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Until a few months ago, I am absolutely sure in every single train station I had ever been the announcement was something along the lines of "黄色い線の内側でお待ちください".

Then, out of the blue, one day the word 線 became ブロック. If I'm not wrong, I would say that I noticed this mostly at Tokyo Metro stations, while JR seems (thank god) to still be using 線. This is just based on personal experience and I might be wrong.

My question is, why this sudden change? When exactly did it happen? Is there a particular reason why what has always been a "line" needs to become a "block"? More generally, is the choice of a loan word a coincidence? A very wild guess could be that with the approach of Tokyo Olympics loanwords will increase even more and hence that choice.

Anyway, this has been bugging me for a while and I'm just curious to know if there is any specific reason for this change.

PS. My experience so far is only in Tokyo.

  • 1
    確かに最近変わったところがあるみたいですね(ブログ).twitter で検索 すると「黄色い点字ブロック」に変わったという噂も多いようで,もしこちらならより具体的に言い換えたということになるのではと思います – Yosh Jul 27 '18 at 2:25
  • @Yosh どうもありがとう。そうですね。ずっと「線」だったので、何故その変更が必要だったのかが知りたいです。 – Tommy Jul 27 '18 at 3:05
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    If you actively dislike a large portion of the Japanese language, that is your opinion and no one can tell you not to have it, but this isn't the right place to share that opinion. It's going to lead to off-topic, non-constructive arguments. Let's leave that opinion out and keep the question focused on what you actually want to know. The remainder of the discussion has been moved to chat. – snailboat Jul 27 '18 at 7:20
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I doubt it's related to Olympics or internationalization; changing one word to an (English-origin) loanword will not help foreign tourists at all. Some native speakers seem to have noticed the same trend, but I could not find the authoritative reason.

One reason I can think of is that this yellow paving is currently becoming wider to the point where it's hardly called a "line". Until recently, this yellow 点字ブロック was made only of dotted blocks. But a recent government guideline says the dots should be accompanied by "bars" to indicate which side of the paving is safer to visually impaired people.

enter image description here
(image from 京阪電気鉄道's press release)

Now this looks almost like a yellow area rather than a yellow line. These bars are called 点字ブロック内方線, and an increasing number of stations are installing new 内方線. So this may be why they started to call them simply as ブロック instead of 線. (Still, this is my guess.) Tactile paving has been called (点字)ブロック ever since it was introduced, so I don't think it has something to do with "recent overuse of loanwords".

EDIT: This chiebukuro question shows another reason why ブロック is better. 黄色い線 is confusing to visually impaired people because a 線 can possibly refer to something they cannot perceive. By clearly saying 黄色いブロック, they can be sure that it refers to the thing they are absolutely familiar with.

  • 京阪電気って、京阪電車(京阪電鉄)のこと? – Chocolate Jul 27 '18 at 5:36
  • コピペミスです…「京阪電気鉄道」でした – naruto Jul 27 '18 at 5:40
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    Thanks, interesting point especially from the chiebukuro link. I will wait a little just to see if something else comes up, then I think I'll mark this answer as correct. – Tommy Jul 27 '18 at 7:37

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