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Lexical Leavings

by Tom Gally



Kokugo dictionaries note that スキンシップ is Japanese-English; a search at eLibrary gets no hits for "skinship" from English-language newspapers and magazines; and Google results seem to be nearly exclusively for sites from or about Japan. But the January 20 issue of the New Yorker uses the word in a context that does not connect it directly to its likely Japanese source. In a brief review of Cathedrals of the Flesh, a book by Alexia Brue about public baths around the world, the anonymous reviewer writes:
Brue's depiction of herself as a bumbling innocent abroad isn't entirely believable, but her approach to other cultures is refreshingly humble, and her devotion to the pleasures of bathing with strangers makes a seductive case for "skinship," in which, naked together in the same water, "you do away with all the normal social barriers in life."
(January 28, 2003)