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職業病 (shokugyou byou) literally means “occupational disease”, where 職業 (shokugyou) means “job/occupation” and 病 (byou) means “disease”. However, in a casual context, it also refers to your habits that you cannot resist doing (whether you like it or not) because you do it all the time at work. Similar expressions exist in French (déformation professionnelle) and Spanish (deformación profesional), both of which literally mean “professional deformation”.
Examples of 職業病
If you are a language teacher, for instance, perhaps you often spot some grammatical errors made by your friends in a conversation and feel like correcting them, like “OK, you mean whom, not who“. Similarly, translators may often find themselves assessing the quality of subtitles when watching films. If you work as a waiter, you may feel the urge to stack plates after you finish eating at a restaurant; and if you’re working in a grocery store, you may feel like facing up items on a shelf while going shopping.
(And one of my 職業病 is that I always (unconsciously) pay attention to idiomatic or peculiar Japanese and English expressions that I can write about in this blog when reading/watching something or having a conversation with my friends!)
My friend who is a dentist said that he/she cannot help looking at someone’s teeth when they are talking. This is exactly his/her “occupational disease”.