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Tsunami Question

Linguistic issue: during TV coverage of Japan's earthquake disaster, many native Japanese speakers whose English seems excellent appear to employ the word tsunami without a definite article ("the") in front of it. For instance, they say "Tsunami washed away the house" or "I was on the bridge when tsunami came". Does this indicate something special about the usage of that word? Or is it just a translation slip based on the lack of articles in the Japanese language?

(cf. [1] etc.) - ^z - 2011-03-17