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Out of the Mouth of Babes

   You won't learn this in your Japanese class, not if you have the kind of stuffy teacher who is mortified by the prospect of her charges speaking improper Japanese like I did. My six months of Japanese lessons never prepared me for the way people actually spoke. I'm not talking about the dialects, the hôgen, about which I sometimes write. No, what I'm getting at is the colloquial Japanese spoken by young Japanese.

   Teaching young women at two different universities, I am exposed to this fairly new kind of speaking on a daily basis. The classes I am in charge of at one university are called "Supisuki" by the students. That real title of the class is "Speaking Skills" (スピーキングスキル → スピスキ). I once taught a Reading Skills class that the kids called "ライスキ" (ライティングスキル → ライスキ).

   It doesn't stop with class names, of course. Nearly everything can be abbreviated--nouns, adjectives, verbs. The above word uzai is a corruption of uzattai, an adjective meaning nitpicky, troublesome, a hassle, persisitent, and confusing.

   More examples:

   Gurotesuku (grotesque) → GURO (グロ!)

   Makudonarudo (McDonalds) → Makku (マック)

   Suma-tofon (Smart Phone) → Sumaho (スマホ)

      ★ Incidentally, I'm trying to get young people to say kashiden (カシ電) as in kashikoi keitai denwa (clever mobile phone). There have been precious few converts.

   Kimochi warui (uncomfortable, disgusting) → kimoi (キモイ)

      ★ The slang form, like guroi, sounds more disgusting than the original.

   Nomi hôdai (all you can drink) → Nomiho (のみほ)

   Tabe hôdai (all you can eat) → Tabeho (たべほ)

   Mabushii (bright, as in blindingly so) → Mabui (まぶい)

   Keitai denwa (mobile phone, cellular phone) → Keitai (携帯)

   Riaru ga jûjitsu shiteiru yosu (The sense that "real life", namely that life when not working or going to school, is fulfilling. Used among otaku and NEETs) → Riajû (リア充)

   Kashisu Orenji (Casis Orange cocktail popular with young women) → Kashiore (カシオレ) 

   Gûguru de kensaku suru (Google something) → Guguru (ググる)

   Kurisuto Kyôgaku (Christianity Studies class) → Kurikyô (クリ教) 

   Chûtohanpa ja nai (Not half arsed = great) → Hanpa janai → Hanpa ne~ → Pane~ (ぱねぇ)

   Muzukashii (difficult, hard) → Muzui (むずい) 

   Mendôkusai (troublesome, meddlesome, a hassle) → Mendoi (めんどい) 

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Reader Comments (2)

I like all the slang. I heard it all the time, stuff like J.K, and many of the things you mention... I didn't use it often though. Yes, GUROI sounds appropriate.

Last year I heard YOTSURU= youtube

also,流行語 is often popular.. thought it was ridiculous that なう was the most 流行っている

November 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkayne

Yeah, "なう" (”nau" from "now"), who started that? Funny how words spread can spread like viruses.

November 8, 2011 | Registered CommenterAonghas Crowe

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