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Tweet of the Week

Learn Japanese with what's going viral in the Twitterverse.

By 4 min read

Around the world, text messaging has changed the way we communicate. Today’s youth will take messaging apps over answering a call in most situations—and Japan is no exception. But the thing is, online communication can be super tricky thanks to all the special lingo, emojis and autocorrect making it all too easy to misinterpret the meaning of a message.

Wait…what?

According to the pictures of this pamphlet about using social networking services (SNS), some people seem to really struggle with text speak. As a result, they can end up saying exactly the opposite of what they meant to say.

10:0でまいちゃんがわるい = It’s 100% Mai-chan’s fault

The pamphlet shows an extract of a group conversation on what looks to be LINE, a popular messaging app in Japan:

まい:

今度こんど日曜にちよう映画えいがかない?= Wanna go see a movie next Sunday?

あや:

こうこう!= Let’s go! Let’s go!

カズ:

おれもく!= I’m going too!

まい:

カズはなんでくの = Why are you going?

カズ:

おれっちゃわるいの? = Is it bad if I come?

カズ:

なんだ、誤解ごかいしたよ。ごめん!= Seems like I got confused. Sorry!

まい:

もういいよ カズは友達ともだちじゃない = You’re not my friend

カズ:
………

Wow, those are some pretty harsh sentences from Mai to Kazu. But don’t worry, it’s simply a case of things getting lost in cellular translation. Here’s what Mai actually wanted to say:

カズはなんでくの = Why are you going?

Was meant to be:

カズはなにでくの? = How are you getting there?

And instead of:

もういいよ。カズは友達ともだちじゃない = It’s fine, you’re not my friend

Mai chan wanted to say:

もう誤解ごかいしなくていいよ カズは友達ともだちじゃない?= There’s been a misunderstanding. We’re friends, no?

But can we really blame text messaging in this instance? User @yoniichi421 shared his doubt on Twitter and most people agreed with him. More than a few wondered just how Mai could speak her mother tongue so badly.

SNSトラブルより、まいちゃんの日本語能力にほんごのうりょくひくさのが心配しんぱい。= Rather than worrying about her issues on SNS, I worry about her low level of Japanese.

Mean Mai VS Poor Kazu

You’ve probably noticed that we translated @yoniichi421’s 10:0 with “100%,” but what does it mean exactly?

To understand, you’ll need to know a little bit about what happens after a car accident in Japan. When the police establish the accident report, they will evaluate using a ratio of how much responsibility is shared by each driver. For example, if both drivers share responsibility equally, the report will show 5:5.

Here, @yoniichi421 is saying that Mai bears 100% of the responsibility, while Kazu has done nothing wrong, i.e. “0.”

Making comparisons in Japanese using より

The little word より (yori) is essentially used to compare one characteristic to another. You can translate it in English as “than” with the underlying meaning of “(more) than.”

You’ll place より after the noun, adjective or verb that has “less” of what is being discussed than the other noun, adjective or verb it is being compared to:

AよりB = B (more) than A

おもったより簡単かんたんでした。= It was easier than I thought.

Still より can appear with a different word order so pay attention to constructions such as:

A は B より… = A is more… than B

カズはまいよりやさしい。= Kazu is kinder than Mai.

If you’re into Japanese drama, the title Hana Yori Dango (Boys Over Flowers) will certainly ring a bell:

より男子

The show’s name comes from an old Japanese proverb, はなより団子だんご or “dumplings are better than flowers.” The saying refers to people who choose substance over style or practicality over aesthetic. Note that in the title of the show it’s written 男子, which is usually read as “danshi” — here it’s a play on words.

You can watch the series (with English subs) on YouTube. Check here for more TV shows that will help you learn Japanese, too!

Vocabulary

Japanese Romaji English
10:0 jyu tai zero 10 to 0
わる warui wrong, at fault
今度こんど kondo next, soon
日曜にちよう nichiyou short for “Sunday”
映画えいが eiga movie
iku to go
おれ ore I (for men)
mo too
なんで nande why
もういい
mou ii it’s fine, that’s enough
誤解ごかいする gokai suru to misunderstand
ごめん gomen sorry, I’m sorry
友達ともだち tomodachi friend
わたし watashi I
トラブル toraburu trouble, difficulties
より yori than, more than,
日本語能力にほんごのうりょく nihongonouryoku Japanese language skills
ひく hikusa low
心配しんぱい shinpai worries, to worry
おも omou to think
簡単かんたん kantan easy
やさしい yasashii kind
はなより団子だんご hana yori dango a saying; “dumplings rather than flowers” that means someone who chooses subsance over style

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