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Tweet of the Week #58: How To Make Japanese People Mad With One Hiragana

あっ! わあ! うそ! あら! Learn all about Japanese exclamations with this week's viral tweet.

By 3 min read

Did Japanese Buddhist monks bring Zazen meditation to the world? Yes. Is Japan famed for its sleek minimalism and peaceful culture? Yes.

Do Japanese people ever get mad? Hell to the yeah they do!

As you probably know, Japanese culture values harmony and group well-being over individual feelings. So Japanese people grow up probably a *little* more skilled than us at bottling up frustrations and anger in order to keep the superficial peace.

That said, Japanese people are human beings and, like the rest of the world, they have times when they lose their absolute sh*t too. Just take a peek at this TV show panelist (rightfully) losing his temper on live television after witnessing an offensive segment about gender.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeee

This Japanese father and blogger tweeted about his family oogiri (大喜利おおぎり), a game where you have to give the wittiest comeback as fast as possible to a certain question or topic.

The theme was all about who could make the most annoying, rude-sounding exclamations (e.g. “ah”, “wut?” or “wow!) using only one hiragana.

But exclamations are harmless, you say. Yeah, any English teachers out there will understand the pain of asking students a question and being met with a chorus of “えっ” or “あれ” or “マジで!”

Likewise, if you’ve ever had the unfortunate chance to witness a Japanese variety television show, you’ll know that by the fourth Eeeeeeeeeeeeee-reaction from the audience over a zoomed-in bowl of noodles just how annoying exclamations can be.

は?

ひらがな1文字もじ発音はつおんして、相手あいて激怒げきどさせろ選手権せんしゅけん!って大喜利を3人さんにんでやったんだけど。

むすめの「は?」

わたしの「あ?」をおさえて

息子むすこの「で?」がぶっちぎりで優勝ゆうしょうした。

かえすことによって激怒ポイントをめられるところが高評価こうひょうか

= All three of us played an oogiri game, the “Piss off your opponent with one hiragana championship!”

My daughter: “PARDON?” (は)

I kept her in check with “OY!” (あ)

My son broke away and won the championship with “SO WHAT?” (で)

Repeating over and over again will win you top rage points.

If , あ, and can sound extremely annoying to Japanese people’s ears, one sound that REALLY takes the cake is the 舌打したう AKA “tongue clicking” sound.

Considered extremely rude (it’s the equivalent to showing your middle finger in the West), clicking your tongue in Japan expresses utmost irritation, annoyance, and disgust.

Japanese emotional exclamations

On paper exclamations kind of lose their flavor and these translations won’t grasp the full meaning. But think of this list as a useful guideline when you’re watching your favorite series on Netflix Japan. Practice them and you’ll quickly sound more like a native.

  • あっ = Ah!
  • おっ = Oh!
  • えっ = Eh!
  • あれ = Huh?
  • へえ = Really?
  • わあ = Wow!
  • げっ = Yuck!
  • いたっ = Ouch!
  • うそ = No way?!
  • マジ, マジで = Seriously!?
  • すごい = Awesome!
  • おっと = Oopsie
  • あら, あらま = Oh dear
  • くそ = Sh*t!
  • しね = Drop dead!
  • チクショ= Damn it!

Vocabulary

Japanese Romaji English
大喜利おおぎり oogiri improvised answer game
ひらがな hiragana hiragana
文字もじ moji character
発音はつおんする hatsuon suru pronounce
相手あいて aite opponent
激怒げきどする gekido suru be enraged
選手権せんしゅけん senshuken championship
3人さんにん san nin us three, the three of us, three people
やる yaru do
むすめ musume daughter
わたし watashi I, me
おさえる osaeru keep the enemy in check, have under control
息子むすこ musuko son
ぶっちぎりで bucchigiri de overwhelmingly
優勝ゆうしょうする yushyou suru win
かえ kurikaesu repeat, do over again
によって ni yotte by
激怒ポイント gekido pointo “rage point”
める tameru accumulate, save
高評価こうひょうか kouhyouka high rating, top points
舌打したう shitauchi clicking tongue noise

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