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Tweet of the Week #33: Nani the F, and other Japlish Phrases to Unlearn

It’s totally the opposite of Engrish, and we are not ready for it.

By 4 min read

Whether it’s the latest Ghibli movie, the new season of Terrace House or the release of the latest Nintendo console, Japan’s soft power strategy to use culture to shape the country’s image abroad is stronger than ever.

Quietly moving through the corridors of cultural diplomacy like a skilled ninja, the Japanese government placed manga and animation at the center of their policies, consciously aware of the superpowers they hold to make the foreign crowd fall for Japan…

From the culture to the language

This wave that spread the image of Japan as we know it today started in the 70s.

Since then, Japan mania has taken over and with it has come not only a passion for the culture but also for the language. In 2015, the Japan Foundation found there are close to 3.6 million Japanese language learners outside Japan and that number keeps growing. A hell of a record, considering there were only around 170,000 of them in the early 80s. It’s worth adding that these stats only take into account students officially enrolled at one of the 16,000+ teaching institutions worldwide… Japanese words such as karaoke, emoji, karate, and futon even found their way into foreign dictionaries.

But what would the numbers look like if they were to add all the self-taught Japanese language lovers?

*whispers*

Way, way more!

Japlish be like: Oh God, Nande?!

Japan’s animation industry apparently did a hell of a good job to teach the overseas crowd some basic Japanese vocab. Just enough for aspiring otaku, aka a person so obsessed with their hobby that it becomes a major part of their identity, to blend Japanese words with English.

Twitter user @minano_shu stumbled upon what sounds like irritating weeaboos’ “Japlish,” and he couldn’t help but admire these hilarious mash-ups.

がいじんのアニメオタク、「What!?」のノリで「Nani!?」を使つかって「Nani the fuck」とかはじめたうえに「shinidie(にダイ)」とか「yamekudastop(やめくだストップ)」とかほん英語えいご混成こんせいつくりまくってんの面白おもしろすぎるだろ

= “It’s so funny!! On top of using “nani!” as “what”, foreign anime-otaku started creating hybrid words with Japanese, and English such as “nani the fuck”, “shinidie” or “yamekudastop”

We’re still reeling from this discovery, too. Other users quickly jumped on the otaku bandwagon with additional examples that are sure to puzzle linguists who’ll try to figure out what happened five centuries from now.

https://twitter.com/ytplover2/status/1128585695973404672

「ganbarimuch」(頑張がんばりマッチュ)も「arigathanks」(ありがサンクス)も「chotto a minute」(ちょっと・ア・ミンニット)も使います!ほんべんきょうしているアメリカ人なのでこれはすごたのしいとおもいますw

“We also say “ganbarimuch”, “arigathanks”, “chotto a minute”. As an American learning Japanese, it’s really fun! lol” 

(Note that the “w” at the end of the tweet is likely not a typo but is used as a way to indicate laughing or “lol” in text-lingo in Japanese. Though, it usually is three w’s.)

This… This has got to stop!

fat + ふとっている = fatotteiru (ファトッテイル)

error + 間違まちがえる = machigaerror (マチガエラー)

coincidence + 偶然ぐうぜん = guuzencidence (グウゼンサデンス)

rare + めずらしい = mezurareshii (メズレアしい)

take care + をつけてください = ki wo tsuke take care dasai (気をつけテイクケアださい)

Can anime really (like, really?!) help you rock your next JLPT? As a sole language resource, probably not. But it can certainly ignite the spark for you to delve into the wonders of the Japanese language.

Don’t let this linguistic shock prevent you from learning (actual) Japanese

Before you lose yourself — and your soul — reading the long list of made-up Japlish words, let’s quickly review うえに, a JLPT N2 expression you’d better get right.

上に = as well, not only… but also, in addition

Verb (casual form) + 上に

Noun + の上に

い adj + い上に

な adj + な上に

みちまよった上に財布さいふもなくしてしまった。

Not only did I get lost, but I also lost my wallet.

The expression itself doesn’t need much explanation, but be careful not to confuse 上に with 上で which has an entirely different meaning!

上で = after, upon

Verb (past casual form) +上で

Noun +の上で

資料しりょうんだ上でごへんいたします。

I will reply after reading the documents.

Vocabulary Cheat Sheet

Japanese Romaji English
がいじん gaijin foreigner (casual word)
のノリで no nori de slang, “as”
使つか tsukau use
とか toka such as
はじめる iihajimeru start saying
うえ ue ni in addition, on top
ほん nihongo Japanese
えい eigo English
混成語 こんせいご konseigo hybrid word
つく tsukuru create, make
おもしろすぎる omoshirosugiru too funny
べんきょうする benkyou suru study
アメリカじん amerika jin American (person)
すご sugoi great 
 たのしい tanoshii fun
おも omou think
みち michi way, path
まよ mayou lose (one’s way)
財布さいふ saifu wallet
資料しりょう shiryou document
yomu read
んじ henji  reply, answer

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