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6. Getting ready to gab with a geek

Japan Times 2 October 2005 / FRIday section
By Mark Schreiber

The word "otaku" can be translated into English in several ways, none of which is especially flattering: nerd, geek, weenie, fanatic hobbyist, etc.

Otaku have become plentiful in Japan and it seems they are fast developing a language of their own. To penetrate this linguistic barrier, this article provides readers with a useful lexicon of current otaku jargon.

Geeks, as is well known, seem to take delight in overdosing on "cute".
So, let's say you're walking down Center-gai, the main drag in Tokyo's funky Shibuya district, and you see one, or several, gals prancing down the street in plush pajamas that make them resemble the Pocket Monster Pikachu on steroids. A normal person might say, "That's weird." But you, as a bona fide otaku, immediately recognize this charming young person as being a kigurumin.
The word is a composite from kigurumi pajama, sleeping wear resembling a stuffed toy or cartoon character. By adding an "n"  at the end, it becomes "min" -a suffix found in kokumin (citizen). So that gives you kigurumin -the tribe of people who wear cutesie pajamas on the street. Isn't this fun?

Another new term is terawarosu meaning belly laugh. In proper Japanese; to laugh is warau. But when a Japanese in a blog or a chatroom wants to show he finds something hilarious, he types warosu, the Net equivalent of "LOL" (laughing out loud).

"Tera" is from terabyte (one trillion bytes), the next step up in data volume after "giga" (1 billion bytes). So, terawarosu -and it's a real mouthful- would be like the English "ROTFL" (rolling on the floor laughing).

Some of the numerous examples in Japan Times' Friday's selection included the following:
Bonsai - no connection with dwarf pines, this means a motorcycle or a car festooned with accessories or ornamentation.
Cinsodan - an alternative word for bosozoku (hot rod gangs. Literary means "weird running group" and serves as a putdown, since many young people regard the term bosozoku ("violent running tribe") in a positive light.
Dentotsu - an abbreviation of denwa totsugeki shuzai - to attack by telephone. This mean to inundate a company or organization by telephone with complaints or requests for information.
A DQN - pronounced "do-kyun". It's an abbreviation of mokugeki dokyun. Used when a bad guy makes the scene as in "Uh-oh, here comes trouble!".
Hesoten - laid-back, secure, happy. Literary means sprawled on one's back with one's belly-button pointing skyward.
Haniwa rukku - High-school girls, particularly in northeast Japan, have taken to wearing sweat pants under their short uniform skirts to discourage the ubiquitous camera peepers. By doing so they resemble the garments on haniwa, the clay figures placed around prehistoric grave mounds.
Nichannera - someone who frequently puts posts on "Ni-channel", one of Japan's most popular blogs.
Nonai kanojo - literally "brain-inside girlfriend". It means the girl of one's fantasies -a virtual partner who does not actually exist. The opposite would be riaru (real) kanojo.
Ookina otomodachi -on TV shows and at public events, the MC calls children otomodachi (friends). So adults become ookina (big) otomodachi.
Shiroi iyahon -white earphones. Used to refer to a person with an iPod.

These terms, Friday notes, were sourced by researchers at Jiyu Kokumin-sha, publisher of the annually updated "Gendai Yogo no Kiso Chisiki" (Encyclopedia of Contemporary Words).
"Each year, we sponsor a Grand Prix for the top buzzword" says editor-in-chief Ryuji Nagaoki. "Among the candidates last year were 'Akiba-kei' (a term applied to geeks who hang out in Tokyo's Akihabara district) and 'Densha Otoko' (Train Man). This year we recognize the very real possibility that these terms are headed toward general usage, so we've included them in the current edition".

So there you have it, says Friday. Memorize them, try them out, and enjoy a good "terawarosu" on us!
  

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