6. Getting ready to gab
with a geek
Times 2 October 2005 / FRIday section
By Mark Schreiber
word "otaku" can be translated into English in several ways, none of
which is especially flattering: nerd, geek, weenie, fanatic hobbyist,
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
Geeks, as is well known, seem to take
delight in overdosing on "cute".
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.
word is a composite from kigurumi
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?
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).
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
Some of the numerous examples in Japan
Times' Friday's selection included the following:
- no connection with dwarf pines, this means a motorcycle or a car
festooned with accessories or ornamentation.
- 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.
- an abbreviation of denwa
- to attack by telephone. This mean to inundate a company or
organization by telephone with complaints or requests for information.
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!".
- laid-back, secure, happy. Literary means sprawled on one's back with
one's belly-button pointing skyward.
- High-school girls, particularly in northeast Japan, have
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.
- someone who frequently puts posts on "Ni-channel", one of Japan's
most popular blogs.
- 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
otomodachi -on TV shows and at public events, the MC calls
children otomodachi (friends). So adults become ookina (big) otomodachi.
iyahon -white earphones. Used to refer to a person with an
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).
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".
there you have it, says Friday. Memorize them, try them out, and enjoy
a good "terawarosu" on us!