13 September 2008

Top 10 Japanese Words that ALTs Use In Casual Conversation (Part 1)

I've heard the Japanese in Vancouver is rather "slangy". The English in Montreal's soaked up Francicisms enough to be considered a distinct dialect, and Acadian French contains such witticisms as "ridez le truck". Minority languages tend to work this way-- slowly creolizing, de-creolizing, and then eventually disappearing.

I used to be one of them Montreal English, and now I'm a foreigner living in Japan. There aren't too many of us, and if there's one thing that unites us, it's how we fracture the Japanese language at the expensive of our own. Here's the first half of my top 10 list:



Haro! [hah-roh]
- interjection

English, sort of. Think of this as English fried and then refried. If you've ever been within 50 metres of a group of 10-year-old Japanese boys, you've heard this. If you've been in Japan long enough, you've probably said it.

Today's kids are getting savvy to the fact that... not every white person is a English speaking American citizen, and they occasionally throw out the buenos días and namashites. One time when I got a "haro!" from somewhere behind me, I threw back a nice, crisp "bonjour!". You know, to internationalize. I assume it's the first time he ever heard this, 'cause I faintly heart a sad and confused "bon... jour?"

[Origin: Japanese school children ハロー!, var. of hello, itself var. of hallo, itself var. of hollo, itself var. of earlier holla]



Genki [gen-kee]
- adjective
Genki isn't in any English dictionaries I know of, but make no mistake: we gaijins have bastardised and Anglicised the sucker until it's Sino-Japanese etymology is just a painful memory. But what does it mean? Genkiness is a mix of exitement, happiness and healthiness, or in other words... "exuberance"?

A quick Google image search yeilds a genki carrot:


Notice the glassy look of excitement on his face and the gung-ho attitute. After spending even days in Japan, everyone's genki or not-genki. There are no other emotions.

[Origin: Japanese 元気]
-Related forms
Genkiness, genkize, genkify, genkerific



Nomihodai [noh-mee-hoh-dahy]
- noun, verb

All you can drink for two hours for about $15-20. Way to give'r to your liver, eh? Sometimes you get free food and it often it involves making an ass of oneself with coworkers singing terrible songs in karaoke.

I did this last night, in fact, and now I'm feeling not-so-genki.


Note: nomihodais may lead to liver failure.

[Origin: Japanese 飲み放題]



Tabehodai
[tah-bey-hoh-dahy]
- noun, verb

All you can eat for about $10. Sometimes it's à la carte, and sometimes buffet. Either way, prepare to eat a lot of meat, fish, squid and pizza or indeterminable quality.


Sometimes, you can get "nomi-tabehodais", which combines the two into a swirling vortex of fatty meat, a cynical single vegetable serving consisting of some raw cabbage and an endless amount of watery booze. Highly recommended.

[Origin: Japanese 飲み放題]

1 comment:

Gorrozolla said...

very amusing Michael, but you realize what will happen now that you have revealed our secret bastardized language.... "They" are not going to sit idly by after this. You know too much!!!