WIT Life is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations.
I was in Japan on business for most of September, and while there I caught up on dramas, variety shows and news programs. One special feature I saw talked about recent trends in 打ち言葉 (uchi kotoba) or Internet slang that was born from cell phone communication. For example, perhaps the most well known uchi kotoba is あけおめ (ake ome), taking the place of the more formal 明けましておめでとうございます (Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu) or Happy New Year. Such language is said to be 内輪 (uchiwa) or inner circle, and knowing how to use it indicates you are part of a group.
Some new incarnations that I found interesting were よきよき (yoki yoki) for いいよ （ii yo), or “Sure/That’s fine.” It actually reminded me of the Kumamoto-ben よかよか (yoka yoka) with the same meaning, which I would hear often while living there on JET. One abbreviation I liked was り or りょ (rior ryo), both short for 了解 (Ryokai) or “Understood/Gotcha.” Another way of conveying a similar sentiment is おけ (Oke) for “Ok,” though this doesn’t seem to make it easier to write. These uchi kotobaare constantly evolving, and who knows how far they will go…