Yeah, I’m def totes down with that, yo.
Partially because I want to seem like the “Cool Teacher” and also just because I think it’s fun, I often chat-it-up with my students or ask them how to say things. The trouble with this is, teenagers use a lot of slang. A LOT. So when I ask my students, for instance, “How do you say bright” and they answer “まぶっ！” (Mabu! with an extra strong “u!”), it can be difficult to know if they’re telling me the correct, “formal” term, or the slang.
Until I realized something.
Bright: 眩しい、まぶしい、mabushii –> まぶっ mabu!
Serious: まじめ、majime –> まじ maji
Difficult: 難しい、むずかしい、muzukashii –> むずっ muzu!
OMG Japanese slang is just like American slang.
They take long words and make them shorter because they’re lazy. Fabulous –> Fab, Definitely –> Def. (PS: Please, don’t ever say “def totes.” I don’t mind you saying def, nor totes, but “definitely totally” makes NO SENSE. AGH.)
This made me happy on multiple levels.
- I like when age groups/reasons for things are similar across cultures. I think that’s cool. Like the way “mother/mom” sounds similar in so many languages–even a Chinese word for “mom” is “mama”. It says something about our underlying similarities despite cultural or ethnic differences.
- Now I can guess when students are using slang! And also understand them better when they’re speaking to me in Japanese. WIN.
- I used the exact same idea when creating slang for my Singular future earth. I took words that are coming into vogue now and “shortened” them. (Example: super –> supes). I like, A LOT, that this is not only plausible in the US but in other languages because it implies that it would be plausible in my super changed futuristic society.
- Also, now I can make up slang for Japanese words I know, use them in front of my students, and see how funny they think it is. Now I just have to decide what ridiculous adjective to use…
If you’ve studied a foreign language/lived in a foreign country, have you discovered any similarities that you weren’t expecting? (Yes, Sooz, I know that German and English are very similar =P).
How do you think slang is going to evolve over the next decade? I’m guessing there’ll be a lot more internet slang used in everyday conversation. I already say “sad face” when I’m a little disappointed. But I’m not exactly sure what else would translate from written speech to spoken speech. Here’s hoping this doesn’t become a fad: “Yeah, I was so angry. Hash tag throwingcraparound.” 0.0