25 useful Japanese words for everyday conversation

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/01/15/25-useful-japanese-words-for-e.html

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I’ve tried and failed to start learning Japanese so many times but this guy makes it seem like I should definitely try again.

Snipped some to highlight the words above because using those slangy forms of the words can make a non native adult speaker end up sounding like a kid.The words are worth noting as turn of the decade slang but like all slang they can and will change over time and maybe in a year they’ll sound incredibly dated,

Note that the exception of the highlighted words is uso (literally “lie”) which can be common enough among adults who know each other fairly well (or are speaking as if they do) but using it as the “no way!” exclamation might sound off.

Note also that chichai sounds a bit feminine form speech. Its a common enough word with adults but mostly said by adult women. EDIT: always safe to just use chisai which is the regular word for small.

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Maybe my sarcasm-dar is broken, but I thought this was strange:

I thought I would know them all, but there were quite a few that were new to me:

and then the words listed are incredibly common…?

Not necessarily, “uso!” is absolutely used as a “no way!” exclamation, along with a bunch of others. It’s really more about knowing what to use and how and in what situation. As with any language, if your Japanese is not good but you insist on using slang/very colloquial words and phrases, you’ll inevitably come across as sounding “off”. Kind of like when an ESL person mixes up proverbs or idioms (ahem), or someone who doesn’t know French well uses “tu” to address someone that should be addressed with “vous”…

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On second thought I’ll go so far as to say one should not use *uso!" in that slangy say until one is reasonably well conversationally proficient in Japanese because like the others above it can end up sounding more adolescent/young adult than just awkward.

Even with my Japanese friends who I’ve known for many years, personally I don’t use uso in that way, I just use the safer “eeeehhhhh”.

“Tu” vs “vous” maps well enough to Japanese in terms of word choices and honorifics when dealing with others since Japanese has multiple levels of honorific speech far beyond just whether to say name-san or name-sama. Doing those levels properly actually requires study for many Japanese people. After a while in the Japanese workplace you start to notice when people are using honorific forms incorrectly :slight_smile:

One of the better YouTube channels out there. Love it.


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