Thursday, December 9, 2010


waifu, wife.

This year again, two Japanese scientist received the Nobel Prize. TV news reports them from various angles. The family life naturally became a popular topic, and interestingly enough, both of them refer to their wives as ワイフ in Japanese. Particularly because the way of their speaking are extremely gentle and polite, their manners made this choice of word stands out.

When I started to learn Japanese, I was told by my teacher that the correct way to refer to one's wife was 家内(かない). Later, I realized that some one tend to use 妻(つま) in order to avoid the traditional color from such a word. A few years ago, I was surprised to hear my colleague with a high education referred his wife in 奥さん. Now, there is a new variation jointed to this list.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


nau, "now".

Each year on this day, Dec. 1st, the announcement of "new words of the year" becomes a major news from Japan, a wonderful way to reflect the changing of the language in this rapid moving time, and to see in how little we know of the current trends in Japan. This year, among the Top Ten, more than half of them never became my knowledge, and なう。 stands out. The official site states that this became popular due to the use of Twitter, and the reason that people like it seems to be that it is written in hiragana, not in katakana as for normal foreign words.

In the Japanese class, I still have to explain to students the difference between ね, よ, な. Then, here is なう, in a total different context. To my mind, the charming point for the use of なう is because that it is placed at the end of a sentence. It is such "not" Japanese, and in a certain degree, it destroying the order of the language.