A concerned 63-year-old housewife writes in:

I came across a funny article while browsing through the archives of the Yomiuri Shimbun, one of Japan’s major newspapers. My translation follows after each paragraph of text.

January 16, 2008


Rather than trendy words like KY; how about proper Japanese?

主婦 63歳(大阪府東大阪市)

By a housewife, age 63 (From East Osaka)


Although I’ve been hearing terms like “KY” (kuuki yomenai) on the radio and television more often, I recently discovered some new words made popular by young people from reading this newspaper.


For example when I learned the meaning of “ATM,” which stands for “I’m fed up with my stupid dad,” I was very shocked. I’m deplored at this growing tendency not to honor one’s father! After all, anyone else reading “ATM” would simply think it means “Automated Teller Machine.”


Not to mention other abbreviations that have appeared like “MK5” (I’ve five seconds away from blowing my top), MM (seriously pissed off), etc, which reveal just how little patience today’s youth seems to have. With over 400 abbreviations that use English characters, we now have published mini-dictionary’s like “KY Japanese” that compile these phrases. I hope nothing happens to destroy the Japanese language.


It seems as if proper, well-written Japanese is no longer important in Japan today. Instead of pandering to what the youth are doing, how about adults lead by trying to speak with correct Japanese?

Honestly, reading this kind of article is kind of cute—especially since you’ve got the same kind of old biddies here in America trying to crack down on the decay of the English language too. While I don’t think I’d be too happy to see “lol” and “omg” used in actual essays in English, it seems as if the old fart that wrote the article above is against the use of abbreviations in all forms of communication, with a desire to bring back “correct” (literally: beautiful) Japanese.

Good luck with that.

The only people who use “correct” Japanese anymore are old housewives in Japanese dramas and the entire cast of Winter Sonata (which, not so surprisingly, drew its massive fan base in Japan from women ages 50-70. Go figure). And they sound weird too. Seriously, don’t try to emulate them, unless you’re trying to impress 63 year old women from Osaka. And something tells me that’s the last group on your mind.

The book she mentions in the article “KY Japanese” appears to be this one (KY式日本語―ローマ字略語がなぜ流行るのか 0r “KY Japanese: Why have English Character Abbreviations become popular?). I haven’t read it, but it looks fairly interesting—I may try to pick it up in the future at some point.After all, searching for a good, serious treatment of Japanese abbreviations (especially in English) brought up only this article (Linguistic Innovations and Interactional Features of Casual Online Communication in Japanese), which has a nice, long academic title, but honestly doesn’t dive too deeply into anything one couldn’t gleam from simply reading 2ch for a few minutes. Big deal.

Also, KY Japanese has a funny 1-star review posted for it on Amazon:


This is fine for miscellaneous information. But, if someone who already uses incorrect Japanese reads this, he’s just going to become stupider. If you have the time to read this, try opening up a real dictionary instead.

Gotta love it. Seriously, I can’t be the only one who goes through 1-star reviews of products (often of products I’ve already purchased and enjoyed) just to see what people can come up with to slam it. Must be some kind of sick masochism, perhaps.


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