Every year, the ‘Basic Knowledge of Modern Words Dictionary’ creates a list of fifty new words and phrases that have come into common usage over the past year. These words often reflect social trends, technological advances, and references to popular culture. This year’s list is no exception, with the influence of the London Olympics and political protest having a strong presence among the nominated words.
The article translated below announces the fifty nominated words, and we’ve also translated and explained a selection of those words below the article. If you’re going to Japan anytime soon, you’re bound to hear them. And of course, this is followed by what Japanese netizens think of the words that have been selected to represent how the Japanese language has evolved during 2012.
Announcement of Fifty Nominations for ‘The Grand Prix For New and Trending Words’; Among the Nominations are ‘How Wild Am I?’ and ‘Strongest Girl Primate’
On 8 November, the fifty words nominated for the annual ‘The Basic Knowledge of Modern Words Dictionary 2012 Ucan Grand Prix for New and Trending Words’, that determines the neologisms and fashionable terms that have become talking points over the last year, were announced by the competition office. Among the words selected as nominees for the prize, ‘How wild am I?’ the catchphrase of Sugi-chan, a new comedian who had his big break this year after coming second in last year’s ‘R-1 Grand Prix’, and ‘Strongest Girl Primate’ the name given for the immense achievements of the athlete Yoshida Saori, who achieved her thirteenth successive world championship title at the London Olympics in the 55kg and under women’s wrestling competition, and who received the People’s Honour Award for her success.
Last year’s winner was ‘Nadeshiko Japan,’ the name of the Japanese women’s national soccer team. You can see the list of last year’s top ten here.
From the London Olympics this summer, ‘I won’t let [Kosuke] go home empty handed,’ a comment by Matsuda Takeshi, a member of the 400m swim relay team who secured a silver medal, and middle-weight boxing champion Murata Ryota’s statement, ‘A life that doesn’t miss out on the gold’ have been selected. Words such as ‘Tanita Kitchen’, ‘long breath diets’, ‘core strengthening’ and ‘Shio-kouji’ have also been nominated, reflecting current health trends.
Aside from these, ‘iPS cells’ a term which suddenly spread when Kyoto University Professor Yamanaka Shinya won the Nobel Prize, ‘Nuclear Power Zero’, which has seen widespread use during the Fukushima nuclear incident and subsequent clean-up operations, and ‘Hydrangea Revolution’, a term that indicates the large-scale demonstrations by citizens who opposed the reactivation of Oi nuclear power plant, ‘Kira-kira names’ which refers to children’s names that are eccentric and difficult to read, and ‘Social hunting’ a pun referring to those who those who undertake their job hunts online, have been selected.
The prize committee selects from ‘words’ which wittily express signs of the times, and ‘words’ that have generally been in the eyes, mouths and ears of the general populace. The grand prize and the top ten words will be announced on December 3. A broad selection of the nominated words are explained below.
Nominations for Best New Japanese Word
Osprey; refers to the use of the Osprey military aircraft in Japan.
‘Like’; the Japanese equivalent of a Facebook ‘like’.
Nuclear Zero, protest slogan arising after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Welfare benefit; this is a deliberate mis-reading of the characters 生保[sei ho] which are an abbreviation of 生活保護 [seikatsu hogo], which means ‘state welfare benefits.’ This has been a big issue in Japan over the past year.
Induced pluripotent stem cell.
[motto ii iro no medaru]
‘A nicer coloured medal’; refers to the disappointment felt by Ryousuke Irie after an olympic race, when he implied that the race would not be over until every member of the Japanese team had competed. The journalist he spoke to found this comment particularly touching, and the term spread.
[te bura de kaeraseru wake ni wa ikanai]
‘I won’t let [Kosuke] go home empty handed,’; a comment by Matsuda Takeshi, a member of the 400m swim relay team who secured a silver medal, talking about his team-mate. The phrase is apparently being used in business, with people replacing ‘Kosuke’ with the name of the person they want to help.
Tornado, as experienced in Tsukuba in May 2012.
Netouyo; refers to right-wing netizens.
[go jyuu do arai]
’50℃ wash’ is a new way of washing vegetables at a high temperature to bring them back to freshness, or to elongate their shelf-life. It was discovered by scientist Hirayama Ichimasa.
‘End Activities’; basically refers to the activities one should carry out towards the end of life, such as planning for the future of loved ones, funeral planning, and so on. The term originated in the weekly magazine Asahi Shuukan.
[rongu buresu daietto]
‘Long breath diet’; a diet trend started by the actor Miki Ryousuke.
[eru shi shi]
Life Cycle Cost; the total cost of ownership of an asset over its lifetime.
‘Beautiful Witch’; a term invented by the women’s magazine ‘STORY’ to refer to women over 35 who are still so beautiful it’s as though they must be using magic.
‘Indecisive politics’. The term appeared in newspapers several years ago, but has recently been popularised in a speech by Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko.
‘Torso training’ or ‘core strengthening’; exercises to improve posture and decrease the amount of fat stored around the midriff.
Huge dating events held in particular regions or parts of town, similar to go-kon [Japanese-style group dating] but on a larger scale, with most having around 3,000 participants.
[biggu pafe tabetai]
‘I want to eat a huge parfait’; women’s judo gold medallist Matsumoto Kaori‘s statment to the press when asked what she would like to do when she got back to Japan. She was known for having a bad diet when she was younger.
[kisseki no ippon matsu]
‘The miraculous pine tree’; this refers to the sole pine tree that was left standing following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
[kin medaru ni makenai jinsei]
‘A life that doesn’t miss out on gold’; middle-weight boxing champion Murata Ryouta’s statement to the press when winning the gold medal for middle-weight boxing.
‘Social hunting’; a pun based on 就職活動[shushoku katsudou] or ‘job-hunting’, that describes people who job-hunt using SNS.
‘Sagawa boys’; these are men who are similar to ‘herbivore men’ in the sense that they are not sexually proactive, but they are also masculine and kind, like Korean male idols. The term comes from the title of a best-selling book of photographs, also titled ‘Sagawa Boys’. Sagawa refers to the Sagawa Express Co., a Japanese delivery company whose delivery drivers are thought to epitomise the trend. They are currently very popular with Japanese girls.
‘Hydrangea Revolution’ refers to a civil movement protesting against the use of nuclear power in Japan, following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear incident.
‘Fathering’. The Japanese is a pun on the term 育児[ikuji] which means to bring up a child, and ジイ which means ‘daddy’. It’s part of government campaign to encourage Japanese men to think about their role as father.
‘Udon Prefecture’; part of a tourism campaign for Kagawa Prefecture, starring the actor Kaname Jun. You can see the adverts here
An abbreviation of ステルスマーケティング[suterusu maaketingu] from the English stealth marketing.
[kira kira nehmu]
‘Kira-kira name’ refers to children’s names that are eccentric and difficult to read. [Note: ‘kira-kira’ means to ‘sparkle’].
霊長類最強女子[reichourui saikyou joshi]
‘Strongest Girl Primate’; the name given for the immense achievements of the athlete Yoshida Saori, who achieved her thirteenth successive world championship title at the London Olympics in the under 55kg women’s wrestling, and who received the People’s Honour Award for her success.
‘OK!’ The cute catchphrase of Japanese model Rora.
Comments from Yahoo!News.co.jp
I think ‘wild’ is the one(^-^)v
‘Beautiful witch’ is horrible, both the way it sounds and the meaning.
If they choose properly, then I reckon it’s bound to be Sugi-chan.
Has to be Hara Tatsunori: ‘I didn’t know about the ‘anti-social forces’ [a euphemism for organised crime], but the one billion yen is real.’
Was ‘Strongest Girl Primate’ trending?
Shouldn’t they have had ‘If you don’t want to see don’t look’ nominated in there?
Arm twisting [forcing your opinion on others]
Korean wave arm-twisting doesn’t seem to have been nominated [‘Korean Wave arm-twisting’ refers to recent protests against Fuji TV for being biased towards Korea]
Normally it would be ‘iPS cell’. That’s a freaking global discovery!
Don’t legitimize ‘kira kira names’. It’s going to be a social problem that causes trouble for children because of their parent’s egos!
Even if he gets the prize, I want Sugi-chan to stay around.
Come on, it’s got to be ‘fraudufesto’ [a pun on ‘manifesto’], referring to the lies in the manifesto of the DPJ
‘Strongest Girl Primate’← That’s just sticking words together, not a new word. It’s not popular, and it’s never gonna be.
Netouyo? As late as this?
It’s gotta be Sugi-chan. The others are just blah.
It’s probably been popular since last year, not this year, but ‘stealth marketing’ is well established online.