I used to teach eight-year-old Japanese kids English. Or at least I attempted to. Most of the time, I was learning something from them instead of vice-versa. They were my little Japanese teachers and I picked up a lot of language skills from them. Although I might sound like an eight-year-old when I speak Japanese, I think they have taught me a lot of useful words. When I first came to Japan, I had no idea what these words meant but hear them so often in my day to day world (in and out of the classroom) that now I finally know what they actually mean. Thanks little ones.

Are!: I hear this one all the time and it’s quite fun to say. It means (in polite terms), what the hell?/ What?/ Oh my God!

Abune: taken from abunai, I hear the teenagers in Osaka say this quite often. It means “that was close.”

Bijin: If you hear this one, consider yourself blessed (or not). It means beautiful woman. And no, the kids didn’t teach me this one.

Chodai: give it to me or do this for me. Not really polite to say if you are an adult but for an eight-year-old, this is acceptable.

Doshita: what happened?/what’s wrong?

Go kurosama deshita: sorry for doing something that inconveniences you. Definitely not a child phrase but hear it often at restaurants.

He?: I always thought this was eh but is actually he which just means what?

Hora!/kora!: Hey! You might here this when a child is being scolded by their parents. If you want to get someone’s attention and yell at them, this is a good way to do it.

II Yo: Yes, of course, no problem, it’s okay, etc.

Iya: it means no way. I hear this often whenever I reach for the flashcards.

Kimochi warui: gross or disgusting!

Kimoi: it makes me feel sick (when looking at something gross or disgusting).

Maa: translates as well….

Maji: are you serious? Comes from majide.

Muzui: short of muzukashi…slang for difficult.

Omoroi: short for omoshiroi, interesting.

Pin pon: ding ding, you’re right! I feel like I’m on a game show when I say this.

Sasuga: you did a good job.

Shoganai yo: it is what it is, it can’t be helped.

Soka: really?/ I see.

Suge: comes from sugoi, meaning great.

Urusai: noisy or shut up!

Yabai: I’m in trouble or I blew it/oh, crap.

 


Comments

11/28/2014 4:14am

If you had Japanese words from eight year old kids, then I will also share what I have learned from 80 year old clients. Uzendayo, kisama, and daikirai are just some of my favorite Japanese words that I would love to say out loud! Swear, those are not swears! (Nandato! Kurikaesanaide kudasai!) But I can perfectly recite a one-liner quote from an unnamed poet, "I no naka no kawazu taikai wo shirazu." This excerpt denotes something like, “People are pleased to belittle things by their own narrow experience, yet certainly not knowing of the wide world outside."

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I had no idea what these words meant but hear them so often in my day to day world in and out of the classroom that now I finally know what they actually mean. Thanks little ones.

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