In Japan, you don’t “like” something on Facebook, you “ii ne” it. But what about the five other “reactions” that Facebook has just added?
When you’re trying to learn a new language, people often tell you to immerse yourself as much as possible. “Set your phone to Japanese;” people told me when I asked for tips on how to improve my own Nihongo, “do as much of your everyday life in Japanese and you’ll pick it up faster.”
There’s definitely a lot of truth to that. Although I wouldn’t recommend that you set your mobile phone to Japanese unless you’ve reached—at the very least—a lower-intermediate level in your studies (all of those unfamiliar kanji characters can be a nightmare to navigate), setting your life to Japanese mode, as it were, helps a lot.
And of course, “everyday life” now includes social media for a great many of us. Japan was, as it was with adopting smartphones and letting go of the fax machine and MiniDiscs, a little bit late to Zuckerberg’s party (even today Japan prefers Twitter to Facebook), but millions of Japanese now have Facebook accounts, and terms like “ii ne suru“, or “liking” things online are common parlance.
Upon switching my Facebook account language to Japanese in the name of immersion, I found it quite charming the way that the site automatically adds the honorific suffix “san” to friends’ names. But the localisers’ decision to use “ii ne” (literally “good, isn’t it?”) instead of just “suki” (“like”) was especially striking, and I became quite fond of it.
I’ve since switched back to English (because I’m lazy and, like most Englishmen abroad, prefer to speak in my own language only slightly louder), but when Facebook bestowed a whole new set of “reactions” upon us earlier this week, it got me thinking about those “ii ne”s again, so I hopped back into my account’s language settings to see what Japan was getting in place of the new Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry reactions.
▼ Or, as I prefer to think of them:
Just for fun, and since we’re heading into the weekend wherein there will undoubtedly be plenty of social networking going on, here’s a quick look at what Japanese Facebook users are calling the new reactions. The symbols are, of course, exactly the same as those given to English-language Facebook users, but you might want to remember these for next time you’re discussing ii ne-ing—or perhaps something stronger—with a Japanese friend or coworker.
- Like: Ii ne!
The classic, “this is good; I like this” response.
- Love: Chou ii ne!
Chou can be thought of as “very” or “extremely”. Despite it being used by high school girls in virtually every excitable utterance, it is very much a real term, and can even be found in words like 超特急 choutokkyuu (super-express [train]).
- Haha: Ukeru ne
Ukeru literally means “to receive”, but used in this context and in everyday situations it’s closer to “that’s hilarious”, or at least so pleasing that anyone would agree. Ukeru neee.
- Wow: Sugoi ne
Anyone who has watched even half an hour of anime or a single Japanese movie will have come across sugoi—which means anything from “amazing” to “frightful”—at some point.
- Sad: Kanashii ne
The least slangy of the bunch is kanashii ne, meaning “[that’s] sad, isn’t it…”.
- Angry: Hidoi ne
Last but not least, it’s that slightly confusing one (are we supposed to use this to express our anger at the thing being shared, Facebook, or the person sharing it?). Hidoi ne is actually closer to “that’s awful” than the English “I’m angry”—which makes sense, because sunburnt scalps are awful.
Have a happy, social weekend, folks. Try not to “angry” too many of the things you see online…