How many of these words have you heard before?
As 2016 draws to a close, top 10 lists looking back on the year that was are beginning to surface in Japan. One of those lists is currently drawing attention for its unusual content, after appearing on a television program under the title “High School Girl Buzzword Awards 2016”. According to the presenters of the Mezamashi TV morning news show, these are the top ten buzzwords used by high school girls during the year. Let’s take a look and see if any at all sound familiar to our ears.
10. 〜み (〜mi)
This “buzzword” actually refers to the trend of adding “mi” to the end of words that would usually end with the letter “i”. So words like shindoi (tired) becomes shindomi, ureshii (happy) becomes ureshimi, tsurai (painful) becomes tsurami, yabai (OMG) becomes yabami and kimoi (gross) becomes kimomi. The inflection instantly transforms any word into a cute, soft-sounding one, which makes it popular amongst high school girls.
9. スノる (sunoru)
This word is a noun-verb mashup that combines the word “snow” with the Japanese verb “toru” (to take a picture). This has nothing to do with taking pictures of snow, however, as the word actually refers to a photo app called Snow that’s hugely popular with teenage girls. The app adds decorations to selfies, so next time you want to take a fun photo with a teenager that ends up with you looking like a cute animal, all you have to do is shout “sunoru!”
藤田 ニコル(にこるん) (@0220nicole) November 17, 2016
8. ゲロ〜 (gero〜)
The word gero (spew) is now being added to the beginning of words as an adjective to add emphasis to things that are so amazing or awesome they make you want to throw up. So if something is too cute to handle, you would say, “Gero kawaii!”
▼ #Gerokawaii on Twitter brings up this image:
はい、その風船ガム頂きま〜す😘💕✨ #ゲロ可愛い #そろそろ黙れや #散れや #ごめんなさいw https://t.co/MLiikElcV6—
ぬんぬん☞MAMAな季節ですね♡ (@mipo_3104) November 01, 2016
7. BFF (Best Friends Forever)
This one hardly needs explaining, given its common usage in a number of countries. Kinship between girls is strong in high school, but after graduating, the BFF promise is really put to the test as students go their separate ways to further their education at different universities and campuses throughout the country.
6. マ!? (Ma!?)
Abbreviating words tends to give off a cool, casual vibe, and this one comes from the word “maji?”, which translates to “seriously?” Shortening the word to the one-syllable “ma” adds an even greater sense of surprise to the term of disbelief, which can be given even more emphasis when repeated like: “Mamamamamamama…”
5. はげる (hageru)
Where gero makes you want to throw up in amazement, hageru (to go bald) makes you feel like you’re losing your hair with happiness. If there’s a cool-looking guy in the vicinity, you might hear a high school girl squeal, “Ano hito kakkouyosugite hageru!” or “That guy’s sooooo cool my hair’s gonna fall out!”
4. アモーレ (amore)
This buzzword comes from amore, the Italian word for love. Amongst high school girls, however, it’s used to mean “close friend”, particularly in sentences like “Maji amore“, which translates to “You’re seriously a close friend“.
3. 〜まる (〜maru)
This is another cute inflection tagged onto the end of words. Rather than referencing a word, however, this one refers to the full-stop, or period punctuation mark, popularly referred to as maru (circle), due to the fact that it’s written as a small round circle ” 。 ” in Japanese. High school girls are using the word “maru” in short sentences like “OK maru” (OK.) or “Rabu maru” (Love.) to add softness and cuteness to their words.
2. よき (yoki)
This word can be interchanged with the word “ii“, which means “good“. This trend seems to have sprung from classical Japanese literature classes, where the classical word for good has now gone mainstream thanks to its two-syllable tempo, which sounds cute when repeated in phrases like “maji yoki yoki” (“seriously good“) or regular everyday words like “maji kakkoyoki” (“seriously cool“).
And at the top of the list, winning High School Girl Buzzword of the Year is…
The swastika used in Buddhist art and scripture is known as a manji, which translates to whirlwind in Japanese. It represents Dharma and universal harmony, and now high school girls are using it to mean three more things. It can be used to describe a mischievous person, in a sentence like: “Ano hito manji da yo ne” (“That guy’s a manji“), or used to raise people’s spirits, when shouted out like: “Manji!!!“. Most commonly, it’s used to describe a photographic pose where people position their arms and legs to resemble the manji symbol.
▼ A likely source for the craze is the wild movements of Jabotender aka Giant Cactaur from the Final Fantasy video game series.
So there you have it: the top 10 buzzwords used by Japanese high school girls in 2016. Have you heard any of these words being used by female students in Japan? Personally, we’re waiting to see whether the country’s AI schoolgirl Rinna or the mind-blowingly lifelike CGI student Saya start using these buzzwords now to add to their impressive realism!