Five words just as hard to figure out as kanji.
The Internet has a language of its own. Words like LOL and WTF are common enough that even our grandparents know them, but others like TL;DR (“too long; didn’t read”) and SMH (“shake my head”) can still mystify people until they look them up in Urban Dictionary.
And the same thing goes for Japanese. The Japanese Internet has developed a bit of a dialect of its own, and even if you can read and write regular Japanese no problem, you’re still bound to run into a few words, phrases, and symbols that leave you feeling stumped.
That’s why today we’re counting down the top five indecipherable Japanese Internet slang words. It’s dangerous to go into the Japanese Internet alone; take this!
So let’s get to it! Starting off with…
Honorable Mention: “www” and ワロタ (“warota”)
Ah yes, the Japanese versions of LOL. How could we not start with these? They’re only an honorable mention because they’re relatively well known across the Internet, but just in case you’ve never seen them before, here’s the breakdown:
The first one, “www,” is any number of w’s after each other. The “w” stands for warau (笑う) meaning “to laugh.”
▼ As you can see in this example tweet,
the number of w’s can vary (translation below).
財布をJRの中置いてきたwwwwwwww 家帰れねぇwwwwwwwwやべぇっwww ふぉぉぉぉ！wwwwwww え、ちょ 、まじか 誰か助けて—
杉浦 りょう (@Supermonster120) April 04, 2017
“I left my wallet at that JR station lollllllll
I can’t go home lollllllll crap lolll
Uh, um, really
Someone help me”
The other one, warota, comes from the same word warau (笑う) to laugh, conjugated into its past-tense form waratta. Waratta gets changed to warata, then warota.
You can also see warosu and warotasu as alternative spellings sometimes, though they all mean roughly the same thing. And since warota and its many alternative forms are a little longer than just “www,” I’d say it’s okay to translate it as ROFL in a lot of circumstances.
▼ Just like in English, warota (here in katakana) likes to team up
with its friend “www” for extra LOL-ing/ROFL-ing.
らら (@rarara_i7) April 04, 2017
The first official item on the list of indecipherable Internet slang words is also one of the strangest: orz. What makes it so odd? Well, it’s the fact that you don’t actually pronounce it at all.
That’s right, you don’t read this one out loud as “oars” or “oh ar zee” or anything like that. Instead “orz” is essentially just ASCII art representing a person bowing down in apology/respect. The “o” is the head, the “r” is the hand on the ground, and the “z” is the bent legs.
▼ Here’s a horribly-drawn picture to help illustrate “orz.”
▼ An example orz apology from Twitter: “Sorry! I was jet-lagged and
couldn’t wake up orz. But it was lucky to see you at the end!”
@KatoraGu ごめん！時差ボケで起きれんかったorz でも最後に会えてらっきー！—
とーるぅ@実質無料！ (@toruoftrickstar) March 25, 2017
Just like most Internet abbreviations, there are alternatives to just the plain “orz” for those who have grown tired of it. Here’s just a small sampling; see if you can visualize them in the letters:
● STO (person bowing to the right)
● OLS (person lying on the ground with hands in air)
● prz (person bowing to the left with a pompadour)
▼ Why you’d need to ever apologize for anything
with hair like that, however, remains a mystery.
天野竜＠H級サイボーグは黒羊の夢を見るか (@R_Amano) March 24, 2017
#4. 鯖 (“saba”)
Unlike the last items on the list, which an outsider would simply have no idea what they mean, this one has a normal meaning all by itself, which could result in some hilarious misunderstandings.
Saba (鯖) is the Japanese word for “mackerel.” At least, that’s what it means at the fish market, but when you see it online, there’s a chance that instead it’s referring to something else: a server, as in, an Internet server.
The reason why is very simple. The Japanese word for “server” is sābā (borrowed from English), and the word for “mackerel” is saba. The two are very similar, and the fish one is two less keyboard-presses to type, so it taking over as an abbreviation was almost inevitable.
This tweet, for example, would be kind of bizarre to an outsider if they thought “servers” were a type of fish.
▼ “I’ve been on and off the hasa and minez servers
since 11:00 and never saw anyone.”
絹島みちる (@rumiaez) April 04, 2017
If there’s one thing Japanese is rich with, it’s ways of calling someone “stupid.” As we’ve seen before in the most offensive swear words and insults, Japanese is an ice cream buffet of distinct flavors of the word “idiot.”
So now let’s add another to the list, an Internet favorite: DQN.
“DQN” isn’t an acronym for anything. Instead it’s an abbreviation of the word dokyun (D = do, Q = kyu, N = n), which means something like “idiot/stupid,” especially if they do something rash or reckless without thinking, such as running red lights while driving, being corrupt in business/government, or engaging in yankii (“hoodlum”) behavior.
The word has its origin in the late nineties/earlier 2000s Japanese TV show Mokugeki! Dokyun! (“Caught on Camera! Idiots!”). It got picked up by the Internet and has never left its grasp ever since, remaining as a refreshing way to call someone an idiot instead of the usual baka.
▼ “When I look at DQN drivers I often see weed-shaped air
fresheners hanging from their rearview mirrors.”
むき＠さげもっこり (@mukai3) March 26, 2017
#2. 草生える (“kusa haeru”)
If using “www” or warota as the Japanese version of LOL is too commonplace for you, then here’s another addition you can make to your linguistic arsenal: kusa haeru.
At first glance the word kusa haeru has a meaning that has nothing to do with laughing. Kusa means grass, and haeru means “to grow/sprout,” so it just means “growing grass.”
The word has its origin from “www,” which if you use a little bit of imagination, looks like blades of grass sprouting out of the ground. This is especially noticeable when watching videos on the Japanese website NicoNico Douga, where viewers’ comments fly across the video.
▼ Just look at all that grass growing on this video screenshot!
shin (@XieNoir) April 05, 2017
And NicoNico Douga is where the phrase kusa haeru got its origin. It’s now used all over the Internet and can sometimes be seen abbreviated just as kusa. Similar to the “server/mackerel” slang, it’s kind of funny to imagine someone reading it who doesn’t know the double meaning.
▼ “Even though the three of us finally got together, we just
watched Hikakin videos on YouTube in silence growing grass.”
ドヤちぃ (@doyachii1217) March 26, 2017
And the #1 most indecipherable Japanese Internet slang word is…
Yup, that’s right. The final item on the list isn’t an abbreviation, heck it’s barely even a word. It’s just a symbol, a triangle: △
The word for “triangle-shape” in Japanese is sankakukei, and again if you use a little imagination, it can progress into a different phrase completely:
1. sankakukei (“triangle-shape”) turns into…
2. san ka kukei which turns into…
3. san ga kakkee (“___-san is cool/handsome”)
San is of course the suffix added to people’s names in Japanese, and kakkee is the masculine/tough way of saying the word kakkoii (“cool/handsome”).
So if you want to say that your favorite anime character (Luffy from One Piece, of course) is cool, there’s no need to spell out the whole phrase, you can just slam a triangle at the end of his name.
▼ Which is exactly what this excited fan did here.
ルフィ (Luffy) + △ = Luffy-san ga kakkee!
やまんちゅ (@yama10073) May 12, 2015
▼ And just in case there was any doubt as to the meaning of
the triangle, this tweet spells it out: “Luffy△ = Luffy-san is cool”
ぽに剣 (@pon1_p0ni) June 17, 2016
So there you have it, the top five indecipherable Japanese Internet slang words. Are there any crazy Internet slang words in your native language? Let us know in the comments and we’ll try to figure them out as we enjoy a nice bowl of the top five Japanese spring foods.