100 Japanese Things

In Which 100 Japanese Things Shall Be Revealed, So That You May Learn Much Japanese From Them

Thing #9: Shortened Words and Short Skirts: What is Aichira? April 8, 2008

Filed under: advanced,beginner,intermediate — eatabug @ 2:05 am
Tags: , , , , ,

This method of Japanese language learning may be odd to some, but I couldn’t resist at least introducing this blog which rather tastefully documents pop singers whose underwear has accidentally appeared in event photos over the 80’s and 90’s.

I’m not sure of the practicality of this site, but as a pop-culture maniac, I find this insight into the pop-world intriguing.

Fascinating tidbit #1 is the writer’s formality. He uses 「です」and「ます」forms opposed to a more casual style, giving the blog a frank and polite feel. It documents pop idol mishaps with gentleness and sincerity. The writer is respectful and devoted to his readers and has constructed a bulletin board for readers to post pictures of idols for him to showcase on the blog.

Why he started the blog is not clear, but it appears the guy simply digs pictures of idols whose underwear shows. It doesn’t seem perverted or anything, he just digs it.

So what can one learn from this blog?

For one, the writer uses a lot of shortened words. The title of the blog is「愛チラ大百科」(あいちら だいひゃっか), which I translate to “The Encyclopedia of Idol Panty Shots”.

But if you look at the word for “idol”, which in Japanese is「アイドル」、it is nowhere to be found in the title. That’s becuase it has been shortened to simply “アイ”. And for “Panty Shots”, the Japanese would is 「パンチラ」, 「パン」being the shortened form of「 パンツ」meaning “pants” as in “underpants”, and 「チラ」meaning to flash. The writer has changed the 「アイ」part of 「アイドル」into the kanji,「愛」which means “love”. This play on words with the same phoenetics gives it a double meaning.

The first meaning is, “idol”, as in “pop-idol”. By using the kanji for love, it gives a second meaning in which the writer can imply his feelings of fondness for these idol panty shots. I think it can also mean “lovely” in describing the idols. By simply changing the charcter to 「愛」the writer is able to explain what he is blogging and his feelings towards it in one word.

The author also shortened a sentence about a singing duo who dresses in maid outfits in which I found interesting:

「ワシントンDCで行われたアニメイベントに、アニメソングを歌うために渡米。」

This translates to:

“They flew to Washington DC where an anime event was being held to sing an anime song.”

It is in reference to a cosplay group called Funny Stones who was invited to perform in DC. He recaps and and shortenes with:

「アメアニソンイベントとかにも出てるんだ〜」

Which breakdowns like this「アメ」=America, 「アニ」=Anime, 「ソン」=Song, 「イベント」=Event. The sentence means, “Wow, they’re also doing American Anime Song Events”, with the writer expressing slight amazement.

In the shortened version, specifics on Washington DC is lost, but the basic meaning is still there in only 10 katakana characters.

The word “cosplay” itself, has become a part of the English language among Japan/Anime knowing peeps is the combined shortened form of the phrase “costume play”.

Shortened words is not only limited to katakana vocabulary. For example, a college student attending Waseda University in Tokyo is often referred to as 「早大生」(そうだいせい). If you were to write this out in a more complete form, it would be 「早稲田大学の学生」. By plucking one kanji from each group of words, you can shorten a long sentence into something short and succinct. The way these kanji are picked are related to ease of pronuciation.

If you look at 「早大生」you can see they took the 「早」in
「早稲田」, 「大」of 「大学」, but when it came to 「学生」they did not use 「学」but the「生」part instead. As reader Jen points out, this is to differentiate between Waseda as a University, and a student of Waseda.

Besides the language points you can learn form this site, there is also a lot of information about pop-idols–something that may be useful when loading up on karaoke songs for your next enkai.

 

2 Responses to “Thing #9: Shortened Words and Short Skirts: What is Aichira?”

  1. Jen Says:

    I don’t think that the things which make up 早大生 were picked for ease of pronunciation as such, most universities in japan get shortened to their first character and then the 大 from 大学。 I studied at 中央大学 for a year and that was almost always referred to as 中大. Surely the 生 isn’t for ease of pronunciation, but to show that they are referring to a student at the university, whereas 早大学 would just mean, waseda university. Nothing at all to do with ease of pronunciation, all to do with what the kanji actually mean, and convention.
    My home university シェフィールド大学 often gets abbreviated to シェフィ大 by my Japanese friends.

  2. eatabug Says:

    Jen,

    Yes, you are correct in saying it is to show they are referring to a student instead of the university–I had been meaning to change that. Thank you for pointing it out.

    I have heard however that the pronunciation which combined kanji words receive, does sometimes have to do with ease of pronunciation and how easily it rolls off of the tongue.


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