Abbreviations in Japanese

As you finish N4 and enter N3, you tend to notice some words which are loaned from different languages, usually written in katana, there are also shortened versions of the same loaned words which you might have to remember. I’ll introduce these sometimes easy to identify, but many times not, words used generally and specifically used in social networking.

Japanese has a ton of loan words borrowed from English and many are not because they do not have words for the objects in Japanese, but because, well, Japanese is a “flexible language” that like to incorporate anything and everything that comes. It makes learning difficult when you have to memorize these loan words together with the native words because they come up in conversations and everyday life. Now let us say you did memorize both forms of the words with its varying katakana pronunciations, like a saiyan evolves, there comes a third form – Abbreviations to the same words to the native and loan word alike. These abbreviations, unlike English where the first letters of each word is capitalized, are usually abbreviated into 3-4 syllables from a longer word. Some words are used in everyday life, some are used specifically for social media and some become part of the dictionary itself. The fun part about this is trying to understand where these abbreviations come from.

I would like to start off with something everyone can understand.

The most popular word could something everyone is very aware of, "ANIME" short for animation. If you notice there are many anime titles that are 4 syllable words. This shows that turning long words into short abbreviations is very common in the language.



Looking at the above example, you can see why some abbreviations are required and how they are very creatively made, rather than the first syllables of every word or just the first four syllables.

WORDS USED IN SOCIAL MEDIA MESSAGING: If you have some Japanese friends and see some random English alphabets that might pop up in the chat, well, some weird abbreviations here:

Considering Social media words and vocabulary keeps changing every day, it’s better to directly ask the person themself.

Next time, you come across words that seem a little off or you feel you have heard it somewhere, do try to look at where it originates from, if it is abbreviated and if it is just some weirdness.