Fangirl Japanese

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Synonyms: fan Japanese, fanbrat Japanese
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A disparaging term used to describe the gratuitous (and often incorrect) use of whatever Japanese words a manga or anime fan has picked up. It usually refers to fanfiction, which explains the gendered term, as fanfic is often assumed to be a primarily female activity. In contexts involving more male fans, the term "fanboy Japanese" is sometimes used instead.

Early Usage

In the early days of the recent boom in Western anime and manga fandoms, this term generally labeled the use of extremely simple and ungrammatical Japanese, for example demo (but) and ano (um/well/excuse me). The words used this way were those that fans completely unfamiliar with Japanese could pick up from context and repetition. Some others in this group are kawaii (cute/adorable) and yatta (yay). The way this Japanese was used often displayed an incomplete understanding of the words, for example using a pronoun such as temee with "a" or "the", as if it were a noun.

Some fandoms where this usage of "fangirl japanese" was deployed: Gundam Wing, Ranma 1/2.

See Miki's essay KOI - Mein Freund, der Karpfen[1] and the linked discussion at the bottom of the page for usuage of fangirl Japanese in German anime and manga fandom.

Diverging Usage

As Western anime and manga fandoms have grown, and many of the fans involved have gained a greater familiarity with Japanese, and more diverse opinions on what kind of Japanese is or is not appropriate in English fic, this term has been used in new ways.

  • Some fans use this label for any use of Japanese at all, feeling that a story written in English should translate everything. The Fullmetal Alchemist fandom contains a significant faction of fans who call any use of Japanese, including titles, fangirl japanese.
  • Some fans refer to any extended use of Japanese, for example a sentence or more, as fangirl japanese, even if it is grammatical and glossed in the story's fore- or after-word.
  • Some fans continue to use the term to refer to simple and inexpert use of Japanese. This may include Japanese that is grammatical but not contextually appropriate (e.g. having a street kid talk like the polite businessman in your introductory Japanese textbook).

Given the pejorative implications of this term, the increasingly varied usage has led to increasingly varied conflicts as fans take exception to the suggestion that the use of Japanese they have chosen is gratuitous or incorrect.

References

  1. Miki. KOI - Mein Freund, der Karpfen, 22 March 2003. (Accessed 03 November 2009)