初めて日本に来た時、あまり日本語が話せなかったけど、なんか [時々] という単語が好きだった。何でかはっきりわからんけど、多分英語の「okey dokey」(オキドキ)（OK) と同じ響きだから好きだったかな。私は大学の先生になってから、学生に「あなたの好きな英単語は何？」と聞いた。学生の答えは、英単語の意味と関係していた。[dream] [peace] [love] [ambitious] （本当にambitiousの意味はわかると？って聞きたかったけど）でも多くの学生は、あまり考えたことがなかったから、適当に答えた。
When I first came to Japan, I loved the word tokidoki (sometimes.) It sounds a lot like the English word "okey dokey" which means "OK." I have always liked words that sound cool like that. When I started working at the university, I decided to ask my students what their favorite English word was. They responded mainly with words that were meaningful to them, words like "dream," "peace," and "love." Strangely enough, they also like "ambitious," although I am not sure they really know what that means. The majority of them, though, had no idea how to respond. I doubt they had ever thought about their favorite English word once in their young lives.
If I had to chose words based on their meanings, I would pick words like ayashii (questionable), tekitou (whatever; randomly) ichiou (for the most part), tonikaku (anyway), kansha (thankful), and kando (moved). Most of them don't really have true English equivalents, so my translations are weak at best. Geez, those translations sound lame. I have three elementary-aged kids, and I teach university students everyday, so I have come to realize that I don't really need a lot of words to have a conversastion with them. If I know mendokusai (pain in the neck), ayashii (suspicious), bimyou (hmm. not sure) yabee (very good or very bad--depending on context) sugee (awesome), iyada (no!) kore (this), are (that over there), sore (that), yatsu (thing) and nanka (Umm.) I am pretty sure I can have a good talk with them. Oh wait. I forgot the most important one. [Imi wakaran shi] and it's relative [imi fumei.] They would be translated in English as "Yeah, whatever" or "I don't get it." Last of all is the mysterious phrase, Ikitakunakunai? Since this word is a grammatical mess, you have no idea if it means you want to go, or you don't want to go. My students tell me that if it is something fun, it means they want to go; if it is something not fun (like class), it means they don't want to go. Umm. I don't get it...All I know is that if I had used that phrase in a Japanese class, I would have failed.
I, however, am more attracted to cool sounding words than the meaning. Sounds kinda shallow when I put it like that. Here I am going to list my ten favorite Japanese words. I bet you just can't wait...
10. Myakuhaku (pulse). Yeah, I know. Why in the heck would I like such a boring medical term so much? Maybe my love of words has messed with my head. There is really no reason in particular I like it so much--I just love the sound of it. It looks really weird to write it in romaji, though...
9. Sokushinbutsu. (Geez, no idea how to translate this...) Ok, so yeah. This one is even weirder than #10. For those English readers who don't know, a sokushinbutsu is a devoted Buddhist monk who decides to meditate until he dies in order to achieve enlightenment. He more or less just dies of thirst or starvation because once he sits down he doesn't move. They are outlawed by the government in modern Japan. Anyway, my bestie recently told me the story of the sokushinbutsu during one of our sleepovers. Recently, I have been acting like a teenager, having pajama parties with my friends. Life is good. Anyway, the story of the sokushinbutsu was quite disturbing, but is no denying the coolness of the word.
８。福袋。英語で福袋は "grab bag"と言います。日本人は英語で "happy bag"と言うと思ってしまうかもしれんけど、残念ながら、それはアンちゃんの大好きな和製英語だ。福袋は最近面白くない。何が入っているかわかるからさ。中身がわからない福袋を買おう！リスクを取ろうよ！兎に角、響きが素敵。
8. Fukubukuro. In English, the fukubukuro is called a "grab bag." I think most Japanese think it is a "happy bag,"since that is what I often see on signs in shopping malls around the New Year. Unfortunately, this is either a direct translation of the Japanese, or a fun Japanese English creation. The fukubukuro these days are no fun at all. The stores pretty much tell you everything that is in the bags, which entirely takes away the mystery. Come on, y'all! Let's take a risk! Don't you have even a little curiosity about what is inside? Anyway, I could say fukubukuro all day long because is is just a cool word.
7. Chimimouryou. (Evil Spirts that live in mountains and rivers). I actually learned this word today from my BFF. No matter how hard I try, I can't really say this word smoothly. I doubt there are many Japanese who can write this kanji, either. Can you? Anyways, let's just use the word obake (ghosts). It is much easier to say, and the kanji is a piece of cake. Nah, I don't think my vocabulary would be nearly as rich without the word chimimouryou. Let's keep it.
6. Kakikyuuka. (Paid summer leave). At my university, we don't get off for the Bon Holidays; instead, we are given six days during the summer months that we can use anytime. I think I like the sound of this word so much that I sometimes take a day off just so I can go to my office and say, "Yes, I would like to take kakikyuuka today." Just saying this word makes me happy. So my advice to you is, when you are feeling down, try saying kakikyuuka 10 times. It is guaranteed to cheer you up.
5. Bibunsekibun (Calculus). I totally stink at math. If I were to divide my intellect and ability between the Humanities and Sciences, I would be 120% Humanities and 0% Science. Oops. That is more than 100%. I told you I am bad at math. When I was in college, I failed a calculus class. Of course, one of the main reasons was that I couldn't grasp the material, but I was also unable to figure out how to use the complicated graphing calculator. Looking back, I realized that the logical thing to do would have been to ask the teacher, but for some reason at that time, that didn't cross my mind. Sometimes I lack common sense, despite my intellect. My husband Riz loves the sound of bibunsekibun so much, that he made it his email address when we were with Softbank. bibunsekibun@softbank. We changed it later. While I also am in love with the sound of bibunsekibun, I love peanut butter more, so my first smartphone address was ilovepeanutbutter. We are both slightly crazy. Alas, we are both with docomo now, so we had to give up these cool addresses.
4. Ikijibiki. (Walking Dictionary) I seriously love the sound of this word. I also love the meaning. My current study goal is to be able to write in Japanese better that Japanese people. And I hope that one day my Japanese vocabulary is so immense that I will be considered a walking dictionary, too.
３。行き当たりばったり。この単語、長い間2位だったけど、最近３位に落ちた。行き当たりばったりの意味も響きも好き。英語でRunning around like a chicken with its head cut offと言います。仕事、研究、ブログをしながら３人の子供のアンちゃんは、この単語と仲がいい。意味は、私の日常生活にぴったりやけど、何よりも響きが好きだ。
3. Ikiataribattari. This word was my number two for a while, but has recently fallen to number three. The sound of this word is so soothing, even though the actual meaning is not. In English, we say, "running around like a chicken with its head cut off." Since I am working full-time, writing this blog, and trying to raise three kids at the same time, I am good friends with this word. While I love the meaning, I gotta say that it is the sound that soothes my heart. I could say it all day long. Maybe I should, as I am running around like a chicken with its head cut off...
2. Chiribamerareru. It means to inlay or mount a gem. This word was number one for maybe ten years, until it was replaced with the current number one. I love the word chiribameru, which you often here at karaoke and on other dramatic occasions. I just gotta say that I am crazy about any verb in the passive form. Although the passive form torments foreigners because it is confusing and hard to learn, the sound is dreamy and dramatic. [I was rained on.] [I was dumped by my boyfriend.] [She cried in front of me.] The sound of the passive tense makes me want to cry because it sounds so beautiful to me. Am I a weirdo or what? These days, many young Japanese think the passive form sounds cool, too--so cool, in fact, that they are misusing it right and left. You may only have a chance to say chiribamerareru once or twice in your life, so if you do, savor it. What a great-sounding word.
1. Oobanburumai. (lavish feast). This word knocked the previous number one, chiribamerareru, off its throne. The meaning is cool in itself, but man, what a super cool sounding word this is! My friends taught me this word a couple of months ago. We were killing time watching our kids at karate practice, and one of the moms said to me, "Annechan, oobanburumai yan." In other words, I spend my money lavishly. That is so not true, but that is beside the point. As soon as I heard this one, I fell in love. How did I live 43 years without knowing this wondrous word? I said it over and over again that day. It sounds a lot like the English word "bumblebee." So my friends and I decided to kill some time at karate by making up a Hakata dialect tongue twister using this cool word. "Bumblebee oobanburumai bai." Looks weird in English, and is absolutely meaningless, but we were rolling around laughing trying to say it nonetheless. We took turns saying it as fast as we could. What goofballs. Ahh, life sure is fun. I mean, you can't be serious all the time, right? I think it is really a privilege to be goofy with your friends. I would die if I were serious all the time. Some of my best memories in life are the stupid moments.
So, there you have it--my favorite ten Japanese words. Lastly, I want to tell you three Japanese words that I can't pronounce to save my life. Ultraman. Portuguese. Baby food. Luckily, none of these words are crucial for my daily life now, but if I ever have to say them, I was stutter all over myself for sure. Without a doubt, baby food is the worst. No matter how smoothly I am talking, I always have to pause and consciously say the word ”baby food.” This is totally off the topic, but when my first kid was born, I worked hard to make healthy, homemade baby food. By the time my third kid made an appearance, I threw whatever we were eating into the blender with rice, and voila! Baby food! I know this story has absolutely nothing to do with this blog, but oh well, I shared it anyway.
Words are so fun. One of my goals in writing so much about words is to help others love words as much as I do. If you can enjoy words and sentences and paragraphs, you will stop seeing language study as work, and start seeing it as play. If my blog helps you to do this, that would make me the happiest blogger in the universe.