Haganai And Bokutomo

Here’s some research.

Here’s some more research.

I have done none. Absolutely none. Even before Haganai episode 1 aired I already found out about the light novel author’s “word” on this. So this is really just worthless thoughts I’m throwing into the wind about nothing really interesting. But this is a more cynical take:

Fact remains, when it comes to this uber-geek sort of thing, people abbreviate as a matter of convenience and out of laziness. There may be some other motivations too, but effort- and time-saving are the primary motivations. The second issue of English-speakers trying to compress Japanese romanized text compounds the picture in a way that is probably academically curious but it isn’t so curious that makes me want to think about it besides it exists as a black box of sorts. Thirdly, in Haganai’s case, there’s that wa vs. ha vs. wahahahahaha thing, which makes it the third weirdness to this whole deal. And on a totally unrelated note, when I see “/w͍/” I think of Amisuke’s Horo.

There is what I think yet another, a fourth layer: weeabooism. Bitmap makes the statement that fandom overseas has grown closer to Japanese’s fan scene. This is probably true. The use of these 4-syllable acronyms has increased. This is also particularly troubling because there’s this increase in anime with really long titles, making the typical take-the-first-letter approach unwieldy (nobody is going to remember what OnIgKnKWgN is, if you are one of those weird type that uses lower case lettering to denote particles. We know what OreImo is; it’s good enough to use in trade). I mean personally I despite the whole first-letter thing half the time because that half the time I have no clue what people were referring to without asking someone, and given romanization of Japanese language is not exactly universally uniform it also gives a lot of room for confusion. Sometimes it doesn’t even work (eg., how do you shorten Utawarerumono this way?). I also dislike how this is a very western-fan kind of thing, which seems to be okay as long as nobody draws the line between that and complaining about R1 companies localizing anime into weird or funny titles that has nothing to do with the original, purely for convenience (and marketing) reasons (see: Utawarerumono).

Okay, so now, being all spiffily-closer-to-Japan, we all know why FLCL is called that. Right? At least if we read the links up there. So, Bokutomo? It actually sounds worse than Waganai or Haganai. Or even w͍aganai, at least in my ears. But there’s a rhythm to the reason, and it’s very otaku-sai to follow those kind of rules (well, maybe just a very human/nerd thing) to keep perpetuating these truncated names within a formula. What’s more, the phonic-nature of Japanese lettering makes these sorts of abbreviation way superior than the old way, using letters you can’t pronounce. So I think it is smart to abandon things like “KnK” for “Rakkyo” (my #1 pet peeve), since the latter is pronounceable and extremely distinctive. Or maybe I just remember my words by how to pronounce them? Can’t we just call things like Karekano?

I haven’t even gotten to why I think it’s a weeabooish-thing. Mainly, I think, this is just a case of “let’s follow some rules to make some terms” rather than “this is what Japan’s majority consensus is” in choosing what to call which show by what name. It’s the official abbreviation by the production committee and the products. It’s handed down by the original author. It’s what most Japanese people use. Can we get any more official and consensual than that? So why BokuTomo? Weeabooism.

And specifically I mean by looking at something without understanding, yet trying to do it anyways because it’s “omg so Japanese.” Because all these “Bokutomo” people should just call the show by its abbreviated romanized name, or BwTgS. It’s way shorter than AHMHnNwBwMS!

On second thought, maybe BokuTomo isn’t so bad as a competitive alternative. If English-language anime fandom wants to be retarded and shorten names differently, I would prefer the current state. But what the hell guys, Haganai is even more weeaboo-y! Why don’t you all adopt that?

PS. Yeah, I feel bad.

PPS. Yea this is yet another reason why I don’t like hosting at wordpress.com, because I can’t get the charcter encoding the way I want. Or at least I don’t see an easy way…


23 responses to “Haganai And Bokutomo

  • 21stcenturydigitalboy

    Don’t you mean AHMHnNwB-TwMS?

    Anywho, I hate using Rakkyo because I think it sounds silly, and I still don’t really understand how it derives from Kara no Kyoukai (why start with ra? why the glottal stop?) not to mention KnK is much easier to type which I thought was the point anyway.

  • omo

    Why does it sound silly? More importantly, it’s easier to say than “KnK” or the full name. And “Kay n Kay” sounds way more silly if you ask me. And it is suppose to be silly.

    And you don’t have to understand how it derives from kara no kyoukai. Who cares? It’s the Japanese abbreviation of a Japanese phrase. And if you don’t understand it, you can look it up.

  • omo

    >> Don’t you mean AHMHnNwB-TwMS?

    by the way that is another reason why abbrevating anime titles based on japanese romanization by using the first letter is teh sux.

  • 21stcenturydigitalboy

    >Easier to say

    I will more likely type what I say about this show than speak it more times in my life. And in speech I just call it Kara no Kyoukai anyway. Shit even that isn’t very hard to type.

  • 23423423423423

    …You’re still on about this? I use Haganai, but comparing BokuTomo to first-character acronyms makes no sense at all, linguistically. BokuTomo is actually a lot closer to how the Japanese *usually* contract these titles. Haganai is actually quite unusual.

    I’m not saying to use Bokutomo over Haganai. I don’t and won’t, because Haganai already existed and works just as well (although I dislike romanizing は as ‘ha’ when it’s used as a sentence particle, I can live with it for a contraction). Most contractions require the other person to know what you’re talking about beforehand anyway.

    But it is an incredibly, incredibly bizarre contraction to be the one to spark this kind of rant.

  • omo

    I think your attitude is pretty much my beef regarding the rant in the first place.

  • dm00

    Yes, using “Rakoon” instead of “KnK” is a pet peeve of mine, too.

  • bitmap

    I think both kana-based and initial-based abbreviations are pretty unintuitive in that it’s just innately hard to figure out what the original title is supposed to be unless you’ve already been told what it stands for. It gets passed down from fan to fan, as it were.

    Which I think reflects the reason why abbreviations are used with such frequency. I mean, sure, it starts because it’s convenient and people are lazy, but there’s something to be said about the sense of belonging, the feeling that you’re a part of this in-group, just from using this term that outsiders don’t quite get. Elitist and exclusionary? Probably.

    That being said, though, there’s something inherently uncomfortable to me in seeing very long Japanese titles abbreviated as initials (inconsistencies in romanization/word divisions aside). But that might just be because I don’t encounter a lot of them. The familiar lowercase a’s, i’s, o’s, and t’s are replaced with foreign-looking n’s and g’s, and it just feels wrong.

    And yeah, I compared the usage of “BokuTomo” to regularization, but perhaps it’s more akin to overregularization, where speakers are applying regular rules to irregular cases.

    On a final note, I haven’t taken the time to watch the Kara no Kyokai series, and so had no idea that it was abbreviated as “Rakkyo;” I find it quite charming for several reasons.

    Of particular interest to the amateur linguist in me is the change of the “no” to the sokuon, which goes into the topic of 音便, or “euphonic changes.” It’s something that you encounter a lot in Japanese compound words (juu (ten) and hon (counter word for, say, pencils) making juppon (ten pencils)), but there are also a lot of words that are historically derived from such euphonic changes but are their own distinct words today. Higashi for “east” comes from hi-muka-shi, or “where the sun rises.” You learn something every day!

  • 21stcenturydigitalboy

    More importantly, the abbreviations take up less characters on Twitter.

  • omo

    But nobody uses BwTgS on twitter. Or anywhere really.

    I don’t really think things are any different there. On twitter it is still a matter of rule of popularity due to hash tagging and what not. This is where Japanese script kind of gains a real advantage and maybe people would use it if they could…

    On Rakkyo, it’s more just a matter of nobody uses it so nobody perpetrates the use of it. I mean, somehow I doubt any of you gave it any thought :p

  • dm00

    The whole point is communication. “Nobody uses Rakkyo” so maybe it’s pointless to use it? However, it’s as good a shorthand as any, once it is introduced as shorthand, e.g., “Kara no Kyoukai (Rakkyo)”.

    TWGOK, anyone?

  • omo

    The whole point is actually exactly the opposite: it’s not about communication–if that was the whole point we wouldn’t be using shorthands at all, or we would not be using it as a way to be elitist (ie., the point is to be able to communicate in a way where someone who is not privy to knowing the lingo would not understand).

    Communication is kind of just what you happen to be doing, or the context of this discussion. Which is to say we are assuming everyone gets on the same page to begin with, so why pick A over B?

    Ultimately my rant is about the fact how despite English-language fandom has gotten closer to Japanaese fandom, it still likes to weeaboo-it-up by not getting on the same page as Japan. Like TWGOK. Because those people are, what? Weeaboos? Or they’re just not “close” to Japanese fandom? I can’t think of a better way to say it. It is much easier to forgive (and thus make me feel guilty about making a fuss out of it) because language can be purely transactional. But is it in this case? Given how none of you adopt Rakkyo or I refuse to use KnK, I think we would be fooling ourselves to say that it is purely transactional. Rather, it is something that signify something less rational, and more identity/context driven.

  • dm00

    “It’s not about communication”? Really? (I’m tempted to snark “That explains your writing style”.)

    Well, you’ve certainly failed to communicate. I don’t really know what your examples mean.

    “Like TWGOK.” What about TWGOK?

    What does “weeaboo-it-up by not getting on the same page as Japan” mean? How is “not getting on the same page as Japan” a way to “weaboo-it-up”?

    There’s nothing wrong with using shorthand, as long as its meaning is explained when introduced. When you introduce a term like “Rakkyo”, or even “KnK” to refer to “The Garden of Sinners”, it’s worth explaining. With a recherche term like “rakkyo”, you probably need to explain it every time you introduce it to a conversation (e.g., every blog post that uses it, the first time it’s used in a discussion thread).

    By the way, bitmap, thanks for the explanation — “rakkyo” had always been a completely opaque nonsense word to me (what does Kara no kyoukai have to do with onions?), I hadn’t realized it actually had a relationship to the title “kaRA Know KYOukai”. “KK” coming from a “no -> small-tsu” transformation eluded me, since I look at it romanized instead of in kana.

    By the way, why is FLCL called that?

  • 21stcenturydigitalboy

    omo I was referring to Haganai, in response to the dude above me.

  • omo

    (I’m tempted to snark “That explains your writing style”.)

    This is actually a good point: I don’t intend to “communicate” as a primary purpose of this blog, at least not the way you mean by communicate. Try like, howstuffworks.com if you want that. I am certainly not setting out to explain why Rakkyo is called that, you can pay a visit to Jimmy Wale’s smug mug for more info, and also because I think I already linked to it, etc.

    I know you are capable of discovering information like how the Japanese fans abbreviate certain titles; this is not some serious research. You in a plural sense. I can’t read Japanese and I can find this out. If you can’t be bothered to do so, that’s too bad. (And it may signal some kind of differences between us in terms of social behaviors/circle/sources of info, etc?). The thing being weeaboo-y, as I explained already, is that people are trying to work with Japanese phonics but yet completely ignore what actual Japanese fans are doing to abbreviate the same titles, and in the end coming up with something that only identifies within their own fandom communities. It’s the precise kind of cultural assumption and consumption that somehow doesn’t go all the way, that makes weeaboo a weeaboo. If you want to communicate, for communication’s sake, why don’t you just use the accepted Japanese shorthand and not make up your own? It’s really a form of localization to do anything else. (And there’s nothing wrong with localization per se, but it needs to be recognized.)

    None of this would suggest “[t]he whole point is communication” in my mind. Rather, the inability to let others understand what they are saying becomes some kind of signal of identity! So it’s more like the whole point is selective communication. And not in the way where people understand each other by self-documenting means, or any kind of exposition. I mean, sure, identity is, in this context, really, expression. And expression is communication in a very general sense. But I don’t think that is you (dm) mean that by communication.

    [I think this is also one instances where twitter hashtags can be extremely illuminating.]

    Moving on: I think the comfort of having the knowledge of “why something is called whatever-it-is before you call it that” is something shared by others as well. I don’t really care that much, so I have nothing to go on but to listen to what you are saying (but not listen to what you are saying at the same time!). But as such, nicknames are nicknames, I don’t always seek their linguistic histories before I take them at their face value and begin to use them. Not that there’s anything wrong (none of your values are wrong, none of your terms are wrong, etc) either way, but when I say “TWGOK” instead of “Kaminomi,” what does it say about me? What does it say about you? If I were to, say, google “kaminomi” instead of “TWGOK,” what kind of trasactional differences will I see? Why do people abbreviate TWGOK? Gooks from Taiwan? I don’t know. I mean it’s no longer about communication if we limit our discussion among people who should know what both terms mean, yet prefer the one that is made up by the language-specific community over the “official” Japanese shorthand.

  • dm00

    Oh, “kaminomi” is the slang term for TWGOK. I’d forgotten there was one (though I recognize it now in context). I only mentioned TWGOK because I encountered it the other day where the context was unclear. If the person had used “kaminomi” instead, I doubt I’d have gotten the reference. Though at least googling “kaminomi” (or “TWGOK”) turns up pages about the anime instead of onions.

    I guess that’s really why I wouldn’t use “rakkyo” — I pretty much avoid slang, though I’ll use abbreviations in informal writing where the context has made the meaning clear. As digitalboy says, “Kara no Kyoukai” rolls off the tongue trippingly enough to not require a slang term in speaking, and “KnK” is a reasonable abbreviation when writing.

    And really, your writing is opaque enough as it is, without wrapping it in added layers of obscurity.

  • omo

    As for opaqueness, I know you mean well but that is something you just have to deal with. The layers of obscurity, as far as opaqueness goes, is not even on thick in this case. I think Kobato from Haganai has it right.

    However I find it interesting that you would label some terms as “slangs” and others as abbreviations. In realty aren’t they the same in this context? Is this why your nick is “dm” and not an actual nickname? Are you reflecting your personal preferences as if it is some kind of rational choice?

  • dm00

    No, slang and abbreviations aren’t the same. An abbreviation is something that’s there to save typing, it’s not meant to be a neologism nor even a nickname.

    And, in saying “I pretty much avoid slang”, all I was doing was expressing a preference, not rationalizing one.

  • omo

    I’m not saying slang and abbreviations are the same, I’m saying they’re both abbreviations. Yet somehow one is a slang to you? By calling one slang and the other abbrevation you are rationalizing a preference.

  • moritheil

    So you’re arguing that in effect Western anime otaku, in making up and applying their own rules (and disregarding Japanese conventions), are being Orientalists a la Edward Said?

  • omo

    Hmm not familiar with Edward Said’s Orientalism, so I can’t say for sure about that. At a glance I would say no. But yes, it’s about applying their own rules and disregarding only the Japanese conventions that they’re not aware of or makes no sense to them.

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