Fangirl (or Boy!) Japanese

Written By: Usa-chan
Published: 02/28/2016

Dear Usa-chan, I'm having a serious problem when I read your fanfictions. I keep seeing words I don't know intermixed with regular english and I'm confused. Can you tell me what's going on and why you use them so often? I don't understand what you're trying to say!

Minna! Daijoubu desu ka? Hai! Ganbatte yo!

Yes everybody, I am going to reference one of my biggest sins. I am not proud to admit this, but I abuse fangirl Japanese. Many of my stories have this problem, in fact I would say only a few are exempt. I don’t even use Japanese in the right areas, as if referencing the fact that one character is an American and another Japanese and there’s a reason for a language barrier. No, I just randomly throw in words here and there and didn’t think twice if people could figure things out.

First of all, I’m sorry. To any of my past, or present readers. I plan to strip them out of all of my stories but considering how extensive the damage is, it could take quite awhile. However, I feel it’s important to practice what I preach so over the course of this month my goal is to go through and strip every random fangirl reference away.

Second, with Sailor Moon I feel things are tricky. Where does fangirl Japanese start? Is it the random Japanese words? Is it by using phrases like senshi and Ginzuishou? Maybe referencing the way that different people are addressed when the English equivalent falls flat? It’s a slippery slope and not an easy one. I’m going to give you my take on it, and the take of one of our classic authors who is now a published author will give her take as well, so be sure to pay attention to her.

Usa-chan’s Response: When I go back through my stories I plan to get rid of all the japanese references except for Ginzuishou, since I believe this is more of a title for an object than a random word. I’m even going to take away Senshi because with the revisions of Sailor Moon we’ve been getting they’re now called the pretty guardians instead of soldiers. It’s a small change, but I feel it makes a difference in how the girls should be taken. A guardian is different from a soldier. No more -chan’s or -san’s or -hime’s from me. Why alienate the readers who watch dubs? That’s not to say these same words won’t ever be used; if the story calls for it that’s fine. But it will be in a way that makes sense and is explained so no one ever feels left out or not part of the fanclub.

D-chan’s Response:Using any foreign language, whether in Japanese or otherwise, requires careful thought. You need to appeal to a broad audience, who may not know what words mean what. This might mean stating things you find redundant, but overall it enhances the experience for the reader. Take a look at the following two examples:

1) Usagi gasped. "Minna! I just realized--my Ginzuishou can save us!" She whirled to look her love in the eye, her gaze softening at his unspoken heartbreak. They both knew what this meant. She might die. Usagi touched his jaw with the tips of her fingers. "Ai shituru."

2) Usagi gasped. She touched her broach, feeling the cut and polished stone settled within. "My Ginzuishou--it can save us." She whirled to look her love in the eye, her gaze softening at his unspoken heartbreak. They both knew what this meant. She might die. Usagi touched his jaw with the tips of her fingers. "I love you."

See how much cleaner the second one us? She touches the Ginzuishou--which is in italics to indicate it is a foreign term--and describes it before referencing it by its name, giving the reader context for her words. When she tells her lover she loves him, it's in English, but everyone understands what it means. All readers of Sailor Moon crossovers will be fans of anime, but not all know the "basics" of Japanese language. We cater to them first, because simplicity draws in more readers, and makes those who don't understand more willing to continue reading.

 

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