I teach eight-year-old Japanese kids English. Or at least I attempt to. Most of the time, I am learning something from them instead of vice-versa. They are my little Japanese teachers and I’ve picked up a lot of language skills from them. Although I might sound like an eight-year-old when I speak Japanese, I think they have taught me a lot of useful words. When I first came to Japan, I had no idea what these words meant but hear them so often in my day to day world (in and out of the classroom) that now I finally know what they actually mean. Thanks little ones.
Are!: I hear this one all the time and it’s quite fun to say. It means (in polite terms), what the hell?/ What?/ Oh my God!
Abune: taken from abunai, I hear the teenagers in Osaka say this quite often. It means “that was close.”
Bijin: If you hear this one, consider yourself blessed (or not). It means beautiful woman. And no, the kids didn’t teach me this one.
Chodai: give it to me or do this for me. Not really polite to say if you are an adult but for an eight-year-old, this is acceptable.
Doshita: what happened?/what’s wrong?
Go kurosama deshita: sorry for doing something that inconveniences you. Definitely not a child phrase but hear it often at restaurants.
He?: I always thought this was eh but is actually he which just means what?
Hora!/kora!: Hey! You might here this when a child is being scolded by their parents. If you want to get someone’s attention and yell at them, this is a good way to do it.
II Yo: Yes, of course, no problem, it’s okay, etc.
Iya: it means no way. I hear this often whenever I reach for the flashcards.
Kimochi warui: gross or disgusting!
Kimoi: it makes me feel sick (when looking at something gross or disgusting).
Maa: translates as well….
Maji: are you serious? Comes from majide.
Muzui: short of muzukashi…slang for difficult.
Omoroi: short for omoshiroi, interesting.
Pin pon: ding ding, you’re right! I feel like I’m on a game show when I say this.
Sasuga: you did a good job.
Shoganai yo: it is what it is, it can’t be helped.
Soka: really?/ I see.
Suge: comes from sugoi, meaning great.
Urusai: noisy or shut up!
Yabai: I’m in trouble or I blew it/oh, crap.