Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nerd News and Quirky Asia Files: "To Obama" as New Verb in Japanese

Language is such fun. Here is some news from the Kyoto University campus and other places, where apparently the students have started using "to Obama" as a verb. Via The Atlantic is this story from a Japan blog:
A quick look at the Japanese-language turf on the Internet turns up few examples, but one in particular is meaningful. I found it as an entry dated 22 September in a collection of slang and modern usage put together by the Japanese Teachers’ Network in Kitakyushu. Here’s what they write:

obamu: (v.) To ignore inexpedient and inconvenient facts or realities, think “Yes we can, Yes we can,” and proceed with optimism using those facts as an inspiration (literally, as fuel). It is used to elicit success in a personal endeavor. One explanation holds that it is the opposite of kobamu. (拒む, which means to refuse, reject, or oppose).
Oh, my!

1 comment:

lumpy said...

Hmmm. Last year the Japanese were crazy over Obama. Looking at the blog article, it seems another definition (out of Kyoto) is just to have a positive, 'yes, we can!' attitude, which seems more in line with what I know of Japanese culture.

Of course, I'd be delighted if the Kitakyushu definition you gave is sweeping Japan. That would be deliciously awesome in any number of ways, including an 'Obama as Pollyanna' sort of way.

And in conclusion, we can add the negative, an imperative, and a friendly colloquial modifier to get:

Obamanaide, ne! (Don't pull an Obama!)