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Lesson Transcript

Natsuko: こんにちは、Natsukoです。
Peter: Peter here. Japanese culture class, Lesson 60. Can You Be in a Japanese Grand Prix! Natsuko san よろしくお願いします。
Natsuko: こちらこそ、よろしくお願いします。

Lesson focus

Peter: Okay Natsuko san, what are we talking about today?
Natsuko: 2008年の流行語  New word and buzz word of last year.
Peter: Now in Japan, the new word and buzz word of the year Grand Prix is held annually during the first week of December. It awards the words and phrases that best reflect the social condition and have a strong impact on the society that year.
Natsuko: Umm!
Peter: Best reflect the social conditions?
Natsuko: Well that maybe too much but this topic is very popular during December like which word would be selected that we are kind of excited.
Peter: And what is it called again?
Natsuko: 新語流行語大賞
Peter: 新語 new word 流行語 buzz words 大賞 grand prix.
Natsuko: しんごりゅうこうごたいしょう
Peter: New word, buzzword, grand prix. Now the result of this grand prix is reported by major newspapers. So this might be a good topic when you talk to Japanese people.
Natsuko: Yes it might sound very updated. Wow! You know about that.
Peter: Right and especially if your friend has been overseas for quite some years, they may not even know these words.
Natsuko: Right. I heard that Ichiro in major league is checking his friends about the new words so he won’t be behind other players when he goes back to Japan.
Peter: It’s definitely, definitely possible because as you will see the two words that won this year, they actually come from pop culture.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Okay Natsuko san, the 2008 grand prix, new word and buzz word of the year are
Natsuko: グー and アラフォー. We had two grand prix words last year.
Peter: The first word.
Natsuko: グー It’s a punch line created by the Comedian えどはるみ. She prolongs the グー ending words while flashing the thumbs up sign.
Peter: So we kind of take it from the word good right?
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: First syllable of good.
Natsuko: Uhoo but she used it in almost every phrase that ends with グー
Peter: Okay and how to use it?
Natsuko: Here is a sample sentence we found in her blog. 毎日10キロランニングー So that means I run 10 kilometers every day.
Peter: So it’s kind of playing on the last syllable ランニングー but she is extending that while giving a thumbs up and running every day something good.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Very interesting. So I run 10 kilometers every day. Now Natsuko san, jokes and humor in other languages or cultures are sometimes hard to understand.
Natsuko: Right.
Peter: Natsuko san, is she funny?
Natsuko: Personally I don’t know her very well. You know but she is very popular on TV now.
Peter: So Natsuko doesn’t find her funny.
Natsuko: Well, I like her way of saying you know rhythmical talk like kind of bouncy and sounds very positive. So that’s the good part.
Peter: So it’s kind of the enthusiasm and the delivery?
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Okay now what’s the other word that won the Grand Prix?
Natsuko: アラフォー
Natsuko: This is the abbreviation of around 40 which refers to women who are around the age of 40.
Peter: I am laughing because I can’t even imagine this phrase going over well in the west especially the US.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: So I think the age range is around from 35 to 45.
Natsuko: Yes that’s right.
Peter: And what’s so special about women in this group?
Natsuko: They are considered more independent both mentally and economically than women of preceding generation and also, there was a Japanese drama called Around 40 注文の多い女たち and it was a big hit.
Peter: So this word アラフォー became popular, thanks to that TV show?
Natsuko: Yes right.
Peter: And the show was called Around 40, Women Who are Demanding. Now Natsuko san, can we have a sample sentence?
Natsuko: 最近アラフォーをターゲットにした雑誌が多い。
Peter: So recently, there are a lot of magazines that target women who are around 40. Natsuko san, how often do you use this word?
Natsuko: Well, I myself is actually アラフォー. So we kind of joke around among friends like アラフォーだよね、私たち like that but there are also a word called アラサー which means around 30.
Peter: アラサー
Natsuko: アラサー And I think that’s about the age people are starting to spend more for themselves. So it’s kind of like a marketing target.
Peter: Interesting though アラサー what would follow after that is サンlike
Natsuko: サーティ
Peter: Ah got it. So but they are both using the English word.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Okay. ______ (0:05:46) confused about サーティ. はい、わかりました。
Natsuko: じゃ、Peterの今年の流行語ってありますか。 private で。 personal buzz word or phrase of 2008.
Peter: I guess I use one that’s pretty common KY
Natsuko: I see, yes.
Peter: Which is a 空気読めない
Natsuko: Uhoo..
Peter: And it’s a phrase that means someone has no idea what’s going on.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Or they don’t understand what’s really happening inside the conversation or inside a room or kind of the situation.
Natsuko: Yes. So they say something very unrelated or something very awkward for the situation.
Peter: Natsuko san, I have one more that I think if you say to your Japanese friends, I think they may get a kick out of it if they even know it and Natsuko san, are you familiar with the two comedians who do the word Renaissance?
Natsuko: Oh I’ve heard of.
Peter: Okay can you give us the phrase?
Natsuko: ルネッサンス
Peter: And they use it all the time and its two guys dressed in medieval like
Natsuko: Actually not even Renaissance.
Peter: Yeah. Kind of clothing from you know, 1800 old European clothing and they have two glasses and they keep toasting to this expression and they keep saying.
Natsuko: Renaissance! Like that.
Peter: Yes. So I guess if you are out with a friend, if you are out with some friends and you know, you are at Izakaya or you are in a drinking situation and you use this phrase while toasting your glass, I think you are going to definitely get some laughs.
Natsuko: And now on to kanji of the year. We also select kanji of the year which also reflects the social condition.
Peter: And what was the kanji for 2008?
Natsuko: 変
Peter: Strange, weird or change.
Natsuko: Yes. Of course, there were a lot of strange incidents last year and also many changes took place not only in Japan but worldwide.
Peter: Yeah. Now they usually select this kanji based on Japan, but I think in recent years, there is definitely an influence of what’s going on in the outside world.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Now describing a year by using one kanji, hmm it’s kind of interesting.
Natsuko: Yes. It would give a good hint to understand about that kanji.
Peter: Natsuko san, I remember seeing this event on TV. A priest comes out and he writes the kanji on some paper.
Natsuko: Aha so that’s the part of the ceremony announcing the selected kanji.
Peter: And all the TV cameras are there, and then the papers are there.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Very big event. I think this year they got it like I think the kanji is very good description of this year. Some years, I can’t understand it.
Natsuko: Yes right.


Peter: Natsuko san, thank you for joining us today. ありがとうございました。
Natsuko: いえいえ、どういたしまして。こちらこそ、ありがとうございました。それでは、また。