Common Japanese Abbreviations – Japanese Vocabulary

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Just like Aussies (Australian people), Japanese Abbreviations are also common including their own names to their friend’s and family names, store names, vocabulary, expressions and a whole bunch more. As a means to create shortcuts and simplify communication, Japanese culture has always been about convenience and from a language standpoint, there is no exception.

The first and probably most important word to remember in Japanese is ‘略語’ (りゃくご or Ryakugo) meaning abbreviation (or acronym) in Japanese. As many words are shortened or abbreviated in normal communication, it is good to at least understand the term.

A simple example of how this works for people’s names can be used for Ken Shimura or Shimura Ken-san, who is a very famous Japanese comedian, is what he would be called in more polite Japanese. When abbreviated the name becomes ‘シムケン or ShimuKen’, which is his family name abbreviated and then connected to his first name to form a single word.

Another example can be similarly applied to companies, and as we know Japan has many global and well-known brand names. If we look at Toshiba, which is a commonly known electronics manufacturer, this name is actually also a contracted title, made up from its original 1939  company name of Tokyo Shibaura Denki, using the ‘To’ from ‘Tokyo’ and ‘Shiba’ from ‘Shibaura’ to form the final name.

Below we have provided a list of commonly used abbreviations and contracted words used in Japanese today:

Places:

  • セブン (Sebun) – セブンイレブン or Sebun Irebun (Seven Eleven)
  • ファミマ (Famima) – ファミリーマート or Famiri Maatoo (Family Mart)
  • スタバ (Sutaba) – スターバックス or Sutaabaakusu (Starbucks)
  • 東大 (Todai) – 東京大学 or Tokyo Daigaku (Tokyo University)
  • コンビニ (Konbini) – コンビニエンスストア (Convenience Store)

Company Names:

  • Toshiba – ‘To’kyo ‘Shiba’ura Denki
  • Nissan – ‘Ni’ppon ‘San’gyo

Phrases:

  • おっす (Oosu) – is a simple informal greeting used similarly to ‘hi’ or ‘hello’
  • あけおめ (Ake Ome) – 明けましたおめでとうございます or Akemashita Omedetou Gozaimasu (Happy New Year)

Loanwords (Romaji):

  • アニメ (Anime) – アニメーション or Animeeshon (Animation)
  • デジカメ (Dejikame) – デジタルカメラ or Dejitaru Kamera (Digital Camera)
  • デパート (Depaato) – デパートメントストア or Depaatomento Sutoa (Department Store)
  • エアコン (Eakon) – エアコンディショナー or Eakondishonaa (Air Conditioner)
  • ヒトカラ (Hitokara) – 一人カラオケ or Hitori Karaoke (Single Person Karaoke)
  • パリピ (Paripi) – パーティー ピープル or Paatii Piipuru (Party People)
  • パソコン (Pasokon) – パーソナルコンピューター or Paasonaru Konpyuutaa (Personal Computer)
  • ラブホ (Rabuho) – ラブホテル or Rabu Hoteru (Love Hotel)
  • リモコン (Rimokon) – リモートコントロール or Rimooto Kontorooru (Remote Control)
  • スマホ (Sumaho) – スマートフォン or Sumaato Fon (Smart Phone)
  • テレビ (Terebi) – テレビジョン or Terebijon (Television or TV)
  • トイレ (Toire) – トイレット or Toireeto

Celebrities Names:

  • ブラピ (Bradpi) – ブラッドピット or Braado Piito (Brad Pitt)
  • ディカプリ (DiKapuri) – レオナルドディカプリオ or Reonarudo DiKapurio (Leonardo DiCaprio)
  • シュワちゃん (Shuwa-chan) – アーノルドシュワルツェネッガー Aanorudo Shuwarutseneegaa (Arnold Schwarzenegger)
  • シムケン (Shimuken) – シムラケン or Shimura Ken (Ken Shimura)

Romaji Abbreviations:

  • CM (シーエム) – Commercial
  • GW – ゴールデンウィーク or Gooruden Uiiku (Golden Week) – usually occurs in the first week of May.
  • JK – 女子高生 (じょしこうせい or Jyoshikousei) – an acronym for Female High School Student
  • NEET – ニート or Niito (aka 引きこもり or Hikikomori) – Refers to someone who has no job, and still lives at home being supported by their parents; also referred to as socially withdrawn.
  • NG – エヌジー or EnuJii (No Good) – the opposite of ‘OK’.
  • OL – オーエル or Ooeru (Office Lady)
  • PV – ピービー or PiiBii (Promotional Video) – usually relates to music videos.

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