Japan’s “Words of the Year” are out for 2021, featuring riaru nitÅryÅ« and ShÅ taimu take the highest honors. The sentences both describe baseball phenomenon Ohtani ShÅhei, who “wielded two swords for real”, both on the mound and in the batter’s surface, as he hugged fans with his “ShÅ Time” performance. “.
Ohtani terms at the top of the list
Los Angeles Angels star Ohtani ShÅhei has cleaned up Major League Baseball this season, winning the American League MVP award, the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter award and many other accolades. A slugger in the race for the circuit crown, finishing with 46 home runs, he was also a threat on the mound, where he averaged 3.18 earned runs over 23 starts.
This rare combination of talent on the pitcher’s mound and on the plate has propelled him to the top of this year’s Words of the Year ranking, chosen each year by a selection committee organized by JiyÅ« Kokumin Sha, publisher of Gendai yÅgo no kiso chishiki (Basic Knowledge of Contemporary Terminology), an annual guide to the latest terms in use in the Japanese language. We covered the full list of 30 nominees last month. Today the committee announced its shortlist of 10 finalists and the two winning terms, both referencing Ohtani, deemed to have become a vital part of the Japanese language this year.
Given the high profile of terms related to COVID-19 in last year’s rankings, it was somewhat surprising to see only a pair of entries associated with the pandemic in the 2021 finalistsâmokushoku, or âsilent dinnerâ aimed at preventing viral transmission, and jinryÅ«, the “flows of people” followed by researchers in the hope of locating the routes of infection. The postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics proved to be more productive, with three finalists coming from comments from sports announcers, the name of a para-athletics competitor and criticism from the International Olympic Committee for putting profit over health. public.
As some members of the selection committee noted, their task has been made difficult this year by the big stories in Japan – the summer games and the pandemic – drawing people’s attention and language in different directions. Poet Tawara Machi said, âThe news we followed was an uneven patchwork, with stories about the Olympics interspersed with stories about COVID-19. . . . We would see a phrase like “the most ever number” and we have to keep reading to find out if that refers to Japan’s medal count or new infections. In the midst of it all, she noted, Ohtani’s performance clearly stood out.
University of Tokyo Emeritus Professor Kang Sang-jung also commented that âjust like the year before, 2021 has been a year in which we have never been able to free ourselves from the shadow of the coronavirus. . But people seemed to be looking for something brighter in the words that came to their lips, leaving the impression that dawn was finally beginning to break. . . Hope to see some really fresh and exciting new phrases popping up next year.
Actress and writer Muroi Shigeru, meanwhile, noted that while the Olympics and Paralympics provided their share of new terms, they seemed likely to fade quickly with the fleeting excitement of the games themselves. âI was rather struck by the words that are likely to be with us longer – the UN SDGs, gender equality and Gen Z, for example. She also expressed her hope that 2022 will bring different new words to a world that regains its vitality, “the kind of words that make you smile when you say them out loud.”
The winning words of 2021
?? – Riaru nitÅryÅ«. âWielding two swords,â or contributing to his team as both a pitcher and an offensive threat, also placed baseball phenomenon Ohtani ShÅhei on the 2013 Word Nominee List. This year, his description was upgraded to become a “real double sword handler” as he made a serious bid for the Major League home run crown while winning nine games for the Los Angeles Angels. Another popular phrase in 2021 was ãª ã ã¨ (nao-e, meaning roughly “meanwhile, the Aâ”), in reference to the comments sports commentators often had to add to stories about her incredible one-on-one performances, telling viewers that “meanwhile the angels” still had lost.
?? – ShÅ taimu. âShÅ time! Was a phrase often repeated by announcers at Angels Stadium in Los Angeles and in Japan as fans backed Ohtani ShÅhei in his attempt to equal Babe Ruth’s century-old record of double-digit wins and home runs. Ohtani fell just below the mark, ending the season with 9 wins and 46 home runs.
?? – UsseÄ wa. The high school singer Ado expressed her anger towards society through a song called “Shut Up!” Originally released in October 2020, it took off in 2021.
?? – Oyagacha. The original gacha Capsule toy vending machines got their name from the noise they made when distributing random items, and the term was further applied to low-cost random items awarded as prizes in mobile games. The term “parents gachaPopular among young people in 2021 refers to the idea that children can be lucky or unlucky to which parents they were born, without having a choice.
?? – Gon-zeme; bitta bita. Professional skateboarder Sejiri RyÅ guided Olympic spectators through the new sport of skateboarding with a lot of specialized vocabulary. These included gon-zeme, an attitude of “fearless attack” which can play on the gongon the rattling noise of skateboard wheels on a ramp, and bitta bita, to stick a landing “just right”, possibly a variation on pittari (exactly).
?? – JendÄ byÅdÅ. The pandemic has highlighted the challenges Japan and other countries face in advancing âgender equality,â one of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Women have borne the brunt of job losses as COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the economy, and recent Diet elections have seen the already dismal percentage of female legislators in Japan decline even further. However, the bright spots include Yoshino Tomoko’s appointment in October as the first female president of the Confederation of Japanese Trade Unions, Japan’s largest labor group.
?? – JinryÅ«. “People flows” were a key factor that the Japanese government sought to monitor closely via cellphones and other data in areas like Tokyo, where it had declared a state of emergency amid a crisis. increase in COVID-19 cases.
?? – Sugimu-raijingu. A coat rack of “Sugimura” and “rising”, the term was coined to describe a special throw from boccia player Sugimura Hidetaka. In the BC2 individual boccia class at the 2020 Paralympic Games, Sugimura outscored the competition with precisely targeted throws, including his hallmark of ‘rising shot’, en route to winning Japan’s first gold medal in this race. test.
Z ä¸ä»£ – Z sedai. Gen Z, a demographic born in the mid to late 1990s through early 2000s, are increasingly gaining attention for their openness to different opinions and values ââas well as their ability to use new technologies.
?? – Bottakuri danshaku. A translation of “Baron Von Ripper-off”, the name given to President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach by Sally Jenkins in her May 5 Washington post column calling on Japan to cancel the summer games in Tokyo. The name was picked up by domestic protesters opposed to what they saw as the IOC’s harsh demands on the Japanese side during an ongoing pandemic.
?? – Mokushoku. A newly coined word for “silent dinner” mokushoku was joined by terms like ã ã¹ ã¯ ä¼ é£ (masuku kaishoku), “the masked meal,” as restaurants urged diners to eat without the conversation seen as a means of viral transmission and to put on their masks whenever they did not use their mouths to eat and drink.
(Originally written in English. Banner photo: Ohtani ShÅhei in action on the mound [Â© Reuters] and on the plate [Â© Jiji].)