Welcome to Japanese 101. English is well known for its ability to cannibalize other laguages, including Japanese, to create new words. Take ‘tycoon’ for example. In English it means a maverick entreprenuer – a person who has taken risks in business and made a fortune, quickly. It comes from the Japanese ‘taikun’ – meaning a general in the military.

Well, this brings us to today’s post, which is brought to you by the letter ‘W’.

It seems everywhere you go in Japan recently you see posters, advertisements and other things with the letter ‘W’ prominently displayed. It Japlish, it means ‘double’ – often with the katakana ダブルユー (pron. daburuyuu) or ダブル (pron. daburu) included somewhere in the text. I’ve seen it used to mean ‘double chance’ (Wチャンス), for example.

I believe the first instance of this use of language was with the Hello Project group of this very name . Of course, science has shown us that if you want to change any culture quickly, all you have to do is make something popular to teenage girls. The same is true of language. These girls are (apparently) very popular with young girls (and men who can’t get dates, but we won’t go into that right now) so their songs, styles and use of language have often quickly moved into the mainstream. This group appeared about half-way through last year (at least in my observations of Japanese TV) so it hasn’t taken long for this use of ‘W’ to pop up in many places. I’ve included a couple of examples above, but there would be many more.