Glossary and vocabulary


  • Premium Member

    I became aware of the short novel genre via Amazon Fantasy and SF. I find common use of untranslated Japanese terms such as isekai oni-chan, mo, otaki etc; or genre specific terms such as "Harem Novel" in either the works themselves or the comments in the various forums. This can be quite confusing or jarring when reading. Some of these terms are obvious from context most aren't. I realize that most in-groups such as the readers of short novels, have an in-jargon. But for individuals like me who haven't been around the genre that long and definitely don't speak or read Japanese; a few page glossary-dictionary of the commonly used untranslated or genre specific terminology and honorifics would be very helpful, especially if indexed on J Novel's homepage so it could be easily accessed from the homepage



  • Harem is exactly what it sounds like. It's not Japanese jargon, but a sub-genre of romance in which there are 3 or more romantically interested heroines.

    • Isekai - It's the setting trope in which the protagonist is transported/reincarnated into another world. Isekai is accepted into the general terms to know because it can't be translated without being ridiculously bulky.
    • Onii-chan - Older Brother - Typically used by a younger sister to refer to her elder brother. Kind of a cute way while the more mature way is Onii-san.
    • mo - I don't think I've seen this weeaboo translation used in J-Novel Club's translations. I'm pretty sure it's a sound effect/mumble. Like jeez.
    • otaki - Don't even know what this one is. If it's used somewhere, I can be roughly 70% sure it would have some sort of translator note beside it or it should be properly translated.

  • Member

    Not to be rude but google is a thing. Like I don't think it should be JNC's responsibility to spoon feed us common anime/manga/light novel jargon. I didn't know what onii-chan meant several years ago, same with otaku, but when I googled them I understood.


  • Member

    @legitpancake said in Glossary and vocabulary:

    Not to be rude but google is a thing. Like I don't think it should be JNC's responsibility to spoon feed us common anime/manga/light novel jargon. I didn't know what onii-chan meant several years ago, same with otaku, but when I googled them I understood.

    It's not their responsibility, but enough people have come on these forums to ask what certain things mean or why some words are left untranslated that I think there's value in taking a moment to stop and reflect on whether this status quo is satisfactory.

    Obviously, as someone who proactively seeks information in order to fill gaps, this is not a solution that directly benefits you, but why purposely turn away people who would benefit from a glossary?


  • Premium Member

    I think it is the responsibility of a writer to make a localized work as accessible as possible (without censorship or just wild alterations). You want your story to be accessible to a wide enough audience as possible. You don't want to force people to close your book to Google something with any sort of frequency.

    But I don't think a glossary is necessary for that. Leaving enough context clues for the reader should suffice. Of course, there's stuff that still remains a challenge, like Yandere or Chunnibyou (some use Middle Grade Syndrome... But even that term means nothing to us Americans, and quite frankly sounds worse than Chuuni to me, even if it's a direct translation).



  • @terrence said in Glossary and vocabulary:

    Chunnibyou (some use Middle Grade Syndrome... But even that term means nothing to us Americans, and quite frankly sounds worse than Chuuni to me, even if it's a direct translation).

    Yea, I much prefer the use of Chuuni over middle school syndrome or "living in a fantasy world". :-P


  • Translators

    @aruseus493 said in Glossary and vocabulary:

    Isekai is accepted into the general terms to know because it can't be translated without being ridiculously bulky.

    I think it can. "Alternate world," "other world," and sometimes "parallel world," among others, often work. Then again, if you're thinking of isekai as having its full genre implications (often including reincarnation, fantasy world, etc.), I might agree there.

    "Mo" (or more properly, "mou") is an expression of frustration, annoyance, or exasperation--as @Aruseus493 says, it can usually be rendered "geeze" or the like.

    "Otaki" - My guess is this is a typo for "otaku," i.e. a nerd, geek, or (in many cases) diehard anime/manga fan.

    In general, I'm with @Terrence in the belief that a translated work should be basically accessible in the target language. The tricky part is that not everyone knows the same words, or agrees with what does or doesn't constitute a "wild alteration" or other unacceptable change. For example, I generally think words like o-nii-chan can and should be translated. Does "Big Brother" or "Big Bro" (etc.) sound 100% like perfectly normal English? Not always. But I usually think the comprehensibility outweighs the slight stylistic hiccup. In light of the need for target-language readers to be able to understand the target-language text, sometimes the idea that an untranslated term is an inherently more faithful representation of a concept can be taken too far.

    Having said all that, there is an argot among readers of light-novels, and I don't think it's wrong to at least consider what helps might be appropriate in bringing newcomers up to speed. In the meantime, as others have pointed out, a little legwork does go a long way.


  • Premium Member

    @kevin-s said in Glossary and vocabulary:

    "Mo" (or more properly, "mou") is an expression of frustration, annoyance, or exasperation--as @Aruseus493 says, it can usually be rendered "geeze" or the like.

    There are a lot of those sort of "words" that I've picked up on from watching anime, such as "eto", but overall what I'm seeing here is a generalized effort to create what could be called "Otaku Culture for Dummies".

    Where is Shinichi-san when we need him? ;-)


  • Translators

    @paul-nebeling said in Glossary and vocabulary:

    There are a lot of those sort of "words" that I've picked up on from watching anime, such as "eto" [...]

    Sure; they're effectively interjections or (occasionally) backchannel responses. Etto has less annoyance than "mou"; it can be translated "Um..."

    We have plenty of similar words in English--"Um," "Ah," "Aww," etc. Sometimes something like mou could be translated as, e.g., "Come on!"


  • Premium Member

    I think we should have a glossary of sorts here. I only knew as much of the minor words that tend to be left in place due to taking japanese in high school.

    Though I will say that the OP should be glad to have come into this form of entertainment via JNC instead of certain sections of fan-translation. Some of the tl's and their followers get downright militant if you make a post asking for clarification that they consider basic knowledge.

    I will start contributing to/create a intro to terminology thread after this weekends death march at work is over.


  • Premium Member

    @jampodevral said in Glossary and vocabulary:

    I will start contributing to/create a intro to terminology thread after this weekends death march at work is over.

    Neat. =D

    I got two we need:

    "Fighto Ippatsu"

    "Absolute Territory"


  • Premium Member

    @terrence Even in English, "absolute territory" requires explanation, and please don't ask me to remember the Japanese for it.



  • @paul-nebeling zettai ryouiki, one if not the most important of holy sights.


  • Premium Member

    The term itself is an Evangelion reference, which is confused by the official translation being "Absolute Terror".
    Admittedly, staring at the wrong woman's thighs can result in Absolute Terror.



  • @paul-nebeling I'm not a religious person, but this is heresy (lol). Zettai Ryouiki ftw!!! And don't forget the holy trinity of Zettai Ryouiki + Twintails + Tsundere.


  • Premium Member

    @paulnamida said in Glossary and vocabulary:

    And don't forget the holy trinity of Zettai Ryouiki + Twintails + Tsundere.

    ...+Ahoge


  • Premium Member

    @Aruseus493
    I just wanted to add something about mou. I had a girlfriend who said this a lot. While it's a word, it's more like a vocalization. It's meaning is obvious when you hear it but harder to parse in text. Imagine it as something like a sigh of frustration to a groan depending on context. However, the term is completely translatable.

    @paulnamida
    Is Rin Tohsaka a saint then?


  • Premium Member

    Or the ever-present "hai". While properly translated as "yes", I think I've seen more variant translations for this word than any other.


  • Premium Member

    @eins said in Glossary and vocabulary:

    Is Rin Tohsaka a saint then?

    Rin Tohsaka is a master. And we are her servants. Bow down to the Tsundere master!


  • Member

    @paul-nebeling What’s extra confusing is when “hai” means no. I never understood that lol


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