What are contracted words like rimokon?

Contracted names

Shortened words are common in Japanese. Long words are contracted into shorter forms. For example, the University of Tokyo, in Japanese Tōkyō Daigaku (東京大学) becomes Tōdai (東大) and "remote control", rimōto kontorōrā, becomes rimokon. Names are also contracted in this way. For example Takuya Kimura, in Japanese Kimura Takuya, an entertainer, is often referred to as Kimutaku, from the first two kana of his first and last name.

The names of some very familiar companies are actually contractions. For example, Toshiba, Tōshiba (東芝) is a contraction of Tōkyō Shibaura (東京芝浦).

Words are contracted differently depending on the kind of word. In kanji words (jukugo), derived from Chinese, the first kanji of each of the words are often put together. For example, Tōkyō Daigaku (東京大学), "Tokyo University", becomes Tōdai (東大), and Kanji kentei (漢字検定), the test of kanji skill (see Kanji Kentei) becomes Kanken (漢検).

In loanwords and names, the most common pattern is to take the first two kana or moras, and form a new word from the four moras put together. For example "family restaurant", famirii resutoran, a low-priced restaurant, becomes famiresu. (See What is the difference between a mora and a syllable? for more about moras.)

Japanese long vowels and sokuon may disappear; Harry Potter, originally Harii Pottā (ハリー・ポッター), is contracted to Haripota (ハリポタ). Names may be altered in other ways: actress Kyoko Fukada, Fukada Kyōko (深田恭子), becomes Fukakyon (フカキョン). Brad Pitt, Buraddo Pitto (ブラッド・ピット), becomes Burapi (ブラピ).

Another common pattern is to remove the end of a long word to make a new word. anime (アニメ) is a truncated version of animēshon (アニメーション), "animation", and depāto (デパート) is a truncation of depātomento sutoa (デパートメント・ストア), "department store". These are also a kind of made-in-Japan English (see What are these pseudo English words like salaryman?).

Many four character abbreviations have been created for particular products or TV shows. For example, Pokemon (ポケモン), the well-known card game and animated series, is a contraction of Poketto Monsutā (ポケット・モンスター), "Pocket Monsters".


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