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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Baka, Aho - Meaning in Japanese

The word baka 馬鹿 is one of those that keeps showing up in anime everywhere. It means "stupid," but that everyone knows, right? The question is, where does baka 馬鹿 comes from and how do you use it?

(part of common anime words)

To begin with, let's take a look at the two kanji in the word baka 馬鹿: they are 馬 and 鹿,  One means "horse," and the other one means "deer," in case you don't know about animals in Japanese.

The word baka 馬鹿 in Japanese kanji next to Umagon and a deer from Konjiki no Gash Bell!! 金色のガシュベル!!

Yeah, that helped nothing.

Nobody is really sure where the word baka comes. Some say it's related to a Chinese story about people who couldn't tell a deer from a horse, others say it's a loaned word from another language. Either way, in the Japanese language somehow joining a horse and a deer together means "stupid," so let's get back to that meaning.

Aho 阿呆

Just like baka 馬鹿, the word ahou 阿呆, or just aho, is used to say "stupid" in Japanese. But what's the difference between baka and aho? They aren't the same word so they must be different, right?!

Well, what's the difference between "stupid" and "idiot"?

That's right, practically none. Both aho and baka mean the same thing! But with a couple of exceptions.

First off, there are words like ahoge アホ毛. That word is ahoge. It isn't bakage. You can't change one for the other. The word baka 馬鹿 also has certain meanings aho doesn't have.

Second off, depending on where you are in Japan, one word becomes worse than the other.

Baka in Kantou, Aho in Kansai

The word aho is used more in the kansai 関西 region of Japan while baka is used in the kantou 関東 region. That means baka is more offensive in the kansai region than aho, because saying baka is a rare thing while everyone's used to being called aho. Likewise, aho is more offensive in the kantou region as it's said less in there.

For those who can't tell the difference between these two parts of Japan, kansai 関西 is at the "west," or nishi 西, while kantou 関東 is at the "east," or higashi 東. By the way, Tokyo 東京 is literally "capital" (京) of the "east" (東).

Using Baka 馬鹿

Grammatically speaking, the word baka 馬鹿 is both a -na -な adjective and a noun. That means you can use pronouns to tell one baka from another baka, in case you're in a baka-filled environment.
  • kono baka! この馬鹿!
    This idiot!. (not the other one)
  • ano baka! あの馬鹿!
    That idiot! (now it's the other one)

That also means you can say something is baka-ish by throwing the -na particle after the baka and before a noun.
  • baka na koto 馬鹿なこと
    Stupid thing
  • baka na yume 馬鹿な夢
    Stupid dream
  • baka na yatsu 馬鹿な奴
    Stupid guy (girl, person, thing, etc.)

You can also write baka 馬鹿 using katakana カタカナ instead of kanji, turning it into バカ.  

Baka Oniichan

There isn't much difference between the many ways to use baka as an adjective, I mean:
  • baka oniichan! バカお兄ちゃん!
    Stupid brother!
  • baka na oniichan! バカなお兄ちゃん!
    Stupid brother!
  • baka no oniichan! バカのお兄ちゃん!
    Stupid brother!

All mean more or less the same thing. (more about oniichan) Only this one is a little special
  • oniichan no baka! お兄ちゃんのバカ!
    Stupid brother! (it's your fault!)

No Baka のバカ

Using the no の particle like that turns the phrase into something like oniichan's baka or someone's baka. You can think about that as someone's stupid action that led to some stupid consequences.
  • omaera ni kiita ore ga baka datta お前らに聞いた俺がバカだった
    I (ore) was stupid to ask (kiita) you guys (omaera).
  • omaera ni kiita ore no baka datta お前らに聞いた俺のバカだった
    Asking you guys was a stupid for me to do.

Are You Stupid?

If the no の particle is in the end it turns the sentence into a question. Like this:
  • baka janai no? 馬鹿じゃないの?
    Aren't you stupid?
  • baka nano? ばかなの?
    Are you stupid?

In the first case, baka janai no, it's like confirming that someone is stupid. Imagine having a vegetarian friend and he orders meat in a restaurant. You'd ask "aren't you a vegetarian?" The idea here is the same.

You can also confirm that you are not stupid by saying watashi wa baka janai 私はバカじゃない.

But there are other ways to question the stupidity of people in Japanese.
  • baka desu ka? バカですか?
  • baka ka, omae wa? バカか、お前は?
  • baka ka yo? バカかよ?
  • anata wa baka desu yo ne? 貴方はバカですよね?

Because You Are Stupid

When bad things happen, they happen because some baka went and baka-ed all over the place. Therefore, in Japanese, you explain the situation using the only words a baka can understand.
  • kimi wa baka dakara 君はバカだから
    Because you're stupid

Baka ni Suru バカにする

The phrase baka ni suru バカにする means "to make someone look like an idiot." This is often a special skill of main characters in shounen 少年 anime and can be used like this:
  • ore wo baka ni suru tsumori ka? 俺をバカにするつもりか?
    Are you trying to make me look like an idiot?
  • baka ni shinaide! バカにしないで!
    Don't make me an idiot!
    Don't try to fool me!
    Don't make fun of me!
  • baka ni sareta... バカにされた…
    [Someone] made fun of me...

Baka 馬鹿 Vocabulary

Finally, here are the meanings of some other often spoken baka 馬鹿 sentences:
  • baka gaijin! バカ外人!
    Stupid foreigner!
  • bakayaro 馬鹿野郎
    You idiot!
    (He, she,) that idiot!
  • baka desu 馬鹿です
    [I] am stupid.
    [You/they] are stupid.
    [He/she] is stupid.
  • bakadomo バカ共
    You idiots. (in plural)
    Those idiots. (in plural)
  • bakamono 馬鹿者
    One idiot person. (singular)
  • bakarashii 馬鹿らしい
    Stupid, absurd. (adjective)
  • bakabakashii 馬鹿馬鹿しい
    Stupid, bullshit (adjective)
  • Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu バカとテストと召喚獣
    Stupid and Test and Summoned Beasts (anime)

Bakari 計り

A word that sounds like baka but is not baka is the word bakari. As you can see, the word bakari starts with baka, but it has this ri at the end which makes it completely and one hundred percent different.

Except that sometimes the word bakari, or rather, its louder version bakkari ばっかり, can be shortened to bakka. So you got to pay attention.
  • Tabeta bakari nanoni, nanika tabetai 食べたばかりなのに、なにか食べたい
    Though (nanoni) I just ate (tabeta bakari), I want to eat (tabetai) something (nanika)
  • kuruma wo katta bakka janeeka? 買ったばっかじゃねーか?
    Didn't you (janeeka) just buy (katta bakka) a car? (kuruma)

Bakari can also be used to say something happens all the time.
  • ano ko wa naite bakari あの子は泣いてばかり
    That kid (ano ko) cries all the time (naite bakari)

Doubts? Post a comment below!

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