Thursday, November 30, 2017

w's At The End of Phrases in Japanese? ww, www, wwww?!

Sometimes in anime there's a scene with a computer or laptop and we get to see the beauty that are internet forums in Japan: a bunch of anonymous trolls trolling non-stop. And then, of course, there are the comments, which sometimes end up in a very peculiar way: with a bunch of w's.

What does the w mean in Japanese? What about two w's? ww? Three?! www? Is it World, Wide and Web???

ww in Japanese internet comments in the anime Saint Oniisan and Inuyashiki

Nope. It isn't.

The w stands for warau 笑う, which means "to laugh" in Japanese.

w vs. ww vs. www

There's practically no difference between having one w, two, ww, three, www, or an exaggerated number of w's, wwwwwwwwwwwww. It's all pretty much the same thing.


The w is pronounced either warau or just wara, and that's repeated if the w is repeated and you care enough to repeat it: ww would be warawara, www, warawarawara, wwww, warawarawarawara, wwwww, warawarawarawarawara, wwORAORAORAORAORA!!! I think you got the point already!

Internet Slang

It goes without saying that this w stuff is about an internet slang, so, although it does stand for warau, you'll rarely see it outside of the internet. Sometimes you might see it in manga and anime targeted at the net-savvy otaku, but nobody will write a letter or document containing this.

In a sense, the w in Japanese is like saying lol, or rofl, or lmao, or whatever people use these days to say they found something absolutely mediocre and not that interesting at all funny .

Why a Letter?

Sure, w isn't part of the Japanese alphabet, it's romaji, so one has to wonder what is such a Latin letter doing in the middle of all the Japanese characters. The answer is very simple: you can type Japanese kana and kanji, in a computer, by typing romaji, so every Japanese troll knows the letter w is the letter the romaji for warau begins with.

Why at The End?

Normally, a Japanese "emoji" are simply kanji between parentheses like this:
  • (笑)

See, since it's the kanji for laughter, that thing means "laughing." And such things are normally written at the end of the message.

From (笑) to w

Since both (笑) and w means "laughing," why use one instead of the other?

Well, actually, (笑) exited before w, but then the lazy fucks internet users figured out that it takes a whole lot of typing "to input," nyuuryoku suru 入力する, that emotion into text form.
  1. w
  2. a
  3. r
  4. a
  5. u
  6. [space] 笑う
  7. [backspace] 笑
Result: (笑)

Then there are people who've mastered the on'yomi readings of kanji and fiddled with the IME just to shitpost post on the internet and send messages through LINE. They are able to reduce it to just (shou) (笑), but that's still 7 keystrokes.

So they then reduced it to (shou (笑, six keystrokes, because who needs closing parenthesis anyway? And consequently pissed off half of the world because CLOSE YOUR DAMN PARENTHESES DEAR KAMISAMA!!!

Then it went further to (w, until it was finally reduced to the single-stroke w we have.

So that's how and why w means "lol" in Japanese: laziness. Just pure... laziness.

w vs. (笑)

But wait, now we know that w came from (笑), (at least according to wolv-san, wは「(笑)」から変化したものらしいです), but is w really the same thing as (笑)?

It's always easy to spot the w's in anime, but there doesn't seem to be that many (笑). What's going on?

Well, apparently, there is a difference. (「w」と「笑」の違いは、相手への敬意にある)

The difference would be that the (笑) emoji is perceived like a gentle, fun laugh, while w, a slang, is perceived as a mocking laugh. An analogy:
  • (笑)
  • w

Because of this, w can be taken as someone mocking you. It can also not be taken as such. It depends. But that means w is, on average, worse than (笑), which would be the gentler and less cynic version of it.

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