Friday, February 9, 2018

haafu ハーフ

In Japanese, haafu ハーフ means "half." In some cases, it means being half-Japanese, having one parent of another nationality. And there are some other usages which derive from this.


The word haafu ハーフ is a katakanization of the English word "half," but since there's already a native word that means "half," hanbun 半分, the katakanization is mostly used with other meanings.

For example, haafu ハーフ can mean someone who's half-Japanese. Well, not necessarily Japanese. It could be half American and half Canadian, for example. But usually it means half-Japanese.

環先輩がハーフというのも聞いた事ありませんし・・・ 確かに髪とか茶色いけどたぶんプールの入りすぎで タマちゃんハーフだよーー? フランスと日本のハーフちゃん~~~~
Manga: Ouran High School Host Club, Ouran Koukou Hosuto-Bu 桜蘭高校ホスト部 (Chapter 10)
  • Context: someone said a bunch of stuff that Haruhi ハルヒ never heard about.
  • {Tamaki-senpai ga haafu to iu} no mo {kiita} koto arimasen shi...
    That {Tamaki-senpai is a "half,"} too, [I've] never {heard about}.
    [I've] never {heard about} {Tamaki-senpai being half-Japanese}, either.
  • tashika ni kami toka chairoi kedo tabun puuru no hairi-sugi de
    It's true [his] hair and [so on] is brown but [it's] probably because [he spent too long inside the pool].
    • Top signs a character doesn't have two Japanese parents:
      1. His hair is not black.
      2. His eyes aren't black, either.
    • puuru ni hairi-sugiru
      To enter the pool too much.
      To spend too long inside the pool.
    • de で particle - marks the cause of something.
  • Tama-chan φ haafu da yo----?
    Tama-chan is half-Japanese, [you didn't know]?
    • Tama-chan - Tamaki's nickname.
    • Honey-senpai uses ~chan with everything.
  • {Furansu to Nippon} no haafu-chan~~~~
    A {France and Japan's} "half"-chan.
    A person half-French and half-Japanese.
    • Since haafu ハーフ refers to a person, it can get a honorific suffix like ~chan ~ちゃん.

In English we don't call someone who's half-something literally a "half," so this usage is a wasei-gairaigo 和製外来語.


In fantasy games, and isekai 異世界 anime, a "half-elf," or haafu-erufu ハーフエルフ, is a character who's half-elf, half something else, presumably, half-human.

For example, Emilia from Re:Zero is a half-elf. Which means one of her parents is an elf, the other is a human.

Since elves have long ears, and humans do not have long ears, the peculiarity of half-elves is having slightly longer ears. I'm not joking. That's it. Ears that are a bit pointy.

Emilia エミリア, example of "half elf," haafu-erufu ハーフエルフ.
Character: Emilia エミリア
Anime: Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu Re:ゼロから始める異世界生活 (Episode 1)


In LGBT, nyuu-haafu ニューハーフ, or "newhalf," refers to a transgender person.

In 1980, in a radio program in Osaka, in a pub called "Betty's Mayonnaise," Bethi no Mayoneezu ベティのマヨネーズ, Betty would say they were "a half of man and woman," otoko to onna no haafu yo 男と女のハーフよ, and Kuwata Keisuke 桑田佳祐, hearing this, would say "then it's a newhalf," jaa nyuuhafu da ne じゃあニューハーフだね.

From then on, in 1981, Kuwata would ask which country's "half" were Betty from, that is, saying they were "half-japanese half-what?" And Betty would keep answering "half man half woman." This way, they'd keep selling her personality as a "newhalf" in the radio program.

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