Japanese Street Slang by Peter Constantine

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Sadly, I don’t have as much need in Japanese to describe vaginas, ejaculating or getting high as this book offers, but if I did, this is the authority I’d turn to. And while some of the slang words collected here are out of date (it was published in 1992), a lot aren’t. What’s great about the book is Constantine’s academic approach without condescension or judgement. So that we can learn the literal meaning, the etymology and the real use of words rarely found in Japanese to English dictionaries. It’s surprisingly educational about Japanese culture and amusing too, though perhaps mainly of use to translators of Japanese crime yarns. Still, reading this book will destroy the fiction (if you held it) that Japanese are somehow far too polite or cultured to use “bad” words. A sample entry:


No. 27 of 100 books I intend to read and review in 2019.

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Patrick Sherriff publishes a monthly newsletter highlighting good fiction about Japan and featuring an original painting or sketch. He lives in Abiko, Japan, with his wife and two daughters.