Fun With Vocabulary

There’s a new anime out called I Don’t Have Many Friends. I haven’t seen it, and know nothing about it, but it’s inspired a certain amount of discussion amongst fandom, not for the plot, the characters, or the art, but for how the title of the show is abbreviated.

The Japanese name is 僕は友達が少ない, a typical mix of kanji and hiragana, which transliterates as Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai. In English, we might abbreviate it as BoToSu, or even BTS. The ‘take the first syllables’ apporach is common in Japan, but another possibility is to just drop the kanji portion and leave the hiragana, so you get はがない, or

Note that the は symbol is pronounced “wa” when used as a particle (indicating that the preceeding word is the object of the verb…I think), but “ha” everywhere else, and I guess there’s a bit of a bunfight going on over how to pronounce the abbreviated title.

I don’t know if this really is clever word use by the Japanese, or clever marketing by the anime company.

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