When you are learning the language of a country whose people are responsible for a lot of your childhood entertainment, you’re bound to have some oh, cool! moments.
Meet Omochao, a character I happened upon quite often in the Sonic Adventure 2 video game for (sadly short-lived) Sega Dreamcast:
One day, as I was checking my dictionary to make sure I remembered the Japanese word for ‘toy’, I realised something: This guy’s name is a portmanteau of オモチャ (omocha, toy) and チャオ (chao), the name for the cute virtual pets that players of the game had the privilege of raising and nurturing. He’s a Toy Chao!
I remember making the connection some years ago between ‘Chao’ and the word ‘chaos’. The creators took the word ‘chaos’ and, instead of pronouncing it in their own language as it’s pronounced in English (ケーオス, kēosu), they decided to use a pronunciation that’s derived from treating ‘chaos’ as basically a transliteration of Japanese. And so, they got チャオス (chaosu) and dropped the last character, making it チャオ (chao). To keep the two words distinct in English writing, “the word [Chao] remains unchanged when plural.” (SNN)
I love Japanese. In case you haven’t noticed. 😀
Have you ever had a random oh, cool! moment like this?