While working as an English teacher at an all-girls’ high school in Yokohama, I quickly learned that Japanese schoolgirls speak a dialect all their own.
Schoolgirls are often criticised by teachers for having small vocabularies, and so their speech isn’t too difficult to decode... Ready to learn some girly Japanese slang?
If for some reason you want to sound like them, all you really have to do is use the following words as often as possible:
This word is used instead of 私 (watashi), meaning “I/me.” Many more conservative adults consider this improper though, because in standard Japanese うち actually means “we/us,” as in “our family,” “our company,” “our school,” etc.
Purikura are photo booth pictures that can be decorated and turned into stickers. This one is from the popular schoolgirl pop group AKB48.
This is a contraction of 気持ち悪い (kimochi warui), meaning “disgusting” or “gross.”
Adjectives like きもい (kimoi), 暑い (atsui), 寒い (samui), etc. often become きもっ (kimo’), 暑っ (atsu’), 寒っ (samu’), etc. when used as a single exclamation or at the end of a sentence.
This word has no real English equivalent, but literally it means something like “dangerous.” It can be used in an incredibly wide variety of situations.
The construction 〜んだけど (~n da kedo) is often used by schoolgirls to express emphasis and/or indignation at the end of a sentence. Be careful though, because when 〜んだけど comes in the middle of a sentence (before a comma) it simply means “but”!
This word is probably best translated as “annoying,” but its usage is far more varied than any equivalent we have in English.
In schoolgirl speak, the construction 〜くない？ (~kunai?), meaning “Isn’t it ~?” often becomes 〜くね？ (~kune?). So for example, 暑くない？ (atsukunai?), meaning “Isn’t it hot?” becomes 暑くね？ (atsukune?).
This word is used as an exclamation when something is funny or ridiculous.
You probably already know that this means “cute” or “pretty”.
This can mean “cool”, or “cute/hot” when referring to a guy.
This means “really” or “seriously.” マジで (maji de) is often used instead of the standard Japanese 本当に (hontou ni).
This prefix is added to the beginning of adjectives to exaggerate them.
This is a conversational particle added to the ends of sentences or phrases. It indicates that the speaker is engaging the other person in the conversation. But some schoolgirls seem to use it in just about every sentence!
This is a contraction of the more proper 〜じゃない (~janai). It’s added to the ends of sentences, usually to illicit the listener’s agreement or engagement with what’s being said.
There are a few other things that I don’t have the space to cover in this post, but the above words alone should allow you to understand an amazingly large percentage of schoolgirl speak. Just use them with caution, because unless you’re actually a schoolgirl yourself, talking like this will probably just make you sound totally uzai.