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Last month I shelled out ¥2,980 for my 2014 edition of 現代用語の基礎知識 (“Gendai Yogo no Kiso Chishiki”, “Encyclopedia of Contemporary Words”). It’s a 1,660-page monster that’s well worth the outlay, and this year publisher Jiyu Kokumin-sha, as an extra bonus, included a 74-page booklet that compiled the yearly top 流行語 (ryūkōgo, buzzwords) from over the past three decades and other useful reference information, such as lists of Japanese Nobel Prize winners and recipients of the 国民栄誉賞 (Kokumin eiyo-shō, People’s Honor Award), the most recent of whom were former sumo grand champion Taiho (posthumously) and former Yomiuri Giant baseball superstars Shigeo Nagashima and Hideki Matsui.

As soon as I get the new book home I normally flip the pages to the subsection on youth slang and patois. The list of teen lingo — which, alas, I seldom have the opportunity to demonstrate among my middle-aged peers — is broken down by 行動 (kōdō, activity); 気持ちと口グセ (kimochi to kuchiguse, feelings and favorite expressions); 遊び (asobi, play); 人間関係と日常生活 (ningen kankei to nichijō seikatsu, human relationships and daily living); ファッション (fasshon, fashion); 性 (sei, sex); and 食 (shoku, food).

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