Strange realization about natural conversation

I had a strange realization about Japanese today, and one that applies to any other language really. For the people that truly want to sounds like a native, there are so many cultural references, just like in English that cannot be attained through study, but rather growing up in/sharing certain cultural things with people.

This realization came about due to hearing a few people in the past randomly say 全部ちょうだい!… I always thought to myself ‘why do people say ちょうだい’, I always thought it was a pretty odd way of saying please outside of female speech. Well fast forward to today, I was watching Harry Potter in Japanese with my partner, and when Harry and Ron are on the train, Harry says 全部ちょうだい!when Ron cannot afford anything from the food trolley. My partner said it at the same time Harry did, loudly and enthusiastically. It suddenly all made sense, the people I had heard saying this were repeating a cultural reference from a movie in the same way English people do all the time.

I wonder how many other similar cultural references like that are hard to learn, unless you come across the original content like I stumbled upon today. Has anyone else had the same thing happen with a similar phrase that turned out to be from a famous TV show/movie/etc?


I assume this is a dubbed version and Harry Potter is the movie in question that became the cultural phrase (unless another source and HP is borrowing). In that case, kudos to the translators! Would not expect that from a dubbed movie but I imagine the opposite phenomenon happens in English for anime fans.

I don’t have any instances like above, but I like to quote from shows if catchy. For instance, in エイジハラスメント drama, I learned you can any crazy thing you want and then end with なんちゃって! (sounded more like a sarcastic なあああんちゃって) This is very 親父ギャグ and actually offensive/non-PC in the context of the show so not actually recommending it unless a super casual situation or you want to be jerk. Whether this is actually quoted often, likely not.

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Yep it was dubbed. Most high budget movies are dubbed here (very well most of the time). Exactly, the cultural reference came from the dubbed Harry Potter, which is the norm here. Not many people have watched it in English.


A while ago I heard かわごえ in reference to some one looking smug and thought it was a word I didn’t know, but seemingly it was a reference to the tv chef tatsuya kawagoe who has a reputation for being arrogant. If you google image him he does have quite a slapable face. Another which I’m not quite sure is the same is 背水の陣, which means to make a final stand, and is a reference to a chinese general who put his troops backs to a river so they couldn’t flee and would have to win or die.


Never heard of either of these! But using peoples names as references to hidden meanings is quite common in Japanese (they used to do it a lot in Terrace House). Thanks for sharing them! I’ll be sure to remember.

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I don’t have any example handy, but I fully agree with you and think it’s what makes any language feel alive. Everyday words that are now so fully ingrained in our usage of words - in any language - also often come from things like products (e.g. google, google it). It reflects what’s “in” and if you use words from a bygone age you either watch/read a lot of older stuff or talk to a lot of old people. Slightly off-topic (sorry) but to show what I mean: I recently saw an interview taken in the streets of (… Tokyo, IIRC) and it was about the use of loan words in Japanese. An elderly woman mentioned how her husband still used the word 写真台 for camera and you could see it made her cringe a little bit at how old-fashioned he was. :smiley: