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  5. "宅男喜欢做什么?"


Translation:What does an otaku like to do?

April 2, 2018



What the hell is otaku


Otaku is a term that was imported from Japan. My understanding is that it's the kind of person that stays in a lot and watches a lot of cartoons.


Yeah, that's clear from the context after you finish the lesson. The point is that you can't learn the meaning of the Chinese word if no one knows the meaning of the "English" translation. If it were a a transliteration from Chinese to English (e.g. youtiao) that would be one thing, but neither English-speakers nor Chinese speakers say "otaku."


I appreciate your concern, but "otaku" does have a solid foothold as a loanword in English, especially in "netslang". I think it's a little tricky here when they are translating niche Chinese terms into the equivalent niche English terms.


No, it does not have a solid foothold as a loanword in English. I don't know what circles you hang out in, but this is super out there.


No it does not.


Yes it definitely does.


Actually that's partially correct. English speaking Asians commonly use both the Chinese term "宅男/宅女" and the English term borrowed from Japanese, "Otaku".


Lots of English speakers call ourselves otaku lol.


Not enough for me to have heard it.


And your social circles likely have slang that I've never heard of. However, there are easily tens of thousands of people in the US who call themselves otaku. If you'd like to get a feel for what the word otaku means in the US, I invite you to look here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otakon Note the slogan in the logo, and also the attendance stats for the last 15 years.


An otaku doesn't have to stay in a lot and doesn't have to watch cartoons. It's basically anybody who's deeply into any kind of interest or hobby. They should have gone with nerd or geek or maybe even fanatic or boffin.

In English I guess otaku tends to be used for people who are specifically into Japanese influenced hobbies and interests.


I am Japanese. The word is very common and should not be used in the classroom.


Otaku is a Japanese term for people with obsessive interests, commonly towards the anime and manga fandom.



It can be any interest. When I first learned this word the main interest was computers and electronics and at the time the word came into English one of the most famous quirky kinds of otaku was the trainspotter. But they can be into anything. Could be a photography or blacksmithing or whatever.


some kind of sushi


is AN otaku. This program don't accept it without an article


Another exercise in this lesson accepts "nerd" as a translation for "宅男"; it should be accepted here for consistency.


Yes, nerd or geek are the closest English equivalents for both 宅男/宅女 and the Japanese otaku. While otaku has been picked up by a certain segment of the English speaking population it's far from being widespread.


Yeah, I thought myself pretty knowledgeable in such things, and I'd never heard the term before.


I would say it is widespread. I've known it for at least quarter of a century. But to compare it to other words in this unit it's a lot less widespread than "foodie", even though that's a more recent word. It is a ton more widespread though than "provincial tycoon" which seems like it was just made up for this course.


I agree with you Patrick :-)




Shouldn't it accept the sentence in plural as well? What do otakus like to do?


I had to look it up in the dictionary but then I unconsciously wrote "otaki" as the plural.


"Otaku" can be either singluar or plural. I've never seen or heard it used with an "s," but since we're talking about slang here, if some region does pluralize it as "otakus," then that should be accepted as an alternate translation.


I looked up three Chinese dictionaries on this word - two didn't have it and the third was 'A guy who stays at home all the time, typically spending a lot of time playing online games.' This is a phenomenon that has only been around for twenty years or so, and there isn't really an English word or phrase which covers this, at least one which has come into widespread use. Otaku which 宅男 is derived from, is not widespread but it is the closest term and seems now to have become the main English word for this kind of phenomenon. 'Nerd' and 'geek' have more a sense of someone who is heavily into computers and technology, although nerd can segue over into anyone who is socially awkward and interested in intellectual pursuits. Nerds and Geeks are often quite happy to socialise, at least amongst themselves.


Among many things, that's why the Duolingo is great. It creates a spontaneous multilingual community which can clear the meanings of the "hardest" words, much better than any expert linguist in the world.


In Japanese the word "otaku" fits very well with your definition of "nerd" and "geek". In English "otaku" mostly means a nerd or geek who into anime and manga, or a nerd or geek who is into other Japanese nerdy or geeky things.


I'm not sure that geek has such a specific connotation as nerd in English. You can be a comic book geek, a computer geek, a music geek, a film geek, or even a football geek. Nerd tends to be more associated with "less obviously social" and intellectual pursuits. Would geek be a better fit to otaku?


Now this is hella funny. I agree with most everyone else that it's not commonplace enough to use in this course, though. Only reason I'm unfortunate enough to understand is because I watch and read up on news from all over the world, and I've come across this evolutionary failure on occasion.


Otaku is not an English word. Since this is a Chinese course why not just use the Chinese term zhainan.


"Otaku" came from Japanese, "course" came from French. Big deal. They're both English now too. Anyway I agree they shouldn't use the word "otaku" here, they should use "nerd" or "geek".


You can play "what does it mean to be an English word?", but if you want to take what non-linguists often use, i.e. "Is it in the dictionary?", then yes, otaku is an English word at this point. (It's in the OED but not yet in Merriam-Webster, FWIW.)


Just call them anime nerds. Or japanimation if youre feeling less PC. No english speaker who isnt at some level an otaku would use or even know the word otaku.


An otaku doesn't have to be interested in anime.


Otaku is a word taken from Japanese that basically means someone who stays at home and doesnt go out. if you look at the japanese translation, "taku otoko" it literally translates to "man at home" Agree that it doesnt necessarily have to be someone who has an interest in anime although many otakus do. Despite it being a japanese word it has become used here in the west to mean much the same thing. I think it is very intersting and useful to know how to write the characters and it definitely fits well into the "net slang" duolingo category, as its a word that many people now use to describe a particular characteristic whether they are Japanese or not.

Hippietrail, your replies in these comments are correct. :) ~

Regardless of whether or not you are an otaku I definitely think its useful word to know and be aware of in the internet world. And also its one of these cases where a word from another culture has been "borrowed" and started being used in other languages which is interesting in itself. I know at least that in English I have seen the term around a lot. :)


Thanks 1ostwolf!

Some otakus go out a lot, at least to otaku places. Densha otaku (trainspotters) travel around a lot to different train stations sometimes in different cities and prefectures. That doesn't mean they're sociable. The local Denden Town here in Osaka is full of otaku both Japanese and gaijin going out every night.

There is another Japanese term for the ones that don't go out at all: hikikomori (引きこもり). English "shut-in".

But just like the English words "nerd" and "geek", the Japanese word "otaku" is fuzzy. It means different things to different people and changes over the decades. Also, in English "otaku" is mostly used to refer to nerds/geeks who are into specifically Japanese hobbies, and anime is certainly one of the biggest.

"Otaku" has much a much broader range of meaning in Japanese than it does in English, which should be careful to distinguish when we're using it in those two contexts.


Yes I've heard of the term hikkikomori which i find very interesting also, the way I saw it was otaku was having strong interests in nerdy things and perhaps not socialising as often as a lot of people do and hikkikomori was more extreme in not leavng the house, some not even leaving their bedroom. I have seen a lot of documentaries and shows on it. There is a very good anime series called "welcome to the nhk" where the main character is supposed to be a hikkikomori and it is a very good and interesting show. :)


Thanks for that in-depth explanation!

also, I would presume that if they use the word "otaku" in a Chinese to English class, then it is meant in the English sense (as opposed to the Japanese sense).


Yes I wonder this myself. I've now spent more time in China than in Japan but while in Japan I hear "otaku" all the time whereas I had no idea there was even an equivalent Chinese word since I never heard anyone use it during my visits...

My hunch is that it's somewhere between nerd or geek and otaku but I'd love to here from a Chinese native speaker who has experience with the English and Japanese words or cultures as well to be able to put it in perspective.


宅 (house/residence/abode) + 男 (man/boy)= 宅男 (otaku/オタク in Japanese)


Hey mods, clearly there's a lot of disagreement with you that otaku is a common English word. The fact is, you're wrong if you expect the average language learner to know it. I recommend one of the dozen suggestions brought up in these comments.


"otaku" is a Japanese term that very few Americans would know. It is a kind of reclusive computer nerd. It isn't even Chinese!


"couch potato" is the best translation i can think of.... or maybe, "home body".


A couch potato is usually a lazy person with few interests. In Japan few otakus are even overweight and have one or more fanatical interests.

A homebody is somebody who prefers to stay home than go out, but is not necessarily asocial. An English word for somebody with a pathological aversion to ever going outside the home is a "shut in", and Japanese has a special word for that: hikikomori.


I keep forgetting the an, repeating this question for the 3rd ald...


I used the word "otaki" without thinking, it's natural to pluralize one foreign word according to the grammatical rules of an entirely different but well assimilated foreign language.


If you are referring to the Latin "us"→"i" pluralization, the word "otaku" does not end in "us", therefore making it unsuitable for this rule in the first place.

Also, I don't believe that would otherwise be true. You'll see that even the plural of the relatively common word "octopus" is disputed. Many refute the Latinate "octopi" for the English "octopuses" or even the (frankly pedantic) Greek "octopodes".


Aw, come on. Octopodes is fun, not pedantic. :)


"Zachariah" is not English either if you're going to be like that.

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