Goff and the wondrous practice of obamu

Alf picked it up from The New York Times’ Schott’s Vocab, devoted to word and phrases, but Schott picked it up from James Fallows in The Atlantic who picked it up from Amptonan.

It’s a newly-coined Japanese verb – “to Obama” – which means to persevere with optimism, ignoring all obstacles.

Writing on his blog, Ampontan, Bill Sakovich revealed that a new word – Obamu – is catching on among Japan’s youth. Sakovich credited the Japanese Teachers’ Network in Kitakyushu for the following definition:

Obamu: (v.) To ignore inexpedient and inconvenient facts or realities, think “Yes we can, Yes we can,” and proceed with optimism using those facts as an inspiration (literally, as fuel). It is used to elicit success in a personal endeavor. One explanation holds that it is the opposite of kobamu (which means to refuse, reject, or oppose).

Sakovich continued:

One more Japanese-language citation is from a Twitter tweet, which defines it simply as believing you can accomplish something. …

It remains to be seen whether this word is capable of hitoriaruki (literally, walking alone, or becoming independently viable), and whether the tweety Pollyanna definition or the more pointed Kitakyushu definition become the standard.

But considering the nature of the Internet and the Japanese love of wordplay and new coinages, it shouldn’t be long before we find out.

Fallows notes that Obama is not the first American president whose name has been converted into an ordinary word in Japanese. After the first President Bush fell ill and vomited on Japanese Prime Minister Miyazawa at a state dinner in Tokyo in 1992, the term Bushu-suru — or “do a Bush” — became a joke staple of Japanese slang. Dunno if doing a Clinton crept into the language.

Oh, and Alf supposes Phil Goff obamus, when he thinks yes, Labour can govern again, and that he will be the next Prime Minister.

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