Gyaru moji

Gyaru moji

Japanese style: Gyaru moji (‘gal characters’) is a whole slew of slang exclusive to Gyarus that’s based on text messages and mobile culture…

Gyaru-moji (“gal’s alphabet”) is a style of obfuscated Japanese writing popular amongst Japanese school girls, boys and other young people It is also called Heta-moji, (Heta means ‘poor’ in hand writing). Like the English phenomenon of SMS language, Gyaru-moji is a japanese mobile phone language. It is most often used for sending cell phone text messages, but while text is used as a form of informal shorthand, a message typed in gyaru-moji usually requires more characters and effort than the same message typed in plain Japanese. Since writing in gyaru-moji requires extra effort, and due to the perception of confidentiality, sending gyaru-moji messages to a peer is seen as a sign of informality or friendship.

Also known as heta moji, (“unskillful characters”), gyaru moji were created several years ago by young women who felt the need to keep the contents of their text messages secret from their parents, male classmates, and teachers, as well as nosy passengers on crowded trains. Sending a message to a female pal in gyaru moji is considered a gift of love, since typing it can take twice as long as inputting the same sentiment in standard Japanese. It has been proposed that magazines targeted at teenage girls first made it popular, and the phenomenon started to gain wider attention in media around 2002.

Find out more about gyaru-moji

Like leet, gyaru-moji replaces characters with visually similar characters or combinations of characters. Hiragana consisting of connected strokes are replaced by symbols or Greek letters. Hiragana consisting of detached elements are replaced by sequences of kana, Western letters, or symbols. Katakana is frequently replaced by similar-looking kanji. Kana and romaji may be mixed freely, even within a word, and Latin letters in romaji may be replaced with similar-looking Cyrillic letters. Compound kanji are decomposed into left and right elements, which are written as individual kanji or kana.

In addition to the basic obfuscation provided by character replacement, another technique used to disguise the content of the message is to use vocabulary and grammar that is uncharacteristic of standard usage. Combined with character substitution, this can make the meaning of the message almost unintelligible to those not “in the know”. This is analogous to the use of leet’s specialized grammar. However, the flexible nature of the Japanese language means that although gyaru-moji phrases sound peculiar to someone expecting formal or even commonly colloquial Japanese, they are often technically still grammatically correct.

The gyaru-moji style has been met with increasing criticism, as its use continues to expand.Reported instances of girls using the writing in school work, OLs (Office Ladies) adopting the style in the workplace, and gyaru-moji being used in karaoke subtitling, are examples of this.


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