[Ads-l] nani (omae wa mou shindeiru)

Barretts Mail mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jan 13 20:00:01 EST 2022

Two middle-school students today told me that the word “nani” (< Japanese “what”) is well known because of it’s prominent use in anime. 

1. On the UD, noflo (https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=nani <https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=nani>) has an entry dated June 19, 2004 stating that it’s Japanese for “what”. 

2. On December 29, 2016, Nonononon (next to last page of the UD hits) has a definition of “nani sore” (what’s that?), saying it is from "Kill la Kill" and used in memes. Nani Sore Source has a 2014 video with such a clip (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3Sbuc2ueqY <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3Sbuc2ueqY>). 

3. 7ESL (https://7esl.com/nani/ <https://7esl.com/nani/>) says that “nani” is mainly used by weebs (weeaboos). On the UD, NIGGWARDXX (December 6, 2018) has written a relevant example: 

what every weeb says when they get an f in class

NANI? why do i have a fuckin f in CLASS NANI?

4. It appears that use in an English anime, "Fist of the North Star" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fist_of_the_North_Star#Internet_memes <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fist_of_the_North_Star#Internet_memes>), moved it from weeaboodom to regular slangdom. This 2017 video titled “Nani?? (Original)” appears to be one of the first big appearances of the word: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxKBHX9Datw <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxKBHX9Datw>

5. An early example in the UD from that anime is by xXSunlightBlaze420Xx <https://www.urbandictionary.com/author.php?author=xXSunlightBlaze420Xx%EF%BB%BF> on November 02, 2017 (second page of results):

"What" in Japanese.

P1: Omae wa mou shindeiru (You are already dead)
P2: Nani! (What!)


6. Here is a compilation (Pomme de Terre, November 3, 2017) in which those two lines are inserted in various anime (often in reverse order): 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iKc9__YeE8 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iKc9__YeE8> 

7. A slight antedating to this is an entry by nani the fuck on October 24, 2017 that is perhaps after the Nani?? video:

What the fuck..

8. Here is a 2018 video titled “Top 10 Anime Nani Moments”:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAlWSiKuhGE <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAlWSiKuhGE>

Merriam-Webster and Lexico are silent on this. Wiktionary has the word but as Japanese. “Nani" is also maternal grandmother in Hindi and, according to several UD entries, short for “punani”. 

Benjamin Barrett (he/his/him)
Formerly of Seattle 
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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