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Japanese 'Word of the Year' sums up 2020 perfectly

By Katie Pask, SoraNews24

While 2020 has certainly had its share of ups, there have also been a lot of downs, and dictionary publishing company Sanseido had a lot of strong contenders for its annual Word of the Year contest.

The contest looks at pop culture and society over the past year and chooses a word that best expresses the year as a whole. For example, 2019’s Word of the Year ~Pay was reflective of the rise in popularity of cashless transaction apps, such as PayPay or Line Pay.

For 2020, a lot of new words sprung up into every day conversation such as “social distance”, “lockdown”, and “stay home”, previously unused in Japanese day-to-day life, which was why it was a huge surprise when Sanseido announced the 2020 Word of the Year was ぴえん (pien).

▼ A simple Google search for pien gives a good idea of what it means.


Pien is a word used mostly by young girls on social media to denote sadness or mild disappointment, although it can also mean crying tears of joy or happiness too. Pair it with the watery eyed emoji for that perfect pien use. For example: “I went to the shops to get some Milo, but it was all sold out! Pien."

Pien  taking the top spot was something of a shock, as most people had been fully expecting something coronavirus-related to take the top spot. But as the winner of the contest will be published in the Sanseido dictionary, it only makes sense for a word that has the potential to be used long after the year is over, and hopefully in the future we won’t need to still use words like “social distance” or “lockdown”.

Still, Japanese netizens had a lot to say about this year’s winner.

“Makes sense. After all, Japan is feeling pretty pien right now.” 

Seems like an emoji that only otaku would use.”

“This year has been kind of an anomaly, so I like that a word like pien won.”

“Pien is OK to use if you’re in your 20s, but it’s irritating when older people use it.”

“The fact that pien took the top spot is super pien — am I using it correctly?”

While pien is a word used mostly by young girls, don’t feel discouraged from trying it out in your day to day conversations. When paired with a deadpan expression, it can actually be kind of funny.

If you need some inspiration on how to use it, here’s YouTuber Hari Supiko’s “Pien Song” for you to practice with.

Source: Livedoor News via Otakomu

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japan’s 10 favorite emoji for Twitter, and how they compare to the rest of the world

-- Japan’s net users are confused and creeped out by Skype’s new “dancing turkey” emoticon

-- Comiket returns! Japan’s largest otaku convention announced for 2021 with new admission policies

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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