American "cosplay"

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American "cosplay"

Postby bakamatt » Mon Apr 29, 2013 11:18 am

I heard the word "cosplay" used for the first time in a "mainstream" context last Friday. A domestic movie reviewer, speaking of a domestic film festival, said there's be "parties and cosplay."

Mostly in the last year, I've been interested to watch the word make inroads into domestic sf fandom, replacing "costuming". It is meeting sometimes vituperative resistance, but also being used by people who care nothing about Japanese popular media or even don't know the word's origin.

This got me thinking about Japanese words that have been adopted into English. Not in the sense of words used that refer to something specifically Japanese - kimono, sushi, samurai - but words in which the source is no longer relevant. The only one I've been able to think of is "skosh," slang for "a little bit," which comes from the Japanese sukoshi, also "a little." It was apparently brought back by GIs in Okinawa during the occupation after WW II.

Someone in another context pointed out that we don't use "otaku" the same way the Japanese do, but that word is likely to remain fannish jargon, never moving into common usage. And we don't use "anime" the same way they do - we use it to mean Japanese cartoons, whereas they use it to refer to anybody's cartoons - but that's not much of a distinction.
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Re: American "cosplay"

Postby ca_jas » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:51 pm

I appreciate the topic! I have actually had friends who cosplay western franchises try to explain to me how the term, "cosplay" was somehow a western term. Although I totally knew otherwise, I never took time to research it tell now. They were confusing cosplay with "costuming", which was originally western like you said.

Interesting, Wikipedia says formerly Japanese cosplayers referred to themselves as "layers" or "reiya".

I need to think more if there are words from Japan that we use without recognizing the origin. I'm looking at this list on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_En ... ese_origin

Karaoke is probably one we've completely adopted thinking it is our own creation.
Tycoon is another??? I had no idea.
Honcho is another, as in Head Honcho.
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Re: American "cosplay"

Postby bakamatt » Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:47 am

*snort* I'm such a dinosaur - it never occurred to me that Wikipedia would have such a list.

However, I'll continue to argue that most of those don't meet my criterion, since they refer specifically to Japanese or Japanese-style things even when used in English. I'll accept kanban, tycoon (I didn't know that one either) dojo, kaon, satori, zen, futon, honcho, and urushiol.

And in hindsight, I'll add typhoon (taifu) and umami ("savory," the "fifth taste," after sweet, sour, salt, and bitter).
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Re: American "cosplay"

Postby bakamatt » Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:21 pm

I had another "cosplay" "sighting" (i.e., mainstream use of the word) today.

Not surprisingly, it was in a Comic-Con story. On today's Here And Now on NPR, there was an interview with a staff writer for Wired; she used the word without explanation, though the show's host felt obliged to explain it was it was shorthand for "costume play," without referencing the word's Japanese origin.
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Re: American "cosplay"

Postby ZeroRyoko1974 » Sun Jul 21, 2013 8:33 am

Kind of funny how things come around.
The term cosplay is a portmanteau of the English words costume and play.[1] The term was coined by Nobuyuki Takahashi of the Japanese studio Studio Hard while attending the 1984 World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Los Angeles.[2] He was impressed by the hall and the costumed fans and reported on both in Japanese science fiction magazines. The coinage reflects a common Japanese method of abbreviation in which the first two moras of a pair of words are used to form an independent compound. Costume becomes kosu (コス), and play becomes pure (プレ).

So English isn't the only language that liberaly barrows from other languages :lol:
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Re: American "cosplay"

Postby bakamatt » Tue Oct 13, 2015 5:01 pm

I've had my third "mundane sighting" of the word; as I and my co-worker were climbing the stairs for exercise, he used it.

As I've said before, I've been fascinated by the speed with which the word has penetrated our culture; this was the first opportunity I've had to ask someone where they learned it. In his case, it was a Simpsons computer game: the Comic Book Guy used it. My co-worker didn't recognize it, but the meaning wasn't hard to deduce with a fair degree of accuracy from the context. I don't regard that as an explanation for the rapid spread of the word, but it does at least identify a vector.

And as long as I'm here, I'll mention that I still know American "costumers" that refuse to use the word in any context, and fuss if anyone else does. I think such efforts are about as likely to succeed as peoples' past protests that "That isn't what 'gay' means!" My practice is to use "costumer" when I mean someone who wants to display their skill, and "cosplayer" when they want to homage a character, but I expect that distinction won't survive the trip into general usage. Likely there the two words will be used synonymously.
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Re: American "cosplay"

Postby bakamatt » Wed Dec 09, 2015 10:09 am

One more occurrence this morning on NPR's Morning Edition: in a story about a convention for female video gamers in Saudi Arabia, "cosplay, short for 'costume play'" was one of the activities cited. I'm thinking this has become a commonplace and not worth mentioning again, but I'd still love to see a study on the word's penetration into our culture.
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