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SMAC! Web Magazine

LOST (and FOUND) in TRANSLATION #011 – “DOYAGAO”

Japan is well known as the land of manners and humility, but of course, not everyone in manga needs to follow this stereotype. Especially in Shonen manga, you get lots of loud, extroverted heroes. Now, if you have a character who’s brimming with confidence, and likes to show off a little, then there’s one special facial expression that they should have in their repertoire…

Today’s word: ドヤ顔 (Doya-gao)

“Dou ya?” means “How about that?” in the Kansai dialect. (Kansai is the area around Osaka and Kyoto, on the western side of Japan) “Gao” means “face”. Basically, a doyagao is a super smug expression that seems to say “I’m pretty damn cool, right?” Use it after you’ve done something awesome, to make sure everyone knows how bad-ass you are.  If done correctly, it will probably irritate the person on the receiving end.

LFT_011 doyagao
“Dou ya? I’m pretty damn cool, right?”

 

As an example, I’d like you to think of Yagami Light from Death Note. He’s a pretty plain character in terms of looks. Just a normal (if handsome) university student. No special costume, no tattoos, nothing. But his facial expressions are amazing! Every time he does something diabolically clever, he flashes an amazing doyagao at the camera!

(Need help picturing all this? Go put ドヤ顔 into google image search and see what you get!)

The phrase “doyagao” was originally coined by a comedian from Kansai. The people of Kansai are thought to be a little less stiff than the Tokyo-dwellers and they’re known for their comedians and sense of humor.
In English, it’s hard to represent an accent in writing without butchering a lot of spelling, but in Japanese, writing out an accent is not only possible, it’s considered an important part of characterization. For the reasons mentioned above, slight wild characters often speak in the kansai accent! (sadly, this is often lost in translation…)

For such a small country, Japan has loads of regional dialects, and depending on where you go, people might speak a little differently. The Japanese in your college textbook? Well, that’s 標準語 (hyoujungo – literally “standard language”) and that’s based on what they speak in Tokyo. But if you ever visit Japan, I recommend also spending sometime outside of Tokyo. You might learn some words that they don’t teach you in Japanese 101!

 

( ・´ー・`) Doya? Good article right?

 

Penmaru