Fat Otaku Conversation Generator

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To comprehend what's going on in this post, you have to understand the basics of what an "otaku" is.


(fandom slang) One with an obsessive interest in something, particularly anime or manga.


From Japanese オタク (otaku, nerd, geek), from お宅 (otaku, honorific for “you”), originally the honorific version of (taku, home).  [VHM:  reminiscent of "homebody".]



Full length Wikipedia article, with the following contents:

The bases of our story are to be found in this article:

"'Otaku speak' goes viral in Taiwan after man unsuccessfully woos woman:  Awkard online conversation style becomes latest trend in Taiwan’s meme world", by Stephanie Chiang, Taiwan News, Staff Writer, 2021/09/19

Beginning portion:

A set of screenshots showing a man’s awkward attempt to woo a woman surfaced on Wednesday (Sept. 14), going viral in Taiwan, where netizens now end every sentence with short descriptive phrases such as “smiles brightly” and “pats head.”

The original post appeared in a Facebook group named “Anime and Manga Headquarters” (動漫本部), in which a user named Lala Du asked, “Does everyone who has read manga or seen anime talk like this?” A screenshot showed a person, presumably a man, asking if the message recipient, presumably a woman, reads manga or watches anime, to which the recipient replied, “Sometimes.”

The man began his next sentence with “Ma” (嘛), an imitation of a Japanese auxiliary similar to “well,” and said, “Then we are very compatible, www (pats head.” He then asked, “Do you have a boyfriend (tea.”

“Www” is internet slang derived from the Japanese word for “to smile” or “to laugh.”  [VHM: warau 笑う] The single parenthesis is often used online to supplement comments with physical reactions.

When the woman confirmed that she did not, the man said, “Ma, then do you want to be with me www? (tilts head.”

I think that the words that come after the single parenthesis are like a verbal emoticon.

Enthusiasts have even created a "Fat Otaku Conversation Generator".  As a test, I entered the following sentence into the generator:

Wǒ zài Bīnxīfǎníyǎ Dàxué jiào wényánwén

"I teach classical Chinese at the University of Pennsylvania"
The result was disappointing, because the generator returned the identical sentence:

Wǒ zài Bīnxīfǎníyǎ Dàxué jiào wényánwén

"I teach classical Chinese at the University of Pennsylvania"

I decided to try something more suitable, and it worked well:

Nǐ juédé tā kě'ài ma?


"Do you think she's cute?"

The generator returned:

Ma nǐ juédé tā kě'ài ma? (sāo tóu

嘛 你覺得她可愛嗎? (搔頭

"Ma, do you think she's cute? (scratches head"

The prevalence of Japaneseisms in this kind of conversation reveals the love of Taiwanese youth for manga, anime, etc. (of course, as I have pointed out in various posts, mainland Chinese youth also adore such aspects of Japanese pop culture) and the lasting impact of a half-century of Japanese colonization of Taiwan, with its deeply implanted educational and cultural roots.


Selected readings

[h.t. Anthony Clayden]


  1. jin defang said,

    September 20, 2021 @ 2:30 pm

    can someone explain how "anorak" became a symbol for geek/otaku? I know it only as an Inuit word for a hooded jacket with a kangaroo-like pouch to put one's hand, keys, whatever in to keep them warm or from getting lost.

  2. a s said,

    September 20, 2021 @ 2:56 pm

    The meaning of "otaku" is supposedly that it's a rather distant-sounding second-person pronoun that they liked to call people, not that they "stayed home" or anything. "Anorak" comes from the same type of people in the UK being obsessed with trains and standing out in the cold watching them. (Same thing happens in Japan – there's a video this year of a bunch of train otaku standing in the street blocking traffic to take a video of some rare train passing by, and a white guy bikes past blocking their view, so they all scream profanities and death threats at him for minutes.)

    Also see: https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/notices-bulge-owo-whats-this. Or don't.

  3. Thomas Rees said,

    September 20, 2021 @ 4:08 pm

    So a trainspotter anorak is a 鉄オタ (tetsu-ota < tetsudō otaku).

    Off topic, how did the Japanese text in the original post get obliqued? Makes it look like early (70s-80s) word processing.

  4. AntC said,

    September 20, 2021 @ 4:48 pm

    Thank you Prof Mair for a comprehensive explanation.

    And happy mid-Autumn Festival!

  5. Victor Mair said,

    September 20, 2021 @ 4:52 pm

    On the meaning of "otaku", please check all the many references and links I provided.

  6. AntC said,

    September 20, 2021 @ 5:00 pm

    can someone explain how "anorak" became a symbol for geek/otaku?

    I had an anorak in 1970's Britain. This was before puffer-jacket technology, the outer material was more a sort of artificial oilcloth. WIndproof, rainproof and hooded (with fake fur trim) was crucial for standing around outside. (So this was also before such people had the internet to be nerdy over.) Yes copious pockets for nefarious equipment/sly cigarettes.

    Pretty much everyone in their teens had one; but trainspotters were the most conspicuous to 'civilians'. See also 'Parka' on wikipedia — this was the 'mod' sub-culture, who rode 'scooters' (motos) and fancied themselves as 'leader of the pack'.

  7. cameron said,

    September 20, 2021 @ 5:54 pm

    An "anorak" in Britain refers to the kind of garment often called a "snorkel" in the US – stereotypical geek garb, I guess

  8. AB said,

    September 21, 2021 @ 3:25 am

    "Anorak" feels like a time-capsule word, from the days when geekiness meant spending too much time *outside* (looking at trains, planes, birds, whatever) rather than, as now, being a shut-in.

  9. Philip Taylor said,

    September 21, 2021 @ 7:04 am

    [an anorak] "Pretty much everyone in their teens had one" — perhaps in your social circle, Ant, but most definitely not in mine !

  10. Andreas Johansson said,

    September 21, 2021 @ 7:56 am

    Tangentially, Wiktionary has "Japanism" rather than "Japaneseism" for a Japanese-style impression. Looking a their list of coordinate terms, it appears to be wildly inconsistent whether such words are formed from the name of the language or directly from the relevant root.

  11. Francois Lang said,

    September 21, 2021 @ 9:38 am

    There's a wine-blog called


    well known to wine geeks (anoraks?).

  12. Steve Plant said,

    September 21, 2021 @ 3:41 pm

    The 'wineanorak', so that's what they mean by the Parkarization of wine.

  13. Phil H said,

    September 21, 2021 @ 7:17 pm

    There is a weird phenomenon in phone notifications where the phone’s native smiley set is different to the app’s smiley set. I mainly use WeChat, so using that as an example: if someone sends me a WeChat message using a standard smiley :-), in the notification that pops up on my phone, it displays as a smiley face. But if they use one of WeChat’s vast set of extended smileys, in the notification it displays as text like this: “Oh, I didn’t know [disappointed]” When I click through to the app, the smiley displays as intended.
    This phenomenon has occasionally inspired me to make up my own nonexistent smileys for the purposes of amusement:
    “My boss just told me to translate 信息化 as informatisation [look of a man holding in a fart]” It works a bit like the slang use of “hashtag” used to work, where you could make up hashtags to give comment on what you were saying, even if you weren’t actually on Twitter and applying a Twitter hashtag.
    Perhaps it is the same kind of mental process led to this otaku’s peculiar texting style.

  14. Francois Lang said,

    September 22, 2021 @ 9:39 am

    @ Steve Plant


    For the non-wine geeks among us: Robert Parker is (was?) a very influential wine critic, who favored big, bold, wines, which have recently, deo gratias, fallen out of favor as his influence has waned.

  15. 艾力·黑膠(Eric) said,

    September 22, 2021 @ 11:31 am

    After having just heard about the latest Chris Chan saga and then spending too many hours delving further into the decades-long backstory, I find this heartbreaking.

  16. rpsms said,

    September 22, 2021 @ 2:42 pm

    Some of this is really just part of the continuum of "emotes," which have been a thing as far back as the 70s (at least). MUDs (Multi-User-Domains; where domain = region/land/area aka dungeon) were (are) text-based role-playing adventure type of interactions and there usually is an "emote" command with stock "actions" that are emitted as phrases (you type "smile" everyone sees "Bob smiles happily").

    This carried over to chat realms such as IRC, and many people would just put brackets around emotes, often using the "emote alias" instead of the full phrase.

    This, along with abbreviation, is the origin of many of the common emoticons/emojis:) but can also be used for multiline emotes:

    (oO) ?

  17. AntC said,

    September 23, 2021 @ 12:39 am

    @Philip I find your case 'not proven', as they say in the Scottish courts.

    I see no evidence from your online persona that you were ever a teen.

  18. Philip Taylor said,

    September 23, 2021 @ 2:11 am

    Were I to mention an Ariel Arrow, a Norton 99, Johnson's, the Nightingale, the Saltbox, the Ace, etc., might that not only add a modicum of verisimilitude to my assertion that I too was once a teen but also explain why none of my peers would have been seen dead in an anorak ?

  19. Michèle Sharik Pituley said,

    September 23, 2021 @ 12:18 pm

    cameron wrote: "An "anorak" in Britain refers to the kind of garment often called a "snorkel" in the US"

    I've never considered a snorkel to be a garment — it's a breathing tube. A google search only shows the swimming tool.

    Granted, I'm in my 50s, so maybe it's some new-fangled slang the whippersnappers are using these days. What have I missed???

  20. David Marjanović said,

    September 23, 2021 @ 2:00 pm

    Interesting. In German, Anorak has long been the normal word for a winter jacket filled with down or microfibers, with no social connotations whatsoever.

  21. AntC said,

    September 24, 2021 @ 2:34 am

    @Michèle: wikipedia search for anorak leads to (snorkel) parka./there is no distinct entry for 'anorak'.

    Being a Brit, I hadn't heard of this sense of snorkel before. You can see on that wiki how the parka came to be known as a snorkel — which is indeed in the sense you're familiar with. The usage dates to the 1950s, nothing new-fangled about it. The extension of the meaning seems perfectly plausible.

  22. Steve Plant said,

    September 24, 2021 @ 3:22 am

    Anorak, snorkel, parka…

    Pity the poor Eskimo who has only one word for, err, anorak.

  23. Michèle Sharik Pituley said,

    September 25, 2021 @ 10:25 am

    @AntC: wikipedia search for anorak leads to (snorkel) parka./there is no distinct entry for 'anorak'.

    Ah, I didn’t google anorak, I googled snorkel & only came up with breathing tube. I had never before in my life heard a parka called a snorkel.

    I just asked my 59-yr old Canadian wife about this. I showed her a picture of a parka and ask her what it’s called in Canada. She said parka. I asked if she’d ever heard it called a snorkel and she looked at me like I was crazy and said no. LOL

    I then asked her if she knew if was called an anorak in British. She said she knew that word, but thought it described a garment worn by First Nations people. I asked “isn’t that a parka?” She said that a parka has a zipper; an anorak does not. It’s a pullover.

    Anyway, in my experience, if you say “parka” in the US, people will know it’s the jacket. If you say “snorkel”, most will not think of the jacket. ‍♀️

  24. SusanC said,

    October 1, 2021 @ 5:18 am

    Much fun with British English vs. Am English in this thread, even if it started out being about Japanese.

    As a native British English speaker: “anorak” literally means a type of outdoor garment for use in rainy weather, but, by extension, to the type of person typically wearing such a garment, which (the idiom assumes) is someone engaged in a nerdy outdoor hobby such as train spotting.

    So .. a bit like “otaku”. But, I am led to understand that “otaku” in Japanese speech is very perjorative, whereas “otaku” used in English as a loan word from Japanese is only mildly perjorative, and has roughly the same meaning and degree of offensiveness as “anorak”,

  25. SusanC said,

    October 1, 2021 @ 5:23 am

    To further clarify the Br. English use of “anorak” … I think the implication is that the garment is not fashionable, but the wearer of it (being only concerned over practicality) doesn’t care and wears it anyway,

  26. SusanC said,

    October 1, 2021 @ 5:28 am

    And then of course you have western women who have learned most of their Japanese from watching anime, and have a tendency to use phrases that are perhaps slightly inappropriate…

  27. Philip Taylor said,

    October 3, 2021 @ 3:34 pm

    Susan — "whereas “otaku” used in English as a loan word from Japanese is only mildly perjorative" — is 'otaku' really used in English ? If so, may I ask in which topolect(s) ?

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