「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Pikers, flakers, whingers

By Samantha Loong


We all know the kind. You know, the friend who has a reputation for pulling out of plans at the last minute. The friend who cancels on lunch dates, dinner gatherings and catch-ups with a short text message when everyone else is already on their way or waiting.

In New Zealand, we call a person who often does this a "piker." And to cancel at the last minute is "to pike." For example, "Don't ask Brad to bring dessert — he'll probably just pike on us and we'll have to make something ourselves." The origins of this meaning are said to have come from the 15th century. People often used walking sticks which were known as pikes. "Pike" slowly developed into a verb when people got angry at others and demanded that they pick up their pikes and leave immediately, as in: "Pike it!" To run away like this was also seen as giving up when things got a little tough.

Being known as a piker is not a good thing. It means that you have a reputation for letting others down and being as flaky as the pastry dessert you never brought. Which brings us to another adjective for describing an unreliable person — "flaky." The verb for this is "to flake." Calling someone flaky also can imply that they are a little eccentric and forgetful. The origin of this looks to be from the 1920s, when cocaine was described as looking like "flakes," and its users "flaky."

When I first learned the Japanese verb dotakyan-suru, I was so excited. I loved how incorporating dotan really emphasised the emotion behind the suddenness of a cancellation. However, I never found out if there was a Japanese word to describe a person who would always dotakyan. I attempted referring to particularly flaky friends as dotakyanners, but it never caught on. When I lived in Japan, being cancelled on suddenly was a rare occurrence as most of my Japanese friends would stick to plans. I almost relished the first time a friend cancelled on me, as I finally got to use my new word when complaining to another friend.

I was careful with my complaints, however, as I didn't want to, in turn, be labelled as a "whinger" or a "whiner." To whinge or whine involves repeatedly complaining about something that, in the grand scheme of things, really isn't all that important. Or a whinger might constantly complain about something but never do anything to solve the problem.

A quality group of friends should be short on pikers and whingers. For me, a quality friend is like your favourite piece of clothing — when you put it on, it fits well and feels comfortable. It makes you feel confident and good about yourself. It keeps you cool when things get heated and warm when things get cold. When you're packing to go on holiday, it's one of the first things you think about bringing with you. What's a quality friend for you?



The Japan Times ST: August 16, 2013

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版