「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


Staying in fashion

By Samantha Loong


I've never been a particularly fashionable person. When Japanese school children walk past me on their way to kindergarten, they look at what I'm wearing with disdain. But I treat fashion like how I treat language. I want whatever's comfortable, does the job and suits the occasion.

Language has its own trends. I frustrated friends in the early 2000s when, in order to maximise the 160 characters allowed in a single text message, I would join words together with numbers and symbols. Vowels disappeared when I thought they were unnecessary. Acronyms and abbreviations flourished in every one of my messages. "Your" became "ur" and "by the way" became "BTW"-- not to be confused with "btw," which for me meant "between." Unfortunately, what I thought were beautiful, cleverly crafted messages, friends thought were hieroglyphics. So I had to resort to writing in full sentences.

However, it turns out that I was merely ahead of my time. Fast forward several years and it's now rappers, successful start-up companies and some of those same friends dropping vowels and using acronyms and abbreviations. In fact, most people are very "on trend," using language like "LOL" (laughing out loud), "rly" (really), "amirite?" (am I right?) and "totes" (totally). I'm personally a fan of just saying "Haha!" instead of describing that I'm "laughing out loud." Being neither cool nor young, I feel like a fraud using language I associate with cool, young people. You can also be sure that cool, young people most definitely do not use the word "nor."

Like clothing, there are also some words that are considered old-fashioned, and even controversial. In the same way wearing a real fur coat these days would only encourage people to throw things at me, there's also certain language that I avoid. "Whom," for example, is very stuffy and archaic. Using it -- or worse, arguing over how to use it -- will also likely get you pelted with eggs.

Out of curiosity, I started watching a regular weekly series on fashion trends in the U.K. Towards the end of winter, I learned about "the new double collar." This is basically a high-neck sweater worn under a top with a scooped-neck collar -- something I've been doing most of my life. This leads me to the conclusion that perhaps I'm actually not unfashionable. I'm just incredibly ahead of fashion trends. By about 11 years.

Thinking too much about trends, whether they're for clothes or for language, could do your head in. Whatever fashion or language trend you decide to follow or not, there'll be times when you don't feel comfortable, or when people laugh at your choices. Just know that whatever you decide, at least you'll never be naked.



The Japan Times ST: April 25, 2014

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




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