Extras Suffixes

I am snowed under with Leviathan, but there’s something on Wikipedia I’ve been meaning to show you guys.

Everyone always asks me about -wa and -la in the Uglies series. (The rule, by the way, is that you use -wa if you have an L in your name, and -la otherwise. So it’s Jane-la, Jose-la, and Maria-la, but Billy-wa.) Part of what inspired me to add these suffixes was my study of Japanese, which uses a complicated set of “honorifics.” These suffixes reveal how intimate you are with someone, how respected or famous they are, etc., so it made sense to put them in Extras.

Japanese honorifics are incredibly complicated (to us outsiders, anyway). So I kept it to just three: sama, chan, and sensei. Here’s how those suffixes work in Extras as opposed to modern-day Japanese:

In Aya’s world, sensei is used for anyone in the city’s top thousand most famous citizen.

But in Japanese (to quote this Wikipedia article):

Sensei is used to refer to or address teachers, practitioners of a profession such as doctors and lawyers, politicians, and other authority figures. It is used to show respect to someone who has achieved a certain level of mastery in an art form or some other skill. For example, Japanese manga fans refer to manga artists using the term sensei, as in Takahashi-sensei for manga artist Rumiko Takahashi; the term is used similarly by fans of other creative professionals such as novelists, musicians, and artists. It is also a common martial arts title when referring to the instructor.

In Aya’s city, sama is for people who are world famous—someone who comes up in your mind-rain history class, like Tally and Shay. In Japan . . .

Sama is the formal version of san. This honorific is used primarily in addressing persons much higher in rank than oneself and in commercial and business settings to address and refer to customers. It also appears in words used to address or speak of persons or objects for which the speaker wishes to show respect or deference, such as okyaku-sama (customer) or Tateishi-sama (a stone idolised as a deity). Additionally, Japanese Christians will refer to God in prayer as Kami-sama and Jesus as Iesu-sama. -sama is regularly used by the press to mention female members of the Imperial Family (as in Masako-sama). People will also affix sama to the names of personages who have a special talent or are considered particularly attractive, though this usage can also be tongue-in-cheek, exaggerated, or even ironic.

And finally, chan is for close friends and siblings (particularly if they’re younger), and cute devices like Moggle. This is pretty much the way it’s used nowadays, though there are more gender issues in present-day Japan than in Aya’s city. Here’s the full definition from Wikipedia:

Chan is an informal version of san used to address children and female family members. It may also be used towards animals, lovers, intimate friends, and people whom one has known since childhood. Chan continues to be used as a term of endearment, especially for girls, into adulthood. Parents will probably always call their daughters chan and their sons kun, though chan can be used towards boys just as easily. Adults may use chan as a term of endearment to women with whom they are on close terms . . . . ‘Pet names’ are often made by attaching chan to a truncated stem of a name. This implies even greater intimacy than simply attaching it to the full name. So for example, a pet rabbit (usagi) might be called usa-chan rather than usagi-chan. Similarly, Chan is sometimes used to form pet names for celebrities. For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger gained the nickname Shuwa chan in Japanese.

Terminator-chan. Hmm.

Other than -wa and -la, do you guys use any weird forms of address with your friends?

2,290 thoughts on “Extras Suffixes

  1. This is the real Scott, with the special blue square and everything, writing because you may notice many, many comments suddenly deleted from this thread.

    I have nuked Brian! How annoying, but he’s banned now.

    Maybe he’ll appear in some other guise (or from some other IP address), but for the moment the world is free.

    Enjoy, and thanks to those of you who gave me a headsup.

  2. YaY!!!! Real Scott! HeHe, no more creepy Brian. Dude, seriously, Meghan-la and Ivan-la your kinda starting to scare me. And what up Ivan? Finally a guy that’s not all super creepy and psychopath like. I’m like dying of boredom now, sheesh.

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