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Street Japanese 01- Dotakyan

Hey there you good-looking Learn Japanese Podders and welcome to my Street Japanese series of videos. I made these videos to teach natural Japanese as it is really spoken on the streets in Japan. Each video in the series links to the next one in order to create a long conversation so be sure to watch all the videos. You can also download PDF shownotes, an mp3 of the video and read about the grammar and culture featured in the videos.

Be sure to check back every Wednesday when we put up a new video. Enjoy!

Watch the other Street Japanese Videos 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05

Listen to just the audio

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In this video we look at the phrase ドタキャン dotakyan which means to suddenly cancel going to a meeting. Here’s the dialog as we did it in the video.
A) ヨシコ、ひどいよー
B) え?なんで?どうしたの?
A) この間、ドタキャンしたじゃない?
B) あ、ごめん。これからは絶対しないから
A) 本当に?!

A) yoshiko, hidoi yo
B) e? nande?
A) kono aida dotakyan shita ja nai?
A) a, gomen. kore kara zetai shinai kara
B) hontō ni?

A) You’re terrible Yoshiko
B) Eh? Why? What’s the matter?
A) The other day you cancelled on me at the last minute!
B) Ah, sorry. I’ll absolutely never do that again!
A) Really?

Now here’s a little history for you…

Dotakyan comes from 土壇場キャンセル dotanba kyanseru – Last moment cancel. Japanese love to shorten long phrases so “dotanba kyanseru” changes to dotakyan.

But, where does 土壇場 come from?

During the Edo period, executions were carried out by stretching out the guilty horizontally on a small mound of earth. Then they would be decapitated by sword. That mound of earth was a 土壇場 dotanba. 土 do is earth, 壇 tan means a mound and 場 ba means place. During the Edo period 土壇場 came to mean “the place of execution”.

In modern use, 土壇場 dotanba means at the last moment, or at 11th hour. This probably comes from the idea that an execution is the very last minute of life.

There, I bet you didn’t know that AND it’s used all the time. So, try that out on your Japanese friends to amaze and amuse them.

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