When the regular student is hearing a lecture he needs to write the lecturer's words very fast. So many of them are shortening the words (like smb.) and sentences but after the lecture they can still understand what they have written (usually).

Is it possible to shorten Japanese words or there are another ways to write complicated symbols fast?

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    Shorthand exists in Japanese. The only one I remember is a very, very small circle (maru). It's shorthand for "komaru". Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 14:46
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    See also: 略字【りゃくじ】.
    – senshin
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 15:43
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    So many of them are shortening the words (like smb.) What is "smb"?
    – istrasci
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 16:33
  • @istrasci "smb" means "somebody".
    – optim1st
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 17:15
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    Japanese abbreviate just about everything in popular culture. Not sure if this will help you in a lecture though. Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 18:33

1 Answer 1


行書 & 草書 (semi-cursive and cursive writings)

行書【ぎょうしょ】 (semi-cursive script) is similar to English 'handwriting' style, and this is the most orthodox way of writing Japanese sentences fast. This is what Japanese students learn at middle school, although that does not necessarily mean all students master beautiful 行書. You can compare 楷書【かいしょ】 (regular style) and 行書 in this page.

草書【そうしょ】 (cursive script) refers to more aggressively abbreviated kanji/kana. Ordinary Japanese people do not know how to write these, and have difficulty reading 草書.

略字 (abbreviated character)

While 行書 and 草書 are standardized and sophisticated, people often simplify kanji in non-standard ways. You can see the two best-known examples here. To take an extreme example, 慶応【けいおう】 is sometimes written like this using English alphabets. Although being useful, these types of 略字 are generally frowned upon in formal situations, and I prefer to use 行書 whenever possible.

略語 (abbreviated words)

Similar to English acronyms. For example, 国際連合 (Unitated Nations) is shortened into 国連【こくれん】, 高等学校 (high school) is shortened into 高校【こうこう】, リモートコントローラー (remote controller) is shortened into リモコン, etc. Coining a new 略語 is not what people do very often.

In Japanese, you can't shorten long words by piking their consonants (i.e. somebody => smb, statement => stmt, ... is there a name for this?). But because kanji are ideographic characters, many things can be expressed using only one or two kanji. "Somebody" can be written as simply as "人" in a grammar textbook, etc.

速記 (shorthand)

There is a Japanese version of shorthand, which allows us to write Japanese as quickly as people speak Japanese. Of course this is definitely for those who are professionally trained. Example.

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    Do you mean (colloquially) people write 人 and read だれか?
    – jogloran
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 22:17
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    I was thinking of "sb/人" as a placeholder, which may be read as either ひと or だれだれ. I don't mean 人 can be always read as だれか even in a normal sentence.
    – naruto
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 1:58
  • ノート取るときとかは漢字で書くべきところをカタカナで済ますことはかなり多い気がします(このクカンでセキブン,とか).更にそこから文字を抜き出して,セキブン→「せ」とかも回数が多い時はやりますね.特定の単語だけ英語から略語を拝借したりということも.
    – Yosh
    Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 2:01

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