I was texting a friend earlier and I tried speaking Japanese with her (utterly failing) and she sent "ばーーーか". I understand that this word means "fool; stupid", but I'm confused about the usage of dashes.

P.S.: I'm not learning Japanese at the moment so I have no idea about the usage of dashes in the language, or the entirety of the Japanese language in general. She's a native speaker and I attempted to converse with her with my trusty translator. Should I see this statement as offensive or should I simply take it as a joke? And what do those dashes mean in the context of this text?

1 Answer 1


It's just used as a wide long-vowel marker. So instead of saying "fool", she kind of said "fooooool!". I'm afraid to say this, but it's almost certainly offensive.

People often replace the proper long vowel markers with two or more full-width dashes because the former has a more nuanced shape in some fonts. Dashes look better as a long continuous line (right).

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  • Ouch, alrighty. I should refrain from using a language I don't speak next time LOL. Thanks for the informative response!
    – Chris Yu
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 21:35
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    @naruto You never use ばか to mean "fool" in a friendly way then?? I'm really surprised by that. I'm sure I've heard it used like that lots of times. Or maybe we have different nuances for what 'offensive' means. Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 21:42
  • @user3856370 Of course it can be a friendly and joking response like "Oh, come on", depending on the context. But it looks unlikely to me that OP said some nice joke through machine translation...
    – naruto
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 21:55
  • @naruto I was thinking along the lines of "Your such an idiot. Nothing you write is making any sense". If I got that message from a friend I wouldn't find it offensive (by which I mean it wouldn't upset me), merely a light rebuke. Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 22:05
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    She texted "です" and I translated "I'm confused" into "よくわかりません", followed up by calling myself an uncultured swine. That's when she sent the "foooool" remark. She could've meant it as a joke, but I haven't gotten a text back so I probably lost my new friend lol.
    – Chris Yu
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 23:46

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