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I've seen discussions of placeholders in Japanese which seem to centre on how to pronounce written placeholders like OO, XX, etc. See below for reference:

But what about an example of a placeholder used in natural speech (i.e. not reading text)? In English, an example might be somebody saying "Look over there at whats-his-name". In Japanese, it would seem strange (to me) to use だれだれ in such a real-time spoken example, like あそこにいるだれだれを見て。What word might replace it? Are there such equivalents to the English words like 'whats-his-name"?

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Symbol-specific readings such as まるまる or ばつばつ don't work in speech, but other readings (なんとか, なになに, だれだれ, ほにゃらら, ピー) do work in speech to intentionally hide the actual name or to explain some grammar rule. See my previous answer for the list. 誰かさん is another common placeholder used mainly as part of a joke or innuendo.

誰かさんのせいで失敗した。
It was a failure because of you-know-who.

However, these rarely work when you're trying to remember the name of someone/something. In such situations, we say 例のあれ, あれ, 例のあの人, あの人, etc.

  • あそこにいる、例のあの人、見てよ、誰だっけ、ほら。
  • アレ持ってきて。アレだよアレ。何だっけ、例のアレ。名前忘れた。
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  • Thanks, great answer! I love ほにゃらら. – kandyman Sep 29 at 8:48

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