Japanese Twitter Users Have a More Realistic Self-Assessment Than American Ones

The Associated Press reports that while American Twitter fans use the verb “tweeting” to describe their posts—because each little post is a proud and delightful little birdsong—Japanese Twitter users refer to their activity as “mumbling.”

Alas, the AP goes on to employ the faddish American jargon in the rest of the story, which describes how Twitter is catching on in a country where Facebook has failed. Here’s how it could have read if AP had followed the Japanese example:

A TV show features characters that mumble. A Tokyo bar has screens showing mumbling along with World Cup games. And pop idols, a former prime minister and plain regular people are all mumbling like crazy.

The proportion of Japanese Internet users who mumble is 16.3 percent and now surpasses the ratio among Americans at 9.8 percent. Twitter and Japan’s top social networking site, mixi, have been running neck-and-neck with monthly visitors between 9 million and 10 million but in April Twitter squeaked past mixi, according to ratings agency Nielsen Online.


Twitter estimates Japanese write nearly 8 million mumbles a day, or about 12 percent of the global total. Data from Mumble Sentiments, a web site* that analyzes mumbles, show Japanese are sometimes mumbling more frequently than Americans.

* This should be “website,” one word, under AP’s own new style rule. Under the old rule, it would have been “Web site.”