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It's Not Bokista! - by Tomato

It's Not Bokista!

Do you remember when you first played EarthBound? Did you ever wonder what that voice said when you're naming the characters? I'm sure you did. It seemed like nobody knew what it was saying. One person I knew thought it said "spatula".

One thing was certain: nobody agreed on what it said. Until a few months ago. Somehow word got out that the voice was that of Shigesato Itoi, creator of EarthBound, saying "bokista". Supposedly "bokista" meant "mother" in Japan. "Bokista-mania" swept the EarthBound community and it seemed this mystery had been solved.

It hadn't. And what really annoys me is that nobody bothered to question it. So now I will shed light on the truth of this long-debated EarthBound issue.

One thing *was* true; the voice was that of Shigesato Itoi. But he wasn't saying "Bokista", he was saying "OK desu ka". What does that mean? Literally translated, it means "Is it OK?" More colloquially, it means something like "OK, got it."

How do I know this? I have studied Japanese for over three years. I learned the sentence structure of "OK desu ka" in the first 20 minutes of those three years. If you'd like to verify what this sentence means, there are many Japanese language tutorials out there on the web. Here is one that I found.

While we're on the subject, let's look more closely at the sentence structure of "OK desu ka".

"OK" means "OK". That's easy enough to translate. "desu" means "is" in this sentence. It will most likely be the first thing you learn if you ever decide to learn Japanese. "ka" at the end makes the sentece a question.

Put them all together, and you get "Is it OK?". This seems to make sense too, much more than "bokista" would.

Let's now look at how this is pronounced. Since it is spoken by a native Japanese, it might not be obvious what he is saying. That is one of the reasons why this topic has been debated for so long. Japanese speakers tend to drop off syllables when speaking rapidly, just as we do. For instance, in English, if we want to say the word "doesn't", we can say something like "dun" to get the same result: "It hurts, dun it?"

In the sentence "OK desu ka", there are 2 such contractions. When spoken rapidly, the "de" is almost silent, but it is there if you know what to listen for. "Desu", when spoken rapidly, is pronounced "Des". Since the "de" is silent, the end result is the hissing sound of the letter "s".

Putting all of these syllables together, we get "OK ska". Listen to the voice again. You'll realize this is exactly what it's saying.

Click here to listen for yourself.

This is all nice in theory, you're saying. I could just be some nut who knows a little bit of Japanese. So I now point your attention to another piece of evidence.

There is nothing in there about Shigesato Itoi saying "bokista", but he is credited for saying "OK?".

Let's now talk about "bokista". In the Japanese language, this word cannot exist. Therefore this is most likely a contraction of a real Japanese word. Here is a list of some possible contractions:


Of these five, "Bokishita" and "Bokisuta" are most likely. These are not words either, so they are most likely conjugations of a verb. Looking in several Japanese dictionaries, the closest match (which is *very* close) is the verb "bokki suru". The translation of this verb isn't suitable for some visitors to this site, therefore I will just skip it. If you conjugate this to the past (and informal) tense, you'll get "bokki shita". Pretty close! This again means something very inappropriate for some people. So the next time you decide to say "bokista", think about what you're saying.

Now that you know the truth, please tell other EB fans. And if you have the word "bokista" anywhere on your EB site, take it down! I can't stand to see that word anymore; it symbolizes the naivity that we, the EarthBound community, still have yet to conquer. PERFECT 10! The score will say 1.10, but it's actually 10.

Other Submissions by Tomato

Author Sort Ascending Sort Descending Title Sort Ascending Sort Descending Description Sort Ascending Sort Descending Date Sort Ascending Sort Descending Rank Sort Ascending Sort Descending
Tomato A Debug Menu?
7/31/06 0.00
Tomato Check-a-roony!
Japanese Banner for the old site.
5/14/05 0.00
Tomato Close-Up on EB Stuff
Mother 1+2 poster, EarthBound box, guide, cart, coupon, and scratch and sniff cards (not shown; they're in the guide), EarthBound keychains (in front of the EB box), Mr. Saturn figurine made by Meeellla, Mother 1+2 GBA box and cart, 2 Starmen.Net mugz0rz, Mother and Mother 2 (two copies) novels, four Mother 2 mangas, and a bunch of Rock Candy CDs.
11/14/06 0.00
Tomato Close-Up on Mother 3 Stuff
Mother 3 deluxe box (game, M3 GBA micro, Franklin Badge), Mother 3 box and cartridge, four different Mother 3 game guides, Mother 3+ CD, Ninja Saturn Strap, and the Nintendo Dream with Mr. Saturn on the cover.
11/14/06 10.00
Tomato EarthBound Cat
My cat is a big EB fan. Actually, I think I got him the same summer I got EB.
11/14/06 9.00


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