Japanese Slang: Dotakyan (ドタキャン) Suru for Pulling out Last Minute?
When you are learning a foreign language, studying slang is a funny way to deepen your vocabulary. Not only will you speak more fluently but you will sound more like a native speaker. Moreover, slang gives you an interesting point of view on society.
If you have been to Japan and met with some Japanese friends, you might know by now how deeply they care to be on time. Indeed, one of the most important values of Japanese society is to respect others. Arriving on time or even better, early, is considered the polite thing to do when you meet with someone. Sadly, no one can always be one time, and sometimes even showing to the date might be impossible! What would you say the day you are stood up by a Japanese? Or what would you say if, at the last minute, you have to cancel a rendezvous with a friend?
Well, in Japanese slang, it would be “dotakyan (suru)“, 「ドタキャン(する）」, the meaning being “to cancel an appointment at the last minute”. This word is a construction between Japanese and English. The word “dotanba” means “last minute” in Japanese. It is joined with “kyan” short for the word “kyanseru” 「キャンセル」 made on the English “cancel“. Japanese slang words are often made by a combination of Japanese and English.
When you are the one canceling, you will use “dotakyan suru” but if you are the one who got stood up, you will use “dotakyan sareru” 「ドタキャンされる」.
Originally, this expression was a technical word used among those from the entertainment and travel industries. It became common to use it around the 1990’s and is now used by everyone. A quick search on the Internet shows many articles wondering about the reasons why someone would cancel at the last moment and how one should react!
Examples of usage
(1) A conversation with a friend
Woman 1：are? doshitano? nanika atta?
Woman 2：Chotto kiiteyo. Ashita deeto no yakusoku shitetanoni mata dotakyan sarechatta.
Woman 1 : Oh, what’s going on? Did something happen?
Woman 2 : Listen to this. I had a date tomorrow, but it got canceled at the last moment again!
(2) An email to a close colleague
Gomen, kyuu-na shigoto ga haitte, zangyo ni natteshimaimashita.
Kyoo no nomikai, zannen nagara ikemasen..
Dotakyan de hontoni sumimasen..
Email to co-worker
I’m sorry! An urgent job just came in, so I have to work overtime
It is really regrettable, but I will not be able to go to today’s drinking party.
I’m really sorry to cancel at the last moment!
(3) Simple apologies
Kinou ha dotakyan shite sumimasen deshita.
I am sorry that I canceled at the last minute yesterday.
Of course, you should always be careful to not do “dotakyan” to someone. Of course, canceling a meeting or a date at the last minute is badly seen everywhere, but in Japan, you are considered as extremely rude, and you should always cancel with your deepest apologies. Remember that this expression can be addressed only if you are canceling right before the time given. For example, you cannot use it in an apology to cancel tomorrow’s appointment.
Click this link to read about Japanese slang: jikochuu!