The most specific anecdote about the origin of the word "cosplay" was that Nov Takahashi (from a Japanese studio called Studio Hard) coined the term "cosplay" as a contraction of the English-language words "costume play" while attending the 1984 Los Angeles Science Fiction Worldcon. He was so impressed by the hall and masquerade costuming there that he reported about it frequently in Japanese science fiction magazines. This point is debatable, however, as the word fits in with a common Japanese method of abbreviation: combining the first two moras of each word. Both "cos" and "play" are long syllables, counting for two moras each.

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