Wasei eigo - English in the Japanese language
Anna Baffa VolpeGet in touch with me
10 min reading time
Welcome back! 皆 さん、こんにちは！
Today we explore together a very interesting, intriguing and essential topic for those who study the Japanese language.
I am referring to the introduction into the Japanese language of terms from other foreign languages. Words, expressions, idioms taken from other languages integrated into 日本語.
外来語 、 借用語 loanwords
Each language uses terms and expressions taken from other foreign languages and the Japanese language is particularly rich in
loanwords, in Japanese 外来語 and 借用語.
The meaning is term coming from abroad, therefore
forestry, also expressed by the term 借用語, where 借 represents the verb 借りる
borrow and 用語 means
English words can be read and heard everywhere: in product names, brands, popular songs, in the world of fashion, cooking, sports and the media.
In the Japanese language loanwords from English are the most numerous, but they are not the only ones. We also find words from other languages such as French, German, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, Korean and Chinese.
Examples of 外来語
Here are some examples of loans and their language of origin.
オフィス ofisu from English office, the
エプロン epuron from the English apron, the
スキップ skippu from English skip,
カフェオレ cafeore from the French café au lait, the
カステラ kasutera from the Portuguese pão de Castella, the
アルバイト arubaito from the German arbeiten and in Japan it means
チンゲンサイ chingensai from Chinese,
In the menu of cafes in Japan, or in places in general where foods and drinks introduced in Japanese culinary culture are prepared and served, we find the various loans transcribed in katakana, like all foreign terms.
This image contains the word 献立, which you will usually find expressed as メニュ,
menu from English.
This habit is also valid for all other languages: the term of that object or concept exists, but we prefer to use the loan from foreign languages. The researchers identified
two categories of loans:
loans out of necessity, when that object or concept does not exist in your language and the loan fills that gap. Examples of this type in Japanese are the words jeans, computer, whiskey, mouse, kiwi
luxury loans, those terms for which the equivalent already exists in one's own language, but for cultural, fashion, trend issues, for a more effective communication it is preferred to use forestierism. Some examples: hotel, weekend, babysitter, _supermarket_
The外来語 are really numerous, from various languages and are also subject to change following the evolution of society, fashions and consumption.
Proceeding with the analysis of foreign terms in the Japanese language, we inevitably find many words and expressions that fall into what is called 和製英語.
和製英語 English Made in Japan
Let's analyze the kanji that form this expression.
wais the kanji of
peaceand indicates everything related to
Japanas 和風 in Japanese style, 和食 Japanese cuisine and 和菓子 sweets, Japanese desserts
製 fabricate, make,
made in ...
England英国 and the English language 英語
So it's a Japanese-style English, but what does that mean?
We refer to all those words, expressions, verbs or idioms that contain English terms, but which in their original language have no meaning or do not have the meaning that is attributed in Japan.
An English speaker understands individual words, but not always the true sense of the expression as it is used in the Japanese language.
職業 work, occupation
Let's take the word サラリーマン salaryman, in Japanese it means
white collar the person who lives on his salary. In English we find the terms office worker or company employee.
- フリーター freeter is short for free-alternative. Refers to young people between the ages of 15 and 34 in Japan who earn their living through part-time, contract, etc., other than regular full-time jobs. In English-speaking countries, they are often referred to as permanent part-timers.
mass media are the マスコミ masukomi.
Those who love Japanese TV and entertainment surely know the term
アイドル, aidoru, an idol that originally recalls the adoration of a deity, a religious figure, an object of faith. Today アイドル in Japanese culture indicates a or a
performer, it refers to a teenager who becomes very popular in the entertainment world. Generally they are boys between the ages of 14 and 20 who release music CDs, act in films and drama and achieve enormous success at home and often abroad.
電化製品 ・ゲーム appliances and games
ノートパソコン nōto pasokon short for note personal computer, the
テレビゲーム terebi gēmu, television game which is actually called
コンセント konsent in English is socket, outlet, the
電子 レンジ denshi renji microwave, the
microwave oven; 電子 indicates the electronics and レンジ is the stove for cooking
The term バイク bike is also` wasei eigo`. If you say bike, they think you're referring to the bicycle in English.
Instead in Japanese バイク is the
クーラー air conditioner: even the term クーラー cooler has no parallel in the English language with the meaning of
air conditioning. We can also use エアコン eakon, abbreviation of air conditioner or the two terms together エアコン・クーラー
rearview mirroris called バックミラー back mirror, actually the English term is rearview mirror
mufflerif we refer to the fashion accessory, the synonym is スカーフ, scarf and indicates the
scarf, but there is also the マフラーofthemotorcycle, the muffler
服 ・ 衣類 clothes, clothing
トレーナー trainer is the sweat shirt, the
チャック chakku is the
ワンピース wan piisu is the
English first appeared at the end of the sakoku 鎖国, when Japan reopened the doors to the outside world with the Meijiera.
It was at that stage when many Japanese companies started promoting their products using words or phrases from English that had a certain effect and resonance on the public.
the word used to indicate the
staplerwas ホチキス or ホッチキス, Hochikisu derives from Hotchkiss, an American company that produced sewing machines and also exported to Japan in a period in which did not have a specific name for the product. The first stapler was in fact introduced in Japan in 1903.
ステープラー sutēpurā is the loan from English stapler
お 菓子 sweets
cream puff is translated into English cream puff. The word used in Japanese is an adaptation from the French: chou à la crème.
Here is another word アイスキャンデー ice candy literally the ice candy, the
popsicle which in English is called icy pole or ice lolly.
デコレーションケーキ decoration cake, in English it is found as fancy cake, the
ソフトクリーム soft cream is the
gelatothat is the serve cream in English
アイスコーヒー ice coffee is the
iced coffee, in English iced coffee or cold brew coffee
Among the プラスティック 製品, the
plastic objects we find the:
- ビニール 袋 biniiru bukuro the
plastic bag, plastic bag translated instead as vinyl bag
SSN social media
This acronym is also part of the waseieigo:
Social Networking Service and refers to all the
social media we know including:
インスタグラム Instagram, abbreviated インスタ Insta
マナーモード manner mode is the Japanese term for the
silent modeof the mobile phone, in English silent mode
I want to develop my career.
Our company needs to improve the image.
I asked reception for wake up service.
There are many examples. We learn the terms and their use in the course of our study and deepening of this wonderful language. ステップ - バイ - ステップ!
I inserted a video of the channel "すなお7時間目の英語" whose introductory presentation is:
They don't teach you at school !? English content explained in a simple way!
In this video the teacher discusses 25 terms of
wasei eigo, reporting the words in Katakana and the English translations. 聞 いてみましょう！