I’d like some salad.. I mean “salada”! (20 Japanese English)

I'd like some salad.. I mean “salada”! (20 Japanese English)

As a Japanese who is learning English, I have confronted many situations where my English didn’t make sense at all to native speakers. That’s because there are many English words in Japanese language, written in Katakana alphabet. Those English words don’t usually have the same meaning in Japanese. We call them, Wasei Eigo (which means Japanese English). When you come to Japan, you should be aware of the difference in the meaning of certain Japanese English words. Even if you are familiar with their meanings in English, you might be saying completely different thing in Japanese. It’s also important to pronounce the words with Japanese pronunciation, in order for you to be better understood by Japanese. I will show you 20 Japanese English words in this article and how to use them and pronounce them correctly.



 

I’d like some salad.. I mean “salada”! (20 Japanese English)

 

1. Salad

In Japanese, we call salad the same way as you do. When you say, however, “I want some salad” in Japan, people might not understand what you want right away. After some time of reflection, they would say, “Ah, salada!” Yes, we pronounce it “salada” in Japanese. This word actually comes from Portuguese, “salada.” That’s why we don’t pronounce “salad.”

 

2. Claim

In English, the word “claim” means to assert that something is the case. You would say, “I claim that this property is mine.” Therefore, you might find it strange that how we use the word “claim” in Japanese. You hear a lot, “claim (ku-ree-mu) wo tsukeru,” which means “I claim” in Japanese, in restaurants or in stores. That’s because, “I claim” means “I make a complaint” in Japanese. When you are not satisfied with a service in stores or restaurants, you can say, “claim wo tsukeru.” Don’t forget to pronounce this word in Japanese pronunciation.

 

3. Mansion

If you say that you live in a mansion in English, you live in a huge house that rich people usually have. When we say that we live in a “mansion (man-shon)” in Japanese, it doesn’t quite mean the same thing. In fact, the word “mansion” means an apartment housing. Even though a “mansion” is a luxury apartment, don’t expect that you will be invited to a huge house with a big garden when a Japanese friend invites you to their “mansion.”

 

4. My pace

It sounds very strange in English. You usually say, “I walk at my own pace,” but rarely “my pace.” Yet you hear this word a lot in Japan. You might have heard your Japanese friend saying “you are my pace (mai-peisu).” The word “my pace” doesn’t make sense to you because it’s a Japanese English. It’s employed to describe someone who does everything at his/her own pace. In general, someone who is “my pace” has quiet and kind personality. It might also mean negatively that this person is slow in a situation where he/she should hustle.

 

5. Idol

In English, an “idol” is someone who is admired greatly or worshiped even. In most cases, it refers to representations of gods. In Japanese, the word “idol (ai-do-ru)” also refers to people we admire but in a very specific way. In fact, “idols” are mostly pop stars who are very popular and have many followers. “Idols” are usually a group of young girls in pretty, young-looking clothes, whom many Japanese men fantasize about. There are also male “idols” who are good-looking boys, who sing love songs.

 

6. Image down, image up

When you hear the words “image down,” you must think of a certain image (a painting or a picture) is going downwards or is taking off. In Japanese, however, it doesn’t have to do with any concrete image at all. In fact, the word “image down” has a metaphorical meaning. It means that something has damaged one’s reputation. If one of a company’s employee is arrested for fraud, for example, it damages the company’s reputation – “image down (imee-ji-da-u-n) suru.” The opposite word is “image up (imee-ji-appu),” which means to gain a good reputation. If you are kind to a girl you like, you can “image up” toward her – she will have favourable image of you.

 

7. Snack

In English, you use the word “snack” for a light meal between big meals. When you hear “I will go to a snack (bar),” you must imagine that I will have some hot dogs or sandwiches. I am sure that I am not having any snacks there. When we go to a “snack (su-na-kku)” in Japan, we usually go have some drinks served by pretty women. It’s actually a place where men have drinks with a company of women.

 

8. Style

If someone told you that you have a good “style,” that usually means you have a good taste in clothes. When we say “style (su-ta-i-ru) ga ii ne,” that also means you have a good style, it has nothing to do with how you wear your clothes. In Japanese, “style” means having a good figure. When your Japanese friend tells you that you have a good style, he/she isn’t complimenting your clothes.

 

9. Smart

It’s another very confusing Japanese English word. In English, the word “smart” means intelligent. In Japanese, on the other hand, when we say, “you are smart,” it actually means you are skinny. How confusing is that! In fact, the word “smart (su-maa-to)” is employed as an adverb, like “do something smartly.” That means that doing thing efficiently and quickly.

 

10. Talent

In English, the word “talent” refers to natural aptitude or skills. You would say, “she got a talent.” In Japanese, however, the word “talent (ta-ren-to)” means people who are on TV. In most cases, they are on TV because they are talented. But there are people who don’t have any special talent, yet we call them a “talent” anyway.

 

 

11. Front

What would you do if your Japanese friend asks you to meet at the “front” of hotel? I am sure you will wait for him/her in front of hotel. You will be waiting for hours, because, in Japanese, “front (fu-ron-to)” actually means hotel reception.

 

12. Make

Have you ever heard of Japanese girls say, “make (me-i-ku) suru”? It literally means, “do make.” I am sure it doesn’t make sense to most of you. It’s because, in Japanese, “make” is a short term for “make-up.” Therefore “make suru” means “apply make-up.”

 

13. Air conditioner

As you can see, Japanese people love shortening words. It’s easier to say and sounds way cooler. It’s not surprising that we don’t say “air conditioner.” It’s just too long! Instead, we call it, “air con (e-a-con).”

 

14. Rough

What comes to your mind when your Japanese friend tells you “Today, you are wearing “rough (ra-fu)” clothes”? You must think that the material of the clothes that you are wearing are not smoothes. Surprisingly, your Japanese friend wanted to say that “you are wearing “casual” clothes. So if your friend asks you to wear something “rough,” you know you should wear casual, everyday clothes instead of formal suits.

 

15. Trainer

A “trainer” is someone who trains people or animals. We also use this word for people who trains. On the other hand, we sometimes use this word in a sentence like, “I am wearing a “trainer (to-ree-naa).” In fact, a “trainer” also means a sweat shirt.

 

16. Pants

It’s a very confusing word, even in English. In American English, the word “pants” means “trousers.” In British English, on the other hand, it means “underwear.” In Japanese, we sometimes use the word “pants (pan-tsu)” as trousers nowadays, but it mostly refers to underwear. We also have a word such as, “short pants” which means shorts in English. To avoid any confusion, it’s better to call trousers “zu-bon” (which comes from the French word “jupon”) and use the word “pants” for underwear.

 

17. Free size

When you ask for a size of clothes in Japan, you will find that some clothes are “free size.” Although it doesn’t make sense at all in English, “free size (fu-ree-sai-zu)” actually means one size fits all, in Japanese. That means the clothes are designed to fits many body types.

 

18. Veteran

In English, the word “veteran” refers to people who once served in the military. When we say “he is a veteran (be-te-ran)” in Japanese, it doesn’t mean that he was in a military before. The word “veteran” means that someone who has long experience in one specific field. When you meet someone who is good at his job and has a long experience in a field, you can call him/her, “a veteran.”

 

19. Viking

Have you ever heard that “there is a “Viking” at this hotel” in Japan? It doesn’t mean that there is literally a Viking in that hotel. In fact, the word “Viking (bai-kin-gu)” means a “buffet” in Japanese. Why do we call a “buffet” as “Viking” which has nothing to do with the former? It was actually named after a Swedish cuisine called “smorgasbord” which was a buffet styled meal. Because it was very difficult for Japanese to pronounce this name, one famous chef has used the name “Viking” instead.

 

20. Shortcut

The word “shortcut” means, in English, a shorter alternative route. In Japanese, however, it means that “short hair.” We usually use this word in a sentence like, “shortcut (shoo-to-ka-tto) ga kawaii,” which means “short hair looks great on you.” You can also ask a hair dresser, “short-cut ni shite kudasai,” which means “please cut my hair short.”

 

Conclusion

I hope you have better understanding of some of Japanese English words that are used by many people in Japan. There are many other strange Japanese English words in Japanese language. It would be a fun experience to compare the meaning with your own language.

 

I’d like some salad.. I mean “salada”! (20 Japanese English)

1. Salad
2. Claim
3. Mansion
4. My pace
5. Idol
6. Image down, image up
7. Snack
8. Style
9. Smart
10. Talent
11. Front
12. Make
13. Air conditioner
14. Rough
15. Trainer
16. Pants
17. Free size
18. Veteran
19. Viking
20. Shortcut