Monday, January 21, 2013

Wasei Eigo – Japanese English

I love these words.

Studying katakana is usually interesting for foreigners. It is enjoyable to decipher the English words turned into Japanese. Sarari-man, salaryman means white-collar worker, and OL means office lady. Wai-shatsu comes from white shirt, though now it means a dress shirt of any colour. And amefuto is – obviously? – American football. Anison is an anime song. Even anime means animation, and now it means “Japanese animation.” Running shirt? It’s a T-shirt. Furontogarasu, front glass? It can be but the windscreen. Rimokon? Remo(te) con(trol). Bebi-ka-, baby car means pushchair or pram. UMA was coined to resemble UFO, and it means Unidentified Mysterious Animal. There is an English word for that, in fact: cryptid.
There is a word for the English words coined in Japan: wasei-eigo. These words are used in the conversation in Japanese. Nothing laughable about it, they are in fact so cute. Words are alive and changing all the time in various places on earth.
This is a photo taken in the subway. First of all, I love that many people are reading while commuting, in Japan. You can see it in the background of the photo. And I like the humour and self-irony of the ad: it is written nihonjin no henna eigo – the weird English of the Japanese. With an example: the lady above says “I like street walking.” Lovely. And by the way, people are fit and can walk long distances in Japan.

( ^ _ ^ )



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