Japanese English

japanese-englishWelcome to our Japanese English page.

This page contains a growing list of resources regarding Japanese English; how Japanese English has influenced international English and how English is spoken in Japan.

Please leave any suggested links in the comments section.

Our blog posts on Japanese English

March – Japanese English month
Why March for Japan? Although you’ll only relate to this if you live north of the equator, March comes as a huge relief as the days get lighter and bleakness that is February subsides. I don’t know much about Japanese culture, it’s true, but it seems that in Japan there is a tradition of marking and observing changes in nature, and the Vernal Equinox in March is definitely one to mark.

Gairaigo: help or hindrance?
The popular press enjoy a good language panic. Here in Japan the loanword, or gairaigo, is trotted out on a regular basis as an example of all that is wrong with modern society. The targets of public ire are the usual suspects, too – young people and politicians.

Haiku competition
Our trip around the world in 80 Englishes continues and March is Japanese English month. So we’re all about spring and poetry! We have a haiku competition going and the winning haiku will be given pride of place on the macmillandictionary.com home page!

Is there such a thing as Japanese English?
The major use of English inside Japan is within the expatriate community, and there the language is the usual North-American/British/Australian/NZ/etc. according to the backgrounds of the individual. Sure when one speaks English in Japan one inevitably sprinkles it with Japanese words, but this does not in any way create another ‘English’. Saying onsen for a (Japanese) hot-spring, or shinkansen for a (Japanese) high-speed train is merely being precise.

Japanese English: Your stories …
In this post, we collect your thoughts and stories about English in Japan. Have you got similar stories to tell? Share it with us by posting a comment!

Katakanago and dictionaries
There are abundant loanwords in Japanese. They fill the gaps, sound fashionable, but are sometimes frowned upon. Those words surely make the Japanese language rich and colorful, but Japanese sometimes need to turn to dictionaries for help.

Paniku, guroi, asutoramu – English transformed
As they become part of Japanese, another way that English words change, often beyond recognition, is in their hybridization: as part of English-Japanese compound words, as words with Japanese verb, adjective or adverb endings, through abbreviation, or as a result of all of these together.

Japanese haragei
In Japan it’s not what you say; it’s also very much the way that you say it (or not) that matters. The Japanese prefer to trust haragei, which means “visceral, indirect, largely non-verbal communication.”

From sumo to sudoku
Japan is one of the most monolingual countries. As another poster on this blog recently argued, there is no established form of Japanese English, and this is because there is no pressing need to speak English. This may be one of the reasons why a lot of ‘English’ words you encounter in Japan are thinly disguised Japanese, but interestingly, Japanese speakers are not aware of this fact.

A cute gesture English teachers quickly learn in Japan is ‘Who me?’ Students make it by pointing to their nose when their teacher signals they should speak. And if teachers make the mistake of pointing to their chest to identify themselves, the class may think they’re referring to their T-shirt or blouse.

Pīman and suītsu – loanwords in Japanese
Yuka Masda discusses false friends in various forms of disguise.

Other links

English loan words in Japanese
As with most borrowings, Japanese borrowings are used to denote new concepts, but there is also a strong fashion influence. Japanese seizes on foreign words for creative purposes. European loan words, particularly English words, seem to bear some sort of cachet or prestige.

Other regional English pages

Scottish English
Irish English
Brazilian English
Chinese English
Russian English
South African English
American English
Indian English
Australian English
Spanish English
Mexican English
Canadian English

Email this Page Email this Page


Leave a Comment