GET Staff Blog

June 6, 2016

Getting confused by Japanglish   〜和製英語=ジャパングリッシュによる困惑〜


You have a mansion?? Really?! Wow! I’d love to see it.

マンション持ってるんですか?! すごい! ぜひ見に行きたいです。


The first time Keiko told me she lived in a mansion, I was really impressed. A mansion?? Here in Japan?? In Tokyo?? Where did they find the space? She must be rich! I asked her if I could see it but she thought that was really strange. I didn’t understand why. After a few awkward seconds I changed the subject. A few weeks later I realized that a mansion in Canada and a mansion in Japan are two very different things.

ケイコがマンションに住んでいると最初に聞いたとき、とっても感心しました。 マンションに?!日本で??しかも東京で??どこにそんなスペースがあるんだろう?彼女、すごい金持ちに違いない!


This is what I think a mansion is…


A home suitable for a king and queen.


This is what a mansion in Japan is….


Nice but not quite worthy of the name ‘mansion.’I'd call it a condo(condominium), or an apartment.


This is just one confusing example of Japanglish which is English words used in Japanese but that have completely different meanings.


Countries all over the world have borrowed English words in their language, such as Konglish in Korea, and Singlish in Singapore.


Today let’s take a look at a few more interesting Japanglish examples.





◇VIKING  (バイキング)

When I think of the word “Viking”, I think of large, Scandinavian, sword carrying men in wooden ships.


I certainly don’t think of a delicious meal filled with more dishes than I could ask for. A “Viking” in Japan is called an “all-you-can-eat” or “buffet” in English. In my hometown of Toronto, Canada, there are many all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurants which serve sushi, tempura, beef-don, soba, and other Japanese dishes. There’s no time-limit either!

決して、必要以上に山盛りにされたお料理が並ぶ、おいしい食事のことは思い出しません。 日本で言う「バイキング」は、英語では「all-you-can-eat(食べ放題)」や「buffet(ビュッフェ)」といいます。私の地元、カナダのトロントでは、日本食の食べ放題がたくさんあり、寿司や天麩羅、牛丼や蕎麦などの日本食が楽しめます。時間制限もありません!




◇YANKII / YANKEE   (ヤンキー)

I’m sure we all knew some ‘yankees’ when we were in school. Maybe you were even a yankee yourself! But ‘yankee’ has a very different meaning in North America. It simply means to be an American, and specifically someone from a northern state, like New York or Vermont. All baseball fans must know the New York Yankees.


The type of child you would call a ‘yankee’, I’d call a ‘brat’ or ‘troublemaker’.


Ex. My cousin was a big troublemaker when he was in middle school.




◇CUNNING   (カンニング)

I first heard this word from children I was teaching English to. “Teacher, teacher! He’s cunning!” I was really impressed with that student and his advanced vocabulary. I soon realized that ‘cunning’ in Japanglish actually means ‘cheating’ or ‘to cheat’.

この単語は、英語を教えていた子どもたちから「先生、先生!あの子カンニング(ずる賢い)です!」と聞いたのが最初でした。私はその生徒の上級並の語彙力に感心しました。そして、日本で「カンニング」は「cheating/to cheat(不正・不正(カンニング)する)」の意味だと言うことにすぐに気づきました。

For example: She failed the class because she was caught cheating on the final exam.


From the wonderful learning resource, the adjective ‘cunning’ means: getting what is wanted in a clever and often sneaky way


・ a cunning criminal (卑劣な犯罪者)

・She was cunning enough to fool me. (彼女は私をだますには十分に狡猾だった)

・a cunning plan (悪賢い計画)



◇CLAIM   (クレーム)

The word ‘claim’ in Japanglish means ‘to complain (verb)’ or ‘have a complaint (noun)’ in English.

日本で使われる「クレーム」は、英語で「to complain(不平・不満を言う)」という動詞、もしくは「have a complaint(苦情・文句がある)」という名詞です。

For example: He complained to the waiter because the soup was cold. The waiter got him a new soup.




◇JET COASTER (ジェットコースター)

What is called a ‘jet coaster’ in Japanese is called a ‘roller coaster’ in English.


For example: Let’s try the new roller coaster at Fuji-Q!





◇FRIED POTATO   (フライドポテト)

‘Fried potato’ in Japanglish is called ‘french fries’ in North America and ‘chips’ in the UK. You’ve heard of fish n chips right?!





◇IMAGE UP / SKILL UP / CAREER UP  (イメージアップ・スキルアップ・キャリアアップ)

These three Japanglish phrases mean ‘to improve your image / skill / career’ in English.


For example: I want to improve my English skill, so I’m going to study at Tokyo GET in Takadanobaba. They’re the best!  








Key Phrase

◇Mansion       大邸宅、屋敷

◇Apartment      アパート

◇Condo, Condominium コンド、(日本で言う)マンション

◇Viking        バイキング(海賊)

◇All-you-can-eat    食べ放題

◇Buffet        食べ放題(ビュッフェ)

◇Yankee       米国人、アメリカ人

◇Cunning       ずる賢い、狡猾な

◇Cheating       カンニングする、不正、浮気

◇Claim        主張する、求める

◇Complain      文句を言う、クレームする

◇Roller coaster    ジェットコースター

◇Friench fries     フライドポテト

◇Improve one's skill  スキルアップ



Have you ever been confused between Japanglish and English? Do you know anymore Japanglish examples?? Have any requests for something you’d like to know more about? Please share them in the comments section! We’d love to hear from you.




Thanks for reading and see you next time.




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