Wasei-eigo

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The term Wasei-eigo (和製英語?, Japanese-made English, English words coined in Japan) is used in Japanese to refer to Japanese expressions which superficially appear to come from English, but in fact do not. This may refer to words whose form is different (for example panerā (パネラー?), or "paneller" for "panellist"), truncated (for example panku (パンク?) for "puncture") or expressions where the grammar is Japanese (for example reberu appu (レベルアップ level up?) means "raise a level", the preposition being interpreted as a verb qualifying its preceding object, in line with Japanese word order). In other cases, a word may simply have gained a (slightly) different meaning: thus kanningu (カンニング?) means not "cunning", but "cheating." Usage of the term is fluid, and there are many borderline cases listed in dictionaries of wasei-eigo which are arguably not in error at all.

Wasei-eigo is distinct from Engrish, as it consists of words used in Japanese conversation — not an attempt at speaking English.[1] These include acronyms and initialisms particular to Japan (see list of Japanese Latin alphabetic abbreviations). Wasei-eigo can be compared to wasei kango (和製漢語?, Japanese-created kango (Chinese compounds)), which are Japanese pseudo-Sinicisms (Japanese words created on Chinese roots), and are also extremely common.

Some wasei-eigo terms have found their way back into English, and on to other languages: for example, anime was originally the Japanese truncation of "animation".


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Further reading[edit]

  • Miller, Laura (1997). "Wasei eigo: English ‘loanwords' Coined in Japan". In Hill, Jane H.; Mistry, P.J.; Campbell, Lyle. The Life of Language: Papers in Linguistics in Honor of William Bright. Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs 108. Berlin: Mouton / De Gruyter. pp. 123–139. ISBN 3110156334.  at Google Books
  • Masuda, Koh, ed. (1990). Kenkyusha's New Japanese-English Dictionary (4th ed.). Tokyo: Kenkyusha. ISBN 4-7674-2015-6. 
  • Gakken (2003). 用例でわかるカタカナ新語辞典 [Katakana Shingo-jiten (Katakana by Example New Word Dictionary)] (in japanese). ISBN 4-05-301351-8. 

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