Wasei-eigo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

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. These words were originally borrowed loanwords deriving from English but have become so embedded into the Japanese lexicon that they are re-fashioned to create a novel meaning – diverging from its original intended meaning.[1] Some examples of wasei-eigo are reberu appu (レベルアップ 'level up'?), which means "raise a level", the preposition being interpreted in line with Japanese word order as a verb qualifying its preceding object). 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."

Wasei-eigo is distinct from Engrish, as it consists of words used in Japanese conversation – not an attempt at speaking English.[2] 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 from Chinese roots) and are also extremely common.

There was a large influx of English loanwords introduced to Japan during the Meiji period, which was an important factor in Japan’s modernization.[3] Because they were so quickly accepted into Japanese society there is not a thorough understanding of the actual meaning of the word leading to misinterpretations and deviations from their original meaning. Since English loanwords are adopted into Japan intentionally (as opposed to diffusing "naturally" through language contact, etc.), the original source meaning often deviates, and when these loanword become so deeply embedded in the Japanese lexicon it leads to experimentation and re-fashioning of the words' meaning, thus resulting in wasei-eigo.[4] Some examples include manshon, which phonetically came from the English word "mansion" but instead has the meaning of "apartment", albeit with a more luxurious connotation.[5]

In the media[edit]

Many scholars also agree that the main proponent behind these wasei-eigo terms is mainly the media to create interest and novelty in their advertising and products.[6] The use of English words is also an attempt by advertisers to portray a modern, cosmopolitan image – one that is often associated with Western culture.[7]

Social connotations and main users of Wasei-eigo[edit]

Though there is disagreement about the assumption that the majority creators of wasei-eigo are the aforementioned advertisers, the audience that predominantly uses wasei-eigo is youth and women.[8] Many Japanese consider English loanword usage to be more casual and as being used mainly among peers of the same status.[9] Numerous wasei-eigo terms refer to sexual or risqué topics:[10] some examples are sōpu rando "soapland" (which refers to a Turkish bath-style brothel), biniiru bon "vinyl books" (bon being the Japanese word for "book" (hon) after having undergone phonological processing) to mean pornography that is wrapped and sold in plastic covers, and deeto kissa "date coffee shop" (kissa being the truncated word for kissaten "coffee shop" in Japanese) meaning a place to set up meetings and services with prostitutes.[11] English loanwords are usually written in katakana, making it apparent that they are words non-native to Japan.[12] This constant reminder that these are loanwords, and not natively Japanese, links the meanings of the words with the idea of "foreignness". Because of this, wasei-eigo (and some English loanwords) is often used as a method for speaking about taboo and controversial topics in a safe and neutral way.[13] Like the aforementioned examples above, because these words are not native Japanese words and are marked as foreign in their writing, it can be associated with concepts and subjects that are non-normal or unique to Japan.[14]

Confusion with Gairaigo[edit]

Wasei-eigo is often confused with gairaigo, which is simply loanwords or “words from abroad”. The main contributor to this confusion is that many gairaigo words derived from English are mistaken for wasei-eigo due to the phonological and morphological transformation they undergo to suit Japanese phonology and syllabary. These transformations often result in truncated (or "backclipped") words and words with extra vowels inserted to accommodate to the Japanese mora syllabic structure.[15] Wasei-eigo, on the other hand, is the re-working of and experimentation with these words that result in an entirely novel meaning as compared to the original intended meaning.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Miller, L. (1998). Wasei eigo: English “loanwords” coined in Japan. The life of language: Papers in linguistics in honor of William Bright, 124.
  2. ^ Nagae, Akira (October 28, 2005). "恥ずかしい和製英語 [著]スティーブン・ウォルシュ" [Embarassing Japanese-English Words [Author] Stephen Walsh] (in Japanese). Weekly Asahi. "Book review" 
  3. ^ MacGregor, Laura (2003). The language of shop signs in Tokyo. English Today, null, pp 18 doi:10.1017/ S0266078403001020
  4. ^ Miller, L. (1998). Wasei eigo: English “loanwords” coined in Japan. The life of language: Papers in linguistics in honor of William Bright, 127.
  5. ^ Seargeant, Philip. (2005). Globalisation and reconfigured English in Japan. World Englishes, 24(3), 315. doi:10.1111/j.0083-2919.2005.00412.x
  6. ^ Miller, L. (1998). Wasei eigo: English “loanwords” coined in Japan. The life of language: Papers in linguistics in honor of William Bright, 133.
  7. ^ Hogan, J. (2003). The social significance of English usage in Japan. Japanese studies, 23(1), 48.
  8. ^ Miller, L. (1998). Wasei eigo: English “loanwords” coined in Japan. The life of language: Papers in linguistics in honor of William Bright, 123-139.
  9. ^ Hogan, J. (2003). The social significance of English usage in Japan. Japanese studies, 23(1), 49.
  10. ^ Miller, L. (1998). Wasei eigo: English “loanwords” coined in Japan. The life of language: Papers in linguistics in honor of William Bright, 123-139.
  11. ^ Miller, L. (1998). Wasei eigo: English “loanwords” coined in Japan. The life of language: Papers in linguistics in honor of William Bright, 123-139.
  12. ^ KAY, G. (1995), English loanwords in Japanese. World Englishes, 14: 73. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-971X.1995.tb00340.x
  13. ^ Hogan, J. (2003). The social significance of English usage in Japan. Japanese studies, 23(1), 52.
  14. ^ Hogan, J. (2003). The social significance of English usage in Japan. Japanese studies, 23(1), 57.
  15. ^ KAY, G. (1995), English loanwords in Japanese. World Englishes, 14: 70. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-971X.1995.tb00340.x
  16. ^ Miller, L. (1998). Wasei eigo: English “loanwords” coined in Japan. The life of language: Papers in linguistics in honor of William Bright, 123–139.

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 Limited. 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. 

External links[edit]