Internet, butter, brush, bus…Japanese use all of these words when they talk in Japanese. We have a lot of words that come from other languages, especially from English. These words are written in Katakana (one of our characters).
Now these words are already a part of Japanese and we cannot explain some of them without using borrowed words. For instance, we use the word “pen” when we talk. However, how can we say “pen” in Japanese? If we really try, we might manage it, but it would take 2 lines of text to explain one simple word.
Therefore we often use English and have words known as “Japanese-English”. We have created new words from English. These “Japanese- English” words help us hugely, but there is one problem: Japanese people believe that these words are correct, but in many cases, they are incorrect from the view of English speakers. Let me introduce you to some of them.
- Auto-bi: It’s an abbreviation of an automatic bike. It means motorbike or motorcycle.
- Morning call: Can you guess its meaning? A call you receive in the morning to wake you up…. Yes, it means wake-up call. We always say it even when we receive a wake-up call in the afternoon.
- Health meter: It is the word for bathroom scales or kitchen scales. We think weight is one of the important factors to see how healthy you are.
- Gasoline stand: Most people believe that it is the right English for gas station or petrol station.
- Baby car: If you say ”baby car ” in Japan, people will surely imagine a pushchair or baby stroller. It would be surprising for Japanese to find out what baby car means in English.
- Sand bag: It is punching bag in Japanese.
- Front glass: This is a part of a car. This word means windshield or windscreen.
These are just a small selection of the weird words. A lot more Japanese-English words exist and people still don’t know that they are incorrect. If you find Japanese people using these words in your country, let them know the correct English please!