Japanese English

Hi there! How are you doing? Today I want to write about my occupation. I’m a linguist and currently co-writing a Japanese English Dictionary as a researcher with my American University associate professor boss.


The other day, my husband and I were so blessed to have an opportunity to enjoy dinner with a world famous French musician, Pierre and his Japanese pianist wife, Akiko Yamamoto. Pierre is the first violin of  Ebene Quartet and I’m a big fan of Akiko’s piano playing.


We got this drawing from their 8 year old son. He insisted that he wanted to draw for us. The little boy pictured a punk band stage. My husband and I were so impressed with his artistic talent and asked a stationery shop to frame it neatly. This is one of a kind for sure!


I told my job to Pierre and he got so interested in, saying he has hundreds of hundreds of questions. He said “Most of French words are originated in Latin and any word can make sense if you separate it into each stem. But Japanese is not so, right? And even Japanese has 3 alphabets. And in addition to that, there even exists Japanese English! What is going on in Japanese people’s mind???”


And to that very interesting question, I answered “Actually Japanese is basically consisted of 2 languages, China and Korea origin Kango, and Japanese origin Yamatokotoba. All the Japanese people can freely translate the 2 languages. For example, washing a face can be described in 2 ways. Speaking of foreign words and borrowed words, we don’t examine the meanings specifically. We just assume the meanings. As we are homogeneous country and Japanese is the same race in general, so our mutual understanding is rather high. As a result, we can guess each other’s mind without having much difficulties. And we can vaguely understand what others are saying even they are foreign words.” Pierre was quite impressed with what I said.


It’s true that in many of English speaking countries Japanese English is being looked down. However, it can be a COOL JAPAN icon if you change the perspective. I love the concept of changing the viewpoint and making it fun! I’m thinking this or that and I enjoy working on the very rewarding project!

英語圏ではダサいと思われている和製英語だって、そのことを逆手に取ればCOOL JAPAN のアイコンになるのだと、私はシッシッシッと愉快にニンマリ笑いながら仕事をしています。

Blessings to each one of you! Have a lovely day and night!



Back to Top