are Japanese-language expressions based on English words, or parts of word combinations, that do not exist in standard English or whose meanings differ from the words from which they were derived.
Linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and structure. Linguis ...
classifies them as pseudo-
loanword A loanword (also loan word or loan-word) is a word at least partly assimilated from one language (the donor language) into another language. This is in contrast to cognates, which are words in two or more languages that are similar because the ...
s or pseudo-anglicisms. ''Wasei-eigo'' words, compound words and
portmanteau A portmanteau word, or portmanteau (, ) is a Blend word, blend of wordsloanword A loanword (also loan word or loan-word) is a word at least partly assimilated from one language (the donor language) into another language. This is in contrast to cognates, which are words in two or more languages that are similar because the ...
s derived from English and embedded into the Japanese lexicon with refashioned, novel meanings diverging significantly from the originals.Miller, L. (1998). Wasei eigo: English “loanwords” coined in Japan. The life of language: Papers in linguistics in honor of William Bright. An example is , derived from "handle" with the meaning of "
steering wheel A steering wheel (also called a driving wheel (UK), a hand wheel, or simply wheel) is a type of steering control in vehicles. Steering wheels are used in most modern land vehicles, including all mass-production automobiles, buses, light and ...
", with the full phrase meaning designated driver. Some ''wasei-eigo'' terms are not recognizable as English words in
English-speaking countries The following is a list of English language, English-speaking population List of sovereign states, by country, including information on both First language, native speakers and second language, second-language speakers. List * The Europea ...
; one example is , which refers to physical contact between close friends or loved ones and appears to be a portmanteau of ''skin'' and ''kinship''.Miura, Akira (1998). English in Japanese: a selection of useful loanwords. In other cases, a word may simply have gained a slightly different meaning; for instance, does not mean "cunning", but "cheating" (on a test). Some ''wasei-eigo'' are subsequently borrowed from Japanese into other languages, including English itself.

Confusion with ''gairaigo''

''Wasei-eigo'' is often confused with '' gairaigo'', which refers simply to loanwords or "words from abroad". Some of the main contributors to this confusion are the phonological and morphological transformations that they undergo to suit
Japanese phonology The phonology of Japanese language, Japanese features about 15 consonant phonemes, the cross-linguistically typical five-vowel system of , and a relatively simple Phonotactics, phonotactic distribution of phonemes allowing few consonant cluste ...
syllabary In the Linguistics, linguistic study of Written language, written languages, a syllabary is a set of grapheme, written symbols that represent the syllables or (more frequently) mora (linguistics), moras which make up words. A symbol in a syllaba ...
. These transformations often result in truncated (or "backclipped") words and words with extra vowels inserted to accommodate the Japanese ''mora'' syllabic structure. ''Wasei-eigo'', on the other hand, is the re-working of and experimentation with these words that results in an entirely novel meaning as compared to the original intended meaning.

Compared to other Japanese word classes

''Wasei-eigo'' is distinct from '' Engrish'', the misuse or corruption of the English language by native Japanese speakers, as it consists of words used in Japanese conversation, not an attempt at speaking English. These include acronyms and initialisms particular to Japan (see list of Japanese Latin alphabetic abbreviations). ''Wasei-eigo'' can be compared to , which are Japanese pseudo-Sinicisms (Japanese words created from Chinese roots) and are also extremely common.

History and process

There was a large influx of English loanwords introduced to Japan during the
Meiji period The is an Japanese era name, era of History of Japan, Japanese history that extended from October 23, 1868 to July 30, 1912. The Meiji era was the first half of the Empire of Japan, when the Japanese people moved from being an isolated feud ...
, which was an important factor in Japan's modernization.MacGregor, Laura (2003). The language of shop signs in Tokyo. English Today, null, pp 18 Because they were so quickly accepted into Japanese society there was 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 meaning often deviates from the original. When these loanwords become so deeply embedded in the Japanese lexicon, it leads to experimentation and re-fashioning of the words' meaning, thus resulting in ''wasei-eigo''.

In the media

Many scholars agree that the main proponent behind these ''wasei-eigo'' terms is the media, in order to create interest and novelty in their advertising and products. 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.Hogan, J. (2003). The social significance of English usage in Japan. Japanese studies, 23(1).

Social connotations and main users

Though there is disagreement about the assumption that the majority of ''wasei-eigo'' are created by advertisers, the audience that predominantly uses ''wasei-eigo'' is youth and women. Many Japanese consider English loanword usage to be more casual and as being used mainly among peers of the same status. In addition, many ''wasei-eigo'' words are used to camouflage risqué terms and ideas, such as the famous ''rabbuho'' (
love hotel A love hotel is a type of short-stay hotel found around the world operated primarily for the purpose of allowing guests privacy for Human sexual activity, sexual activities. The name originates from "Hotel Love" in Osaka, which was built in 19 ...
), or the many ''massaji'' (massage) and ''sabisu'' (service) associated with taboo topics. Finally, ''wasei-eigo'' may be used to express a poetic and emphatic need of the speaker, resulting in a new term. English loanwords are usually written in ''
katakana is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system along with hiragana, kanji and in some cases the Latin script (known as rōmaji). The word ''katakana'' means "fragmentary kana", as the katakana characters are derived fro ...
'', making it apparent that they are words non-native to Japan.KAY, G. (1995), English loanwords in Japanese. World Englishes, 14. 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. Further, being non-native Japanese words and marked as foreign in their writing, they can be associated with concepts and subjects that are non-normal, or uncommon in Japan. ''Wasei-eigo'' has resulted in some inadvertently unfortunate results, such as the adoption in 2013 by Fukushima Industries of Fukuppy as the name of their corporate mascot.

See also

* Engrish * List of ''gairaigo'' and ''wasei-eigo'' terms * List of Japanese Latin alphabetic abbreviations * Konglish – the same phenomenon in Korean language * Bonin English, sometimes considered an Anglo-Japanese
mixed language A mixed language is a language that arises among a bilingual group combining aspects of two or more languages but not clearly deriving primarily from any single language. It differs from a creole language, creole or pidgin, pidgin language in that ...


Further reading

* at Google Books * * *

External links

''Wasei-eigo'' examplesWiktionary entry for ''handorukīpā''
{{DEFAULTSORT:Wasei-Eigo Japanese vocabulary de:Gairaigo#Wasei-Eigo