Wasei Eigo explained

Wasei Eigo refers to Japanese words that are ostensibly English. If you don’t know what ostensibly means, it means that they aren’t really English.

The opposite also occurs: the similarities between Japanese sushi and English sushi start and end with rice, or English tycoon and Japanese taikun, a term meaning “great prince”.

Cars, a fountain of wasei eigo:

Most people’s introduction to wasei eigo are the numerous English-sounding words used to refer to car parts:

Accelerator in Japanese is Accel

Gear Stick in Japanese is Change lever

Handbrake in Japanese is Side brake

Horn in Japanese is Klaxon

Indicators in Japanese is Winker

Rearview mirror in Japanese is Back mirror

Steering Wheel in Japanese is Handle

Windscreen in Japanese is Front glas*

*not a typo. English glass is translated gurasu, as opposed to Dutch garasu. Now you know!

Not Wasei Eigo:

These look like wasei eigo but aren’t. Let me know if you find any others!

Arubaito
Japanese often think this is English; it’s actually German, arbeit (work).

Mansion
I’m sure you’ve made fun of Japanese for calling mere 1K apartments mansions before. You’d better hold your horses; mansion was a word for “an abode or dwelling place.” long before it meant “place you’re too poor to live”.
Wasei Eigo A-Z (kinda):

American:
American is the Japanese word for weak coffee, not someone from the United States.

Bargain Sale:
In English this would mean that the bargains are on sale. A sale is where you find bargains! Leave me alone, Japan

Cunning:
Only cunning linguists know that “cunning” in Japanese actually means cheating, like in a test.

Gasoline Stand: The place where you fill your car with fuel. Bonus points for “self”, as in you have to fill your car up your(self).

Half:
Mixed-race child. Probably related to “half-caste”, but saying “I’m half” overseas will get you some funny looks.

New Half:
Not your half-Japanese baby fresh from the cabbage patch, a new half is a man who identifies as a lady (eg Ai Haruna). Sausage optional.

Office Lady:
A female white-collar worker is often called an office lady, shortened to OL.

Potato Fry:
Japan doesn’t give a fuck that French Fries are actually Belgian. Just that they’re potato and fried.

Snack: Snacks that you eat are kashi. A snack is a kind of bar, usually with ladies behind the counter.

Virgin Road: The wedding aisle. It was the only virgin in the room at both my weddings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *