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!
Japanese often think this is English; it’s actually German, arbeit (work).
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 is the Japanese word for weak coffee, not someone from the United States.
In English this would mean that the bargains are on sale. A sale is where you find bargains! Leave me alone, Japan
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).
Mixed-race child. Probably related to “half-caste”, but saying “I’m half” overseas will get you some funny looks.
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.
A female white-collar worker is often called an office lady, shortened to OL.
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.