Janglish which we should all start using

What I prefer to call Janglish is better known as Japlish, Japanese English or wasei eigo. The direct translation of the last term is “English made in Japan”, but a more correct explanation would be Japanese words and expressions made from English roots. However, a few Janglish expressions such as Walkman, salaryman, anime and karaoke have indeed become part of English outside Japan, and others are well on the way (such as “love hotel”) or could well spread from the limited groups of English speakers who already know them (like “mecha” for mechanical from anime and “sayonara home run” from baseball). This piece is a list of my favourite candidates to add to that list, mainly because they say something that it would take us an awful lot longer to say in standard British or American English.

1. romance grey (romansu gurei) – hair flecked with grey

2. bar code (baa koodo) – an old man’s comb over hair cut (because it looks like the stripes of a bar code)

3. paper driver (peipaa doraiba) – someone who has a license but never drives, or often has never driven at all since their test

4. pair look (pea ruuku) – a couple dressing alike (“couple look” in Korean)

5. my boom – the thing I’m really into at the moment

6. three size (surii saizu) – body measurements/ vital statistics (for a woman)

7. virgin road (baajin roodo) – aisle in a church (down which a bride walks)

8. minus driver (mainusu doraiba) – normal screwdriver (a Phillips screwdriver is a “plus driver”, obviously both coming from the shape at the end)

9. skinship (sukinshippu) – positive bodily contact, e.g. between a mother and baby

10. cool biz – being able to dress casually at work during the summer so that the air conditioning can be setter higher

11. parasite single (parashaito shinguru) – an adult child who continues to leech off their parents, e.g. not paying rent, long after they have their own job. Now leading to less used expressions like “parasite wife”

12. parasite wife (parasaito waifu – a wife who just leeches off her husband even though she could easily work)

13. pipe cut (paipu katto) – vasectomy (don’t ask your plumber for this!)

14. no pan (short for no pants/ no panties) – pantyless/ going commando

15. sex frie (seku fure, short for sex friend) – a fling/ a shag/ a lover (i.e. not quite a boyfriend or girlfriend)

16. delivery health (deriberi herusu, often shortened to deri heri) – a prostitute that comes to your hotel room or home

17. baton touch (baton tatchi) – passing the baton (literally or metaphorically)

18. girl hunt (gaaru hanto) – going out to pick up girls, similar to “going out on the pull”

19. doctor stop (dokutaa sutoppu) – something your doctor has forbidden you from doing

20. my pace (mai peisu) – my own pace, meaning taking your own time

21. one pattern (wan pataan) – repetitive

22. love love (rabu rabu) – passionately in love/ affectionate in public

23. food fighter (fuudo faitaa) – competitive eater

24. silver age (shiruba eiji) – old age

25. pocketable (poketaburu) – portable/ able to fit in your pocket

26. washlet (uoshuretto, from wash + toilet) – combined toilet and bidet

27. eye mate (ai meeto) – yellow stripe on pavement to help guide the blind/ guide dog for the blind

28. homewear (hoomuwea) – tracksuits etc for relaxing around the house

29. new half (nyuu harufu) – transsexual, or sometimes transvestite

30. NG (en jii- short for “no good”) – opposite of OK

31. madam killer (madamu kiraa) – a guy who is popular with older women

32. conveni (konbiini) – convenience store

33. remo con (rimo kon) – short for remote control

34. Starbu (sutaba) – short for Starbucks

35. love call (rabu kooru) – screaming at a celebrity you love

36. no make (noo meiku) – not wearing make up

37. design hotel (desain hoteru) – a fancier love hotel

There are also plenty of others which don’t make my list of favourites but still say something quickly that would take much longer in British or American English:

1. LDK – living room, dining room and kitchen

2. M (emu, from S and M) – masochist

3. Mac (makku) – common short form for MacDonald’s

4. SL (esu eru, short for steam locomotive) – steam train

5. SNS (esu en esu) – social media

6. aro fo (aro foo) – short for “around forty” (years old)

7. base up (beisu appu) – all round pay rises

8. bed in (beddo in) – go to bed together

9. car navi (kaa nabi) – satellite navigation

10. centi (senchi) – short for centimeters

11. cheek dance (chiiku dansu) – dancing cheek to cheek

12. chemical shoes (kemikaru shuuzu) – shoes made from plastic

13. companion (konpanyon) – attractive female guide at a large exhibition

14. dining kitchen (dainingu kitchin) – open plan dining room/ kitchen

15. ero (ero) – short for erotic

16. feti (fetchi) – short for fetishist

17. free size (furii saizu) – one size fits all

18. full base (furu beisu) – with the bases loaded (in baseball)

19. high vision (hai bijon) – HDTV

20. idle cost (aidoru kosuto) – the cost of downtime

21. idling stop (aiduringu sutoppu) – leaving your engine on while parked, often seen on signs telling you not to do this common action

22. image up (imeji appu) – improving your image

23. in fight (in faito) – get in close in boxing, the opposite of autobokushingu

24. ivy look (aibii rukku, from Ivy League look) – preppy fashion

25. long seller (rongu seraa) – a book which sells for a long time, similar to bestseller

26. milli (miri) – short for both millimetre and milligrams

27. mini comm (mini komi) – local or regional newspaper or magazine, the opposite of mass communications

28. mini pat (mini paato, short for mini patrol car) – small patrol car

29. monitor (monitaa) – consumer taking part of a marketing survey

30. name value (neimu balyu) – how much a well-known brand name is worth

31. napkin (napukin) – panty liner

32. nighter (naitaa) – a night baseball game

33. no count (noo kaunto) – something that doesn’t count, e.g. a goal which is disallowed

34. no touch (no tatchi) – non-contact (sport) or having no connection to something

35. one man bus (wan man basu) – a bus that doesn’t need a conductor as the driver collects the fares as you enter (obviously not common in conversation now all buses are this way, but sometimes still written)

36. one man company (wan man campanii) – one in which an imperious boss makes all the decisions

37. one man president (wan man president) – a boss who makes all the decisions themselves

38. out boxing (auto bokushingu) – keeping the other fighter at a distance and trying to pick them off

39. outside kick (autosaido kikku) – kick with the outside of your foot

40. oven range (obun renji) – a combined microwave and oven

41. pants look (pantsu ruku) – a woman wearing trousers, e.g. as part of a business suit

42. pit in (pitto in) – going into the pits

43. punc (panku, from puncture) – flat tyre

44. rear car (ria kaa) – small trailer, e.g. behind a bicycle

45. road show (roodo shoo) – first run of movies

46. sad (sado, short for sadism) – sadistic

47. scramble (sukuaramburu) – a crossing where pedestrians can cross from all sides of a crossroads at the same time, like the famous one outside Shibuya station

48. semi double (semi daburu) – small double bed or, more usually, futon

49. skyline (sukairain) – scenic mountain highway

50. stand bar (sutando baa) – small, informal bar where most people stand up or perch on stools

51. ten key (ten kii) – numeric keypad

52. towel-ket (taoruketto, from towel + blanket) – a huge towel that is used instead of a sheet/ duvet when sleeping

53. unit bath (yunitto basu) – modular bathroom/ prefabricated all-in-one bathroom

However, there are some that are so specific I can’t imagine we’d need them ever, or for other more obvious reasons are never going to take off outside Japan:

1. bus jack (basu jakku) – hijacking of a bus

2. ice fall (aisu fooru) – a frozen waterfall

3. blow (buroo) – blow dry

4. cock (kokku or kokku-san) – a cook

5. BS (bii esu, from broadcast satellite) – satellite television

6. hard (haado) – hardware

7. Hello Work (hero waaku) – the official and usually used name for government job centres

Note that some of the expressions are not particularly common in Japanese – but I don’t see why that should stop them becoming part of English!

Any favourites or least favourites above or that I’ve missed, or similar from other languages?

Plenty more on Janglish including four articles on the topic and an updated full list of over 1000 terms on my new Teaching Japanese students articles page.

This entry was posted in English as an International Language/ Lingua Franca, Janglish. Bookmark the permalink.

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