Education & Work in Japanese English / 教育や仕事の和製英語


Japanese has something called wasei eigo (和製英語, literally “Japanese-made English”), which means words that seem to be English (eigo), but are not. These words came from English originally, but the meaning has been changed to a distinctly Japanese meaning.

Today’s wasei eigo theme is phrases related to school and work.

Over Doctor / obaa dokutaa / オバードクター

In English, this sounds like a doctor who is much to involved in health care. But in Japanese, this refers to someone who is over-educated, particularly someone who is unemployed and holds a PhD.


“Recently, the over doctor problem has become a social issue in this country.” or “Recently, the amount of underemployed, over-educated people has become a social issue in this country.”

Parasite Single / parasaito shinguru / パラサイトシングル

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Food in Japanese-English/和製英語食べ物


Japanese has something called wasei eigo (和製英語, literally “Japanese-made English”), which means words that seem to be English (eigo), but are not. These words came from English originally, but the meaning has been changed to a distinctly Japanese meaning.


I know, it’s confusing. So, here is an example. Today I’m going to list some wasei eigo names for familiar foods.

American dog (amerikan doggu/アメリカンドッグ)

An amerikan doggu is a corn dog.

Ice (aisu/アイス)

Aisu is a short form of ice cream. You can also use the longer form aisu kuriimu (アイスクリーム), but I prefer asking if someone wants to eat ice!

Ice candy (aisu kyandii/アイスキャンディー)

The term aisu kyandii refers to popsicles AKA ice lollies.

Hotcake (hotto keeki/ホットケーキ)

A hotto keeki is a pancake.

Fried potato (furaido poteto/フライドポテト)

French fries AKA chips are known as furaido poteto.

Juice (juusu/ジュース)

When my friends asked me to buy juusu for a party, they didn’t mean fruit juice, but rather soda. It can also be used for energy drinks.

Sand (sando/サンド)

Rather than the full sandoicchi (サンドイッチ) you can just shorten sandwich to sando.

Soft cream (sofuto kuriimu/ソフトクリーム)

Sofuto kuriimu is soft serve ice cream.

Now I’m really hungry, so I’m going to go find something to eat!





アメリカンドッグじゃなくて、英語でcorn dogって言うね。


アイスとアイスクリームは英語でice creamでしょね。アイスが良いやすいから、仲良くアメリカ人の友達と一緒にiceをよく使うけどね(笑)


アイスキャンディーはアメリカでpopsicle、イギリスでice lolliesと言うね。




アメリカのフライドポテトはfrench friesって言っても、フランスから来てないって聞いたよ.





Soft cream (sofuto kuriimu/ソフトクリーム)

ソフトクリームは英語でsoft serve ice creamって言うね。




Want more? Check out my other wasei eigo examples! 他の和製英語はここです! About/アバウト, Recycle/リサイクル, Cunning/カンニング

What other wasei eigo have you heard? Did you misunderstand it when you first heard it? Let me know in the comments!


“About” Japanese English/「アバウト」和製英語


Japanese has something called wasei eigo literally “Japanese-made English”), which means words that seem to be English (eigo), but are not. These words came from English originally, but the meaning has been changed to a distinctly Japanese meaning.


I know, it’s confusing. So, here is an example.

About (abauto)

In English, the word about has a lot of meanings. When I first heard it in the wasei eigo context, the meaning that came to my mind was the meaning as in “about 400 people.” So around, approximately, etc. In the wasei eigo context, it means something different. If you look it up in the dictionary, the definition is “lackadaisical” or “sloppy.” Sloppy, lazy, etc., I think is the best way to describe this word. If someone does things sloppily, for example, they don’t put their best into their job, they are “abauto” (pronounced like about+o).




アバウト (about)

英語だと、アバウトって色々な意味がありますね。初めて聞いた時、絶対「約」って言う意味が頭に出て来ましたね。和製英語の意味だと、英語の ”sloppy” とか “lazy” という言葉があってますね。店員さんとかの場合だと、 they are not doing their job well とか言えますね。

Want more? Check out my other wasei eigo examples! 他の和製英語はここです!Recycle/リサイクル, Cunning/カンニング

What other wasei eigo have you heard? Did you misunderstand it when you first heard it? Let me know in the comments!


“Recycle” Japanese English/「リサイクル」和製英語


Japanese has something called wasei eigo literally “Japanese-made English”), which means words that seem to be English (eigo), but are not. These words came from English originally, but the meaning has been changed to a distinctly Japanese meaning.


I know, it’s confusing. So, here is an example.

Recycle (risaikuru)

In English, recycle is to take something that is old or used and to make something new from it (e.g. paper, plastic). In wasei eigo, recycle, such as in the term recycle shop (リサイクルショップ), means second-hand. A recycle shop sells second-hand goods for a profit.




リサイクル (recycle)

英語だと、リサイクルの意味は再循環っていう意味ですね。リサイクルショップの意味は最初に分かりませんでしたね。リサイクルショップは英語だとthrift shopって言いますね。リサイクルって、再循環の意味もあるかな?知りませんけどね。

“Cunning” Japanese English/「カンニング」和製英語


Japanese has something called wasei eigo (literally “Japanese-made English”), which means words that seem to be English (eigo), but are not. These words came from English originally, but the meaning has been changed to a distinctly Japanese meaning.


I know, it’s confusing. So, here is an example.

Cunning (kanningu)

In English, cunning means something like achieving a goal by a clever but deceptive method. In Japanese this might be something like ずるい (zurui) or ずるがしこい (zurugashikoi). In wasei eigo, cunning means cheating, like on an exam or homework. It’s used as a noun カンニング (kanningu), but also can be used as a verb if you add –する (-suru) (to do) – カンニングする (kanningu suru).




カンニング (cunning)

英語だと、カンニングの意味は日本語のずるいとかずるがしこいっていう意味ですね。和製英語の意味って、英語だとcheatingって言えば良いと思いますね。名詞だと、cheater (カンニングした人)、動詞だと、to cheat (カンニングする)でしょ。

What other wasei eigo have you heard? Did you misunderstand it when you first heard it? Let me know in the comments!


Bilingual writing / バイリンガル・ブログ


So if you have read any of my previous posts, you’ll notice I write in English and (try to write in) Japanese. Writing in English is easy for me because it’s my first language. Writing in Japanese is more challenging, especially trying to break out of elementary sentence structure.


Most people who read my posts are probably native English speakers. Maybe some Japanese people have read my posts? If they have, they probably also speak English. I don’t really know


So why write in two languages? I hope some people will be interested in my relationship with a Japanese guy, or things I write about Japan and Japanese culture. Maybe mostly Americans, but maybe some Japanese people will be interested too. Maybe writing in English and Japanese will help Japanese people to understand English, or help English speakers to understand Japanese, just a little bit better.


I also have selfish motives for writing in two languages. Writing consistently in Japanese might help me to improve my skills. Translating what I’m thinking about in English to Japanese, or thinking about how to translate my thoughts in Japanese to English, will hopefully help me.


It’s a challenge to write in two languages, but I plan to keep going. Do you read and write in two languages? Do you post in two languages? Do you have any advice for bilingual writers?


One month ’til Japan! / 日本まで後一ヶ月


My phone’s countdown app says 32 days until I leave for my one month vacation in Japan! (* >ω<)

I will be visiting my fiancé in Tokyo and visiting old friends that I made during my study abroad trip. See 3 spots I want to visit in Tokyo!

In addition to increasing my excitement about going, this also increases my stress about my thesis research. I’m a graduate student and I hope to graduate next semester, which means that I need to finish the majority of my research and first thesis draft before I go to Japan (;´Д`) I’m fairly confident that I will be spending very little time writing my thesis while in Japan.

My fiancé has even threatened to quit Skyping me for the next month if I don’t spend more time on my thesis. I’m not really slacking off, but I could probably spend a little more time on it. Of course, my thesis is important, but planning my time in Japan is way more fun!






Japanese vs. American Facebook/日本人とアメリカ人のFacebook使い方


Facebook: Japanese vs. American Style

In America, it is common to post every little thing on Facebook.

This morning I ate a spectacular banana, and wrote myself a reminder to post about that banana on Facebook (it was a great banana).

Crazy university photos, trips to Las Vegas, that rock that looks like Brad Pitt – everything goes on Facebook. Cute selfies on the profile pic, you and your 5 closest friends on the cover photo, and a photo documentation of your cat’s daily life are essential Facebook staples.

However, Japanese people tend to post a lot less in general than Americans. Like the social site, Japanese Facebook profile pics are usually an obscured photo of the person, a cute animal, or the person with a group of friends. My friends don’t often put up many photos of themselves on Facebook, rather, other people tag them in photos. Why not?

Japanese people prefer anonymity online more than Americans do. Japanese media will often blur out faces, or not show faces, even with regards to celebrities. Japanese people appear to be more wary of the repercussions of posting their photos online than Americans. Of course, not all Americans post crazy pics that everyone on Facebook can see, but they still tend to post crazier photos and post photos that show their faces. Japanese people are sometimes even uncomfortable with sharing their real names online. When you meet an American, it’s customary to become Facebook friends fairly quickly, even if you don’t know the person, by clicking on Friend Request and waiting for them to accept. It’s even faster due to cell phones. When you meet a Japanese person, however, it’s customary to ask their permission before you send the Friend Request. Some people might see it as rude to simply send the request, since you are little more than acquaintances. It’s best to ask in person, but you can also send a short message asking them to become your friend. Recently, however, more and more Japanese students just send me the request, without asking. They must have caught onto the American Facebook way.

How do you feel about sharing photos on Facebook? Do you use your own photo or do you use animals or whatever instead? Are there other cultural differences you notice?









English Conversation/英会話


I am studying at an American university in a town with a primarily white population and a very diverse international population of study abroad students. Since I speak Japanese and I am friends with long-term Japanese university students, I usually meet most of the Japanese exchange students at the beginning of the year. When they meet me, they are very excited that I speak both English and Japanese, and they request to meet with me to practice English conversation. I understand the desire to improve in a foreign language so of course I agree to meet with them, even though I am busy with my graduate research. During the first few weeks of school it seems like I won’t have time for my own research with all the commitments I make for English conversation. That’s not the case!

In the long term, I find that most of the Japanese students don’t follow up with their request for English conversation. I usually become close with one, maybe two, of the Japanese students who actually invite me specifically for English conversation meetings. It seemed weird at first to me, because even if we weren’t friends, I would have thought that Japanese students would want to meet up with me to practice their English.

That sounds conceited, but when I was studying in Japan I tended to make friends more with people who had an interest in America or English language because they were usually the most friendly. It was also intimidating to approach people to forge friendships, and I was always happy when the other person started a conversation. So why is it different with Japanese students at my university?

Study abroad programs facilitate different levels of interaction

I think that in my case it has to do primarily with the differences in the study abroad program for American students in Japan and the program for Japanese students in America. In many study abroad programs for American students in Japan, the American students are segregated in housing and classes with other foreign students. In study abroad programs for Japanese students in America, Japanese students are usually combined in dorms with the American students, and have more independence in terms of study programs and classes. Japanese students become more easily integrated into the American university, while the American students tend to be segregated with other foreign students and have a separate curriculum from the Japanese students. The result is that Japanese students can more easily form friendships with other students because they have more opportunity to directly interact with them in classes.

Japanese proficiency isn’t always ideal for English conversation

While I am able to speak Japanese and English, this is not always a good thing for a Japanese student who wants to improve their English. Since I can speak Japanese, sometimes this is less demanding than speaking with a person who can only speak English. If there is a phrase or word they cannot understand, they can simply ask me rather than trying to come up with the phrase or word on their own. Also, they can revert to speaking totally in Japanese if they get tired of speaking English. This is a barrier to improving English rather than being useful.

English conversation pairing programs are useful for effective pairings

My university used to have an English conversation program, but due to funding cuts the program was cancelled. It’s a shame since this program was a great way to pair foreign students with English-speaking students were interested.

My Japanese university had a school-organized language lounge. Every week at the same time they would open the lounge for a different language. These types of school-sponsored programs are important in facilitating learning for foreign students.

So how can you make friends through English conversation?

It seems like it’s difficult to find English conversation partners and then make friends with them. There are language barriers, cultural barriers, and time constraints for everyone involved.

So how do you find a Japanese student to speak English with or an American student who wishes to speak English with you? I can only rely on my experience, but I hope this information is helpful to others! In particular, I’m directing the following advice at students at university.

1. Join an international club

If your university has an international club, it’s a good idea to check it out during the first few weeks of class, since most international students will attend the first few meetings (and then maybe stop coming). Approach the Japanese students (or whichever nationality you’re interested in interacting with) and ask them questions about themselves. This is the easiest way to break the ice.

2. Volunteer at a language center/international center

Visit the international office, the English language center, or other internationally-oriented organization on campus. Try to volunteer for events such as promoting the study abroad programs, speaking with international students who have just arrived in America, or any other events that will put you in contact with international students. Then, approach the students and ask them questions about themselves.

3. Hang out at the international dorms

Often, a university will place international students in a particular dorm, so if you know which dorm is the international dorm you can often mingle with the international students. Make sure not to be creepy though (see below)!

How NOT to get a conversation partner and make friends:

1. Be creepy

Approaching foreigners you don’t know and asking them for dates, asking them for personal contact information, or generally being creepy is not a way to get a conversation partner, and it is not the path to friendship. I think this applies pretty universally, but I’ve seen it happen surprisingly often. I’ve even been guilty of being slightly creepy myself (unintentionally).

2. Expect to get free Japanese lessons

Language exchange is a great option if you’d like to practice Japanese and the Japanese student wants to practice English, but make sure to reciprocate in a language exchange. If you expect to have someone teach you Japanese for free, the Japanese student will eventually stop meeting with you because there is no benefit for them. This is just common sense in human interaction, but I’ve seen a lot of American students who just want to have a personal Japanese teacher. Japanese students can make the exchange one-sided as well, so make sure to tell them that you want to practice Japanese as well.

Have you tried English conversation or language exchange? What was your experience like? Do you have any good recommendations for finding conversation partners or making international friends?