“Japanglish” is Japanized English based on actual words or parts of word combinations. They are written in Katakana, which is Japanese characters normally used for words from foreign countries. Some of them do not exist in standard English, or just mean something entirely different from the words from which they were derived.
Here, I would like to introduce some fun Japanglish words to know hoping you might have a better understanding when you travel to Japan or even watch Japanese TV shows.
1. Style (スタイル、Sutairu)
Being a foreigner in Japan, you would often hear people compliment like “Aw, you are in a nice style (Sutairu iine! ). That means you are in good shape, have small face (a compliment, believe it or not), and longer legs compared to the average Japanese person.
2. My pace (マイペース、Mai pesu)
Friend 1: Oh, Kiki is late again!
Friend 2: Yeah, she is a my-pace person.
In this conversation, Kiki is described as not punctual. In Japanglish, “my pace” usually means “at a slow pace”, “behind” and “not punctual”. Make sure you arrive anywhere 5 minutes before you are supposed to be. That’s usual Japanese etiquette.
3. Fight (ファイト、faito)
“Fight!” is a word which is used quite often at sports matches or any opportunity that we want to cheer someone on. We do not mean to get in fights, but we mean “do your best”, “good luck”, “you can do it!”
No worries, we don't enjoy fighting over anything.
4. Ice (アイス , aisu)
For Japanese, all kinds of ice treats are called ice! Regardless if it’s ice cream, popsicles, or an ice cream bar. We all scream for ice cream~!
5. Juice (ジュース, juusu)
It sounds strange, but we call all cold drinks either tea or juice. So if it is not ‘TEA’ , all soft drinks are considered juice when talked about in conversational Japanese.
6. American dog (アメリカンドッグ, amerikan doggu)
An American dog is a common sight in convenience stores (aka conbini). It is kept warm. It smells nice… and tastes good! Can you guess what it is?
It is… a corn dog! Well, if we go into details, there actually is a difference between American dogs vs corn dogs, in that we use flour to cook American dogs vs corn flour that is used for corn dogs.
7. Apartment (アパート,apato) vs Mansion (マンション,manshon)
Apartments (アパート、Apato) and mansions are similar types of buildings in Japan and most of them are regarded as a plain apartments in English. The only difference between ‘apato’ and mansion is that mansions have 4 floors or more. We don’t have to have any private swimming pools, a gym, a bar, gorgeous furniture or many guest rooms to call our living place a ‘mansion’.
8. Pension (ペンション, penshon)
Pension in Japanglish means bed and breakfast, or holiday home. You might feel it is nothing like ‘pension’ in English. But this word came from when a retired couple started their bed and breakfast business with their pension. (There are various theories.)
9. Salaryman* (サラリーマン, sarariman)
You probably know this already, but a salaryman (サラリーマン, Sararīman) is a salaried worker who suits up everyday and is super loyal to the company he works for. His work day looks like 8am-10pm with work, 10pm-1am with drinks with co-workers, then home and sleep afterwards. Then he wakes up at 6am to get ready for another day.
10. O.L. * (オーエル,oh eru)
There is a similar term to salaryman. Do you know Aggretsuko? She is an O.L. = Office Lady, and it means ladies who work in an office. More specially she wears nice make up, heels and a dress, or a company uniform that is not even cute. They usually travel in groups to go to lunch everyday at noon sharp.
*Some of these impressions of Salaryman and O.L is maybe biased from what I personally see.