Japanese has many words that come from English, but many of them have very different meanings compared to the English words they originally borrowed from. As you may already know, this is called “wasei eigo” (和製英語). However, many people are not aware that these same words mean very different things in English, and so may use these when speaking or writing, leading to confusion or some awkward sounding sentences. Let’s look at some of these words and see what the standard English equivalents are!
In English, this is called a plug, socket, or outlet. Consent means to give permission, or say yes or no to something. Quite different, so when speaking English, be careful not to ask someone where the consent is!
I have been asked by many confused students why no one understands them when they use this word when speaking English. That is because while the word “skin” and ending “ship”, while part of English, do not come together to make the word “skinship”. In English, this word does not exist. Rather, we call it “physical contact”. “touching” is also another word meaning similar things. You may get weird looks from people if you ask them how they feel about skinship!
This is not too different, as it refers to an item of clothing in English as well. The difference is that in Japanese, parka refers to what we would call a hoodie or hooded sweatshirt. In English, parka refers to a winter jacket.
In English, recycle means to reuse certain objects like cans, paper, etc. A recycle shop would seem to be the name of a place where you bring in things to recycle… however, this wasei eigo word means a store to buy secondhand things. In English, this would be called a thrift store.
These are just some of the words that do not have the same meaning that we may think. But while different, they can be good conversation starters if talking to someone who may be interested in Japanese language or culture. Try out this set of new vocabulary and always be on the lookout for other similar words!