I had one of these “you know you’ve been in Japan too long” moments reading this list, as for three or four of them I had to stop and think if they really were Japanese inventions, 和製英語, wasei eigo, Japanese-style English! How many of these expressions that the Japanese didn’t know were Japanese-English, as reported by goo Ranking, did you have to mentally double-check? The survey was conducted between the 28th and 30th of August 2007.
Q: What expressions were you unaware that they were really Japanes-English?
Rank 日本語 English Explanation Score 1 オーダーメイド Order-made This should be “custom-made”, although I must admit to having forgotton that! 100 2 スキンシップ Skin-ship Personal contact, physical contact within a family or pet relationship 89.9 3 コンセント Consent Outlet if you’re American, socket if you’re from the UK. The expression comes from “concentric plug”, apparently 88.9 4 キーホルダー Key holder Key ring 85.8 5 パワーハラスメント Power Harassment Bullying, in the workplace primarily. I was surprised that this isn’t English! 85.2 6 デコレーションケーキ Decoration Cake Fancy cake 83.3 7 ガードマン Guardman Security guard 79.9 8 コインランドリー Coin laundry Laundromat, according to the survey, but “coin laundry” is also acceptable, is it not? 75.9 9 リフォーム Reform Renovation, used when a home or commercial building is remodelled either partially or fully 75.3 10 リベンジ Revenge Return match 75.1 11 グレードアップ Grade up Upgrade 74.2 12 ナンバーディスプレイ Number display Caller ID 71.8 13 スパッツ Spats Leggings 71.2 14 フリーサイズ Free size One-size-fits-all 70.1 15 マグカップ Mug cup Mug 67.1 16 ベビーカー Baby car Baby carriage 66.2 17 メールマガジン Mail magazine Email newsletter 65.9 18 ノートパソコン Note pasocon Laptop. Here “note” is short for “notebook” and “pasocon” comes from “personal computer” 65.4 19 パンティストッキング Panty stocking Pantyhose 65.0 20 マニア Mania Enthusiasm, rather than implying a serious mental disorder as the English term perhaps does 63.8 21 ワンパターン One pattern Manneristic 61.3 22 フライドポテト Fried potato French fries. This one seems a bit of a stretch to me, though. 61.1 23 スリーサイズ Three size Measurements, vital statistics, bust, waist and hips – that’s another one – Japanese use hip (or ヒップ) to mean bottom 59.7 24 プラスアルファ Plus alpha Additional value. I saw on the television that this came from baseball. Someone saw an American scoreboard with an “x” in one box, but he misread it as α, and it stuck. 57.0 25 ペーパーテスト Paper test Written examination. A similar expression is “paper driver”, someone who has a license but no car. 56.3 26 リストラ Restra Downsizing. The Japanese is an abbreviation of “restructuring” 56.0 27 ファンタジック Fantasic Fantastic. Apparently the misspelling comes from video games, and seems to have got stuck in Japanese 53.1 28 ラジカセ Raji-case Boom box. The expression comes from “radio-cassette” 52.6 29 テレビゲーム TV game Video game 50.7 30 ガソリンスタンド Gasoline stand Gas station, petrol station 49.3