Business language in English is famous for its overly complex jargon which though intended to impress the listener, often leaves people scratching their heads. The situation is similar in Japan, but an interesting point is that many popular Japanese business buzzwords have been adapted from the English language.
There seems to be a general idea that learning the Japanese language is quite difficult. It’s backed up by official sources, too, like the US Government’s Foreign Service Institute’s School of Language studies. The SLS ranks languages by the length of time typically required for native English speaking students to reach “Professional Working Proficiency” in a large number of languages.
Last time, we started on our trip through the more obscure or unexpected twists and turns of learning Japanese (but not the harder parts; the list of kanji is that way if that’s what you want) with an overview of some abbreviations. This time, we’ll pick up where we left off with one particular example, but we’re also going to be taking a look at bits and pieces of all sorts of other things that wouldn’t fill a full article by themselves.
When you live in Japan, from time to time you will encounter words or expressions dropped here and there in casual conversation that might seem familiar, but which you don’t quite understand. These are wasei-eigo (和製英語 — literally "English made in Japan"): pseudo-English words and phrases used in the Japanese language that can actually be quite confusing for native English speakers.
Welcome to a new series, where I’ll be walking you through some of the stranger twists and turns of the Japanese language. As languages go, it’s probably the most reasonable one I speak (certainly makes more sense than English), but it’s different enough from most other languages that there are still lots of things to trip over for a potential student.
Picture this: a typical Japanese junior high school class is suddenly interrupted by the entrance through an open window of a large bee which swooping low and erratically over the heads of the students causes them to duck and squeal creating quite a commotion. Their teacher, a gentleman in his early 50's, beams at the class and announces: