Why do the Japanese say “scrap” for newspaper clippings?

…  therefore completely losing the meaning of something you should throw away.

According to the book on Japlish I’m reading at the moment, it comes from “scrapbook”, which makes sense.

Why do the Japanese say “doctor stop”?

According to English in Japanese by Akira Miura it originally came from a doctor stopping a boxing match and was only later applied to doctors stopping you drinking etc.

Full Japlish dictionary

I’ve finally polished up the various bits I put up section by section a couple of years ago, and now all 1100 entries or so on 55 pages are available as a PDF to read, study, store and send on (but absolutely not republish, obviously) to your heart’s delight for free:

Full Janglish A to Z

Why do the Japanese pronounce dozen “dasu”?

Losing a final n is very uncommon when English words are borrowed into Japanese, and this doesn’t seem to be a borrowing from another language, so it’s always been a puzzle to me.

According to English in Japanese by Akira Miura, the pronunciation might have been taken from the written abbreviation “doz”.

A whole article of mine on Japlish pronunciation here:

Pronunciation changes in Japanese English

How did fantastic become fantajikku in Japanese?

It doesn’t follow regular pronunciation changes, which would make it “fantasutikku” or “fantasuchikku”.

According to English in Japanese by Akira Miura it might have been derived from the title of the Disney film Fantasia rather than just being a pronunciation change from fantastic.

I’ve written a whole article on Japanese English pronunciation changes here.

Why do the Japanese walk on the wrong side?

Meaning walking against all the arrows telling them to be on the other side.

This surprised me when I first came to Japan because I pictured the Japanese as law abiding, but I quickly found that they weren’t following the rules, they were following each other – one of many reasons why the Japanese are nothing like as similiar to the Germans as they think they are.

That pattern explains a whole lot of other stuff as well:

- The yakuza

- How the trains to Kanagawa change from a commuter train where eating is scowled at to a tourist train full of food at some invisible transition point

- A lack of certain crimes rather than a lack of crime, e.g. lost wallets being returned but bikes stolen

- Some local roads where all pedestrians disregard the lights and others where everyone patiently wait to cross an empty road with no cars for miles

- Complete disregard for the law and safety while on a bicycle

- Demos, riots and or looting in some periods and total peace in others

Why do the Japanese have no concept of noise pollution?

Could it be because they get used to the constant drone of cicadas? Would certainly explain why the same is true of everywhere in the Med I’ve been…

More seriously, as I’ve kind of mentioned in that first sentence, the Japanese are together with most of the rest of the world on not even having a word for noise pollution, and it is again us Anglo Saxons (and actually only some of us) who stand almost alone in our love of total peace and quiet. Still, it wouldn’t be the first Anglo Saxon thing to spread to Japan if it did, so I think some explanation is in order for the concept not having travelled. Also, Japanese noise pollution is somewhat different from that of the Med and other places.

Perhaps what makes noise in Japan even more annoying than that in Italian beach resorts is the fact that the people themselves are not shouting down their mobile phones and the houses don’t have blaring windows, making the constant mechanical/ electronic racket really stand out. Many of these things, such as constant warnings to hold on to the escalator handrail, can be explained by safety always coming first. Alternatively, you could see them as examples of the Japanese need to always do their best (gambarimasu) by (literally in this case) adding bells and whistles, e.g. the bird noises to show blind people where the stairs are.  It all relies, however, on no one complaining, and that seems to depend on the Japanese general ability to filter stuff out, also seen by admiring the beautiful sea view while apparently completely oblivious to the smoke stacks from the Japanese style gardens in Negishi. The motorbike exhausts and loud speakers of the rag and bone men could simply be fear of complaining, as both could well have a distant connection to the yakuza.

Why is “miss” used to mean mistake in Japanese?

According to English in Japanese by Akira Miura it might be a shortening of “mistake” rather than a change of meaning of the word “miss”, as I’d always assumed.

Why “seat knock” for fielding practice?

“Shiito in this case is used in the sense of… ‘position’, while nokku in Japanese baseball means ‘hitting a fungo, whether it is a fly or a grounder.’ Shiito nokku, therefore, means ‘hitting fungoes to fielders in their respective positions.’ No one seems to know where, when, and by whom this pseudo-loan was coined.”

English in Japanese pgs 151/ 152

Why is “mood” used to mean atmosphere in Japanese?

E.g. in Japanese a restaurant can be moody, and that’s a good thing!

According to English in Japanese by Akira Miura, it came from the expression “mood music”.

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