Japanese English – Lesson 2

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This is a weekly one point lesson about Japanese English, i.e. English expressions used in Japanese. As loanwords, or borrowings, it is perfectly ok to use them in Japanese, since they are meaningful and became part of the Japanese vocabulary. The problem is when Japanese use those expressions in an unnatural manner when they speak English. This topic is mainly for Japanese learners of English, but oppositely, it might be interesting for (would be) learners of Japanese to learn about such expressions.

Level up
This is an example of fabricated English. In Japanese, it is usually used to say “improve”. I’ve heard 「I want my English to “level up”」 many times before, and although in English it is not appropriate, it is perfectly ok to use it in Japanese, as in “Watashi no eigo o “reberu appu” shitai”.

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7 Responses to “Japanese English – Lesson 2”

  1. Myles Says:

    Yep, I’ve heard it before… on TV though. reberu appu!

  2. Trée Says:

    Love your blog!

  3. Dr. DogChop Says:

    I’m fairly certain that if this did not come from NOVA originally, it has had a role in propagating it. I’ve heard the staff say things like “Level-up omedetto” many times.

  4. sugar Says:

    There’s “Nihon-glish” for you…;)

    Every culture has a different take on the English language. Like here in Singapore, everyone says something is “spoilt” when it is broken, such as “The computer is spoilt” which is of course, inappropriate but is nonetheless widely used and perfectly acceptable here.

    Another funny example is when the toilet is out of order, the signage on the door reads “Do not enter. The toilet is choked”…Now, there’s “Singlish” for you.

  5. Jeff Says:

    Actually, Level Up is from the video game industry, via the RPG games upon which so many games are based. According to Wikipedia:

    “‘Leveling up’ is used today in almost all RPG games to allow the playing character to increase in prowess, sometimes to god-like levels, in order to go on more difficult quests and face off more powerful monsters. Sometimes a level check is made before a character is allowed entry into an area or given a quest, in order to prevent a premature death of the said character at the hands (or claws) of superior enemies. Sometimes specialized levels in a wide array of skills are used to determine the character’s proficiency with different kinds of weapons, sorcery and larceny.”

    I spend too much time in front of the TV. I enjoy the blog. It’s been a long time since I was in Japan and it’s fun to see how the language has changed.

  6. Rush Says:

    not bad! teach me how do you made the blue rain? snow? on your blog? nice stories also…… have a nice day.


  7. deadhippo Says:

    While “level up” may be from a video game the bastard expression has been further bastardized in many ways, such as “skill up” and “career up”. If they would either study up or shut up we wouldn’t have to put up with their f#*k ups.