The Japanese language has, similar to a plethora of other languages, adopted and amended various non-native words and adapted them to fit its standard pronunciations. Additionally, Japanese is based on (Mandarin) Chinese, as much of Korean is too (that should shut the Sinophiles up for a bit). Here are a few dainty examples of the aforementioned (read: boring) sentences: Library, in Chinese-图书馆 tushuguan (for some reason, the first character doesn’t appear on my computer), in Japanese- 図書館 toshokan and finally in Korean- 도서관 doseogwan. Each of those three characters derives from traditional Chinese, written 圖書館 . The most common way to say “clown” in Japanese is ピエロ piero, stemming from the French word pierrot. Any guesses as to how “bread” is termed? パン pan, originating in Portugal as pão. Don’t fret, silly ol’ English had its way with Japanese too; カンニングペーパー kanningu peepaa, coming from “cunning paper,” a tongue-in-jowl way of saying “crib sheet,” or” cheat sheet.” (This is getting a bit esoteric. I’ll throw in some good stuff in a minute, so just hang loose blood)
Though, I think Japan has gone a bit overboard with their adoption of English. I’d venture a guess that you can nudge an appropriate response out of a Tokyoite or a Fukuokan (Fukuoker?) merely by exaggerating a Japanese accent while speaking English. Excuse me, Asadachi san, I would like small change for the pancake juice in the vending machine.
何 (なに nani) What? Ai oo-do raiku sumo-ru cheenji foa za… (わかりました wakarimashita) I understand. Let’s practice: Your ticket to Japan, is it wan-ooey or raundo torippu? Would you like hurenchi huraizu with your hanbaagaa? Can I get my tsuna ro-ru made extra supaishii?
We haven’t gotten to the weirdness yet. The above paragraph might have taught you, to just GUESS in English what you want to say. But what if you came across something in a language you speak that made you immediately questioned your faculty in it? Well, then it must either be a t-shirt in China or anything in Japan…
I’m not sure if the above would be classified as engrish, (if they weren’t going for “like an edison,” what were they after?), but if you’ve been to/are in Japan and have also spotted unusual occurrences of English/another language that aren’t just bad translations, please feel free to share below.