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Thread: Characteristics of "Jengrish"

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Post Characteristics of "Jengrish"

    NB : This post is constantly edited to add new ideas later mentioned in this thread. - Main article here

    Japanese-English* is characterized by a set of common mistakes or uncommon use of English as spoken by the larger part of the Japanese. These include :

    - agglutination of several nouns (direct translation from long kanji compounds) instead of separating them by "of (the)" (eg. "company meeting attendance rate analysis", instead of "analysis of the attendance rate of company meetings").
    - absence or mistaken use of articles ("a" and "the")
    - use of nouns instead of adjectives (eg. "minus image" instead of "negative image").
    - mistaken use of "almost" + noun (eg. "almost Japanese" instead of "almost all Japanese")
    - excessive use of passive (e.g. "my haircut was changed" instead of "I changed my haircut")
    - use of Katakana English (see below)
    - the excessive use of "hope" instead of expect, wish, would like, or want.
    (e.g. "I hope to meet you tomorrow at 6pm if it is convenient for you").
    - excessive use of "play" and "enjoy" (see post #8 and #9).
    - excessive use of "popular" instead of "common" or "usual" (eg. "Is snowing popular in your country" ?)
    - confusion of words like 'country' and 'company'.
    -...

    There are many more, which I can't remember right now. Please help me define Japanese-English.

    ---------------
    *Japanese-English (=English as spoken by native Japanese-speakers) is distinct from Katakana English (=English words used in Japanese). The characteritsics of Katakana English include :

    - creation of words by combining existing English words (eg. "salaryman").
    - shortening of words (eg. "remokon" for "remote control", "pasokon" for "personal computer")
    Last edited by Maciamo; Mar 29, 2005 at 21:59.

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  2. #2
    Hullu RockLee's Avatar
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    hehe, the remokon sounds familiar ! When I was in Japan my gf her dad asked for the remokon, and I didn't get what he ment ^^'

    Also a lot of japanese mistakes are because they use the wrong time

    ex. I just come back home -> I just came back home
    My friends come to (place) -> My friends came to (place)

    this one is a classic...hear it all the time : i am going to go to bed instead of : I'm going to bed


    Or instant translations

    ex. I dont want to me show you -> I don't want to show myself to you
    ~ Parempi hullu kuin tylsä - Better crazy than boring ~
    http://www.fin-style.be/blog -> My Blog about Finland and other random thingies.

  3. #3
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockLee
    this one is a classic...hear it all the time : i am going to go to bed instead of : I'm going to bed
    Don't see the problem with that. "I am going to go to bed" indicates the intention of 'going to bed' (soon). Or maybe what you meant is that they say "I'm going to bed" when they should have used a future tense.

  4. #4
    Chukchi Salmon lexico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockLee
    this one is a classic...hear it all the time : i am going to go to bed instead of : I'm going to bed .
    My take on this example is that while the J-English example has the simple, and superficially redundant looking "present progressive" (no.2), RockLee's has the simple "near future, be -ing" form. The following three should have the approximate meanings of intention of a future action.
    1. I will go to bed.
    2. I (am going to) go to bed.
    3. I am going to bed.
    No. 3 is a bit unique in the nearness of future time. Is that what you were trying to say, that J-English tends to overuse pattern No. 2. and underuse No. 3.?
    Quote Originally Posted by RockLee
    "I dont want to me show you." -> "I don't want to show myself to you"
    This is interesting. A Japanese SOOV which should have had the English SVOO word order actually stopped at an incomplete transformation resulting in an SOVO hybrid syntax. Quite cute, and interesting piece of data.
    Last edited by lexico; Mar 16, 2005 at 21:54.
    Z: The fish in the water are happy.
    H: How do you know ? You're not fish.
    Z: How do you know I don't ? You're not me.
    H: True I am not you, and I cannot know. Likewise, I know you're not, therefore I know you don't.
    Z: You asked me how I knew implying you knew I knew. In fact I saw some fish, strolling down by the Hao River, all jolly and gay.

    --Zhuangzi

  5. #5
    Regular Member den4's Avatar
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    The favorite ones I always hear is the usage of "MY" in almost everything....

    common ones are:
    MyHome
    MyLoan
    MyCar
    MyHomeLoan
    MyBoom

    The lines that used to crack me up is when a salaryman or woman asked me "Where is your MyHome?" or "What kind of MyCar do you drive?" or "What is your MyBoom?" I still hear these in conversations and on the news reports...
    I know nothing...except the answer is 42. You know more than I do.

  6. #6
    Regular Member misa.j's Avatar
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    I get confused when to and not to use the particles in front of nouns; the and a. One time someone asked me what my maiden name meant, so I said "Under Mountains" which he didn't understand, my husband helped me by putting 'the' before mountains.
    I think a lot of Japanese people have a hard time with them.

    Jengrish I can think of are;
    -Progressive term in the middle of a sentence when they are talking in Japanese.

    -Japanese words and English words combined just randomly.

  7. #7
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by den4
    The favorite ones I always hear is the usage of "MY" in almost everything....
    Apparently it's the same in Thailand, where the taxi drivers usually asked me things like "where is your myhotel ?" They just think that "my hotel" is one word. I guessed the same happened in Japan after WWII and it stayed in the language. I have heard Japanese people saying "anata mo mycar who motteru ?", which translates as "do you also you my car ?" (instead of "your car").

  8. #8
    Go to shopping PopCulturePooka's Avatar
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    Adding 'to' before an 'ing form verb. Eg 'Go to shopping' or ' I went to fishing'. That used to drive me INSANE!

    Answering 'How are you?' with only a dead pan 'How are you?'.

    Overuse of the word 'enjoy' in much the same way Mac mentioned 'wish'. Eg... 'Last i night I enjoyed drinking' or 'In Hawaii you can enjoy shopping'. It just doesn't sound antural. I found this was a problem almost exclusive to older men. Other was overused words include gorgeous and delicious.

  9. #9
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FirstHousePooka
    Adding 'to' before an 'ing form verb. Eg 'Go to shopping' or ' I went to fishing'. That used to drive me INSANE!
    Good point.

    Overuse of the word 'enjoy' in much the same way Mac mentioned 'wish'. Eg... 'Last i night I enjoyed drinking' or 'In Hawaii you can enjoy shopping'.
    And overuse of the word "play". E.g. "Last weekend I played skiing" "When I was in highschool I pliked playing with girls" or "Last night I played with my coworkers". I always want to ask them what game they played, but that's an obvious direct translation of "asobu", which means "have fun", "do (some sports)", "play (some games)", "go out (with friends)", or "have sex". Some "nampa" (playboys) just ask girls in the street "isshoni asobimashou ka?", so when I hear some Japanese say they "played with their coworkers last night", it makes me picture things I shouldn't.

  10. #10
    Go to shopping PopCulturePooka's Avatar
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    Haha even worse when a high school girl says it.

    Or asks ever so innocently 'Will you play with me?' while wearing her ever so small skirt.

    BAD SENSEI!

  11. #11
    I jump to conclusions mad pierrot's Avatar
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    And overuse of the word "play". E.g. "Last weekend I played skiing" "When I was in highschool I pliked playing with girls" or "Last night I played with my coworkers". I always want to ask them what game they played, but that's an obvious direct translation of "asobu", which means "have fun", "do (some sports)", "play (some games)", "go out (with friends)", or "have sex". Some "nampa" (playboys) just ask girls in the street "isshoni asobimashou ka?", so when I hear some Japanese say they "played with their coworkers last night", it makes me picture things I shouldn't.
    The "play" ones really make me laugh....

    A cute tidbits from my students.....

    So, I want to America the future. Ž„‚͏«—ˆAƒAƒƒŠƒJ‚ɍs‚«‚½‚¢‚Å‚·B


  12. #12
    Regular Member cicatriz esp's Avatar
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    The "almost" error is quite common. Eg, "almost Americans own guns?", when they mean "almost all Americans own guns?".

  13. #13
    Junior Member treeves's Avatar
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    Japanese speakers seem to frequently translate their particles (like wa) into English, leading to sentences like "Regarding the new product, it is very pure.", rather than just saying "The new product is very pure.", as a native English speaker would.

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    Post

    Here are parts of an e-mail I just received from my fiance.

    "How's it going,Mike?
    I just got up,I'm dayoff today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow too!!! SU GO I ne!!!...She is going to marry to her boyfriend in the near future...Before that, Miya and I go to Saori's house."

    The first bold is almost like telling me that she is a dayoff.

    And the second bold's (to) is clearly a translation of (ni). A partical, that can be left out.

    Finally, the third bold in the syntax; it should say, "Miya and I will be going to Saori's house."

    I always have to correct her on these type of errors. It's not annoying though. I guess I'm just use to it. At least she doesn't take it bad, when I correct her. For a person that has been studying English for 7 years now, I say is doing very well. But since she has met me, she has been learning better English and a lot of the slang form of words, that she will never understand when she goes to America. I'm happy for her.
    I Listened Too:

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    I have an idea that the "let's *****ing/ion with me" comes from the common use of "shimashou"? It is?

  16. #16
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    Stevie Wonder is playing his first gig in Tokyo and the place is absolutely packed to the rafters. To break the ice with this new audience, Stevie asks if anyone has a request they would like him to play.

    A little old Japanese man jumps out of his seat in the first row and shouts at the top of his voice "Do a Jazz chord! Do a jazz chord!"

    Amazed that this guy knows about the jazz influences in Stevie's varied career, the blind impresario starts to play an E minor scale and then goes into a difficult jazz melody for about 10 minutes. When he finishes the whole place goes wild.

    The little old man jumps up again and shouts "No, no, do a Jazz chord, do a Jazz chord".

    A bit pissed off by this, Stevie, being the professional that he is, dives straight into a jazz improvisation with his band around the B flat minor chord and really tears the place apart. The crowd goes wild with this impromptu show of his technical expertise.

    The little old man jumps up again. "No, no. Do a Jazz chord, do a jazz chord!"

    Well and truly pissed off that this little guy doesn't seem to appreciate his playing ability. Stevie says to him from the stage "OK smart ***. You get up here and do it!"

    The little old man climbs up onto the stage, takes hold of the mike and starts to sing .....

    "A jazz chord... to say... a ruv you..."

  17. #17
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    That reminds me of the "Eric Crapton" cd at engrish.com...

    I don't know if Japanese do this but I've noticed a lot of EFL speakers say "I'm interesting" when they mean "I'm interested in".

    Also, it's common to say the wrong personal pronoun (she when you mean he and he when you mean she) but I think that's just something you do while speaking and not so much when you write something. I do it sometimes too I have difficulties with /s/ sounds (s vs. sh) sometimes for some reason... Maybe it's because Finnish doesn't have a 'sh' sound (or atleast i can't think of any non-loan words that have it).
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by miu
    Maybe it's because Finnish doesn't have a 'sh' sound (or atleast i can't think of any non-loan words that have it).
    How about the sound that's made when your reindeer gets a flat tire.

  19. #19
    I jump to conclusions mad pierrot's Avatar
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    The little old man climbs up onto the stage, takes hold of the mike and starts to sing .....

    "A jazz chord... to say... a ruv you..."

    funny...

  20. #20
    Chukchi Salmon lexico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bramicus
    "A jazz chord... to say... a ruv you..."
    That's great stuff, Bramicus. So how about trying the ultra Japanified versions ?

    I rub you
    or
    I rob you

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by den4
    The favorite ones I always hear is the usage of "MY" in almost everything....

    ...

    The lines that used to crack me up is when a salaryman or woman asked me "Where is your MyHome?" or "What kind of MyCar do you drive?" or "What is your MyBoom?" I still hear these in conversations and on the news reports...
    I'm curious to know where you live, as in all the time I've lived in Japan I've never heard this once. Maybe it's a regional thing, or the product of a particular schooling?

    One thing I certainly see frequently is the use of "Let's" usually followed by a string of some excessively descriptive prose (often involving the some varation on 'enjoy') and finished off with an exclamation point. This is particularly common in print advertising and on product packaging.

    e.g.

    Let's enjoy delicious food!
    Let's make good friends and enjoy social conversation!
    Let's enjoy the exciting times in Rusutsu amusement park!

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