Here is a test for your English proficiency:

  • High touch (ハイタッチ)
  • Sharp pencil (シャープペンシル)
  • Baby car (ベビーカー)
  • Skinship (スキンシップ)
  • Salary man (サラリーマン)

Hitouch

These are a few examples of Japanese words that Japanese people believe of English-origin. Technically, their origin is English, but no English speakers would understand their true meaning as they are used with a totally different one in Japanese.

In any language, foreign words generally add a cool and sophisticated/interesting touch to the ordinary/boring/regular use of the native language. In English, French or Spanish commonly takes this role, while in Japanese, English is the first choice.

Sometimes, the original meaning or usage is not kept correctly and new words are created. Some trend makers and/or regular young people start to use those words, trying to sound cool and fashionable. The neologisms are then spread out to everyone’s vocabulary until they eventually settle down with the creation of new entries in the dictionary.

These Japanese words supposed-to-be-originated in English are called “Wasei-eigo 和製英語 (‘English’ word made in Japan)”. As they are widely used under the disguise of true English words, speakers of English can be puzzled to hear them. When you encounter such “funny” English, take it as a challenge for your English ability!

Answers: 1) High five, 2) Mechanical pencil, 3) Baby Stroller, 4) Close contact/touch (ex. between mom and baby), 5) Office worker