The modern Japanese language includes more and more words imported from English and other language families. Some of these are direct arrivals, such as konpyūta (コンピュータ, “computer”), while others end up in abbreviated forms, as with sutaba (スタバ , short for “Starbucks”).
A few of the words are portmanteau that merge Japanese and English together; the “oke” part of karaoke comes from the English word “orchestra.” There is also a fourth category of words known as wasei-eigo, English-looking words that were invented from scratch in Japan. One of the most well-known is “skinship,” a word that describes physical contact between friends or family members.
These words, while just a tiny portion of the Japanese language, are growing in number every year. And now you have a chance to nominate one of them as the official English word for Japan for 2022. The contest is sponsored by 日本の英語を考える会, the Association for the Betterment of Public English in Japan, a group that works with government agencies in Japan to improve the quality of English in public signage and official publications.
This year is the second annual Word of the Year contest. You can vote for your favorite word in one of two categories.
- 和製英語 (wasei-eigo) – Click here to submit your favorite English word originally invented in Japan. These would be terms that native English speakers wouldn’t recognize, like the “skinship” example above.
- 通じない英語 (tsūjinai-eigo) – Click here to let them know about the best misused or misunderstood English term in 2022. If you saw a T-shirt that made you laugh, this is the link for you.
Each link above takes you to a Twitter page; click the large marshmallow image in the tweet to visit the nomination page. All of the content is in Japanese, but if you scroll down just after the main page heading, you will find a comment-entry box. Type in your nomination and click the red Submit (おくる) button.
Nominations run through the end of the year. You can read the contest announcement at this link (in Japanese). You can also read the results of last year’s contest (in English) on the association’s web site.
[Image Credits: choco-choco/photo-ac.com]