Category Archives: JAPANESE

Can you understand Japanese English?

(My Home)This is a phenomenon that happens all over the non-native English speaking world, in many varieties. Of course there are tons of words loaned to the English language that are pronounced or used incorrectly, for example, the way we pronounce karaoke or tsunami, anyone? (Can we call that English Japanese?)There are a handful of English words you’ll see or hear in Japan that aren’t Engrish. They are English words, but the way they are used here is sometimes a little different. These range from tons of ‘katakana English’ loan words like ‘teburu’ for a western table and less recognizable words like ‘pi-shi-‘ or PC (for personal computer) to words and phrases we use like, “Let’s go!”Here are just a few examples of Japanese English I hear often, and in these cases I’m under the impression that Japanese people think they are correctly using English integrated into their language.Don’t mindIn English this phase is missing a subject, assumed to be “I” as in, “I don’t mind.” This is not what Japanese people are going for exactly when they use this phrase. The meaning is more like, ‘never mind’ or ‘don’t worry about it.'(Pronunciation is more like, ‘done mine, done mine.’)Come onI first heard this in a Japanese junior high classroom as a student beckoned me to help with his handout. Within the context I completely understood that he meant as, ‘Come here (please),’ but didn’t realize until later that ‘come on’ is used in this way in Japan. Come on can have a lot of meanings in English, from the phrasal verb meaning to flirt with someone, to expressing frustration when the other team scores a goal.Said in a sort of friendly and inviting way, as if to say, ‘why don’t you join me!’ Ironically, one of the meanings of …continue reading


10 minute-a-day Japanese Lesson-4

Hi everyone.

Hope you all are having a great weekend. Sorry this lesson is long over due. Hope you are ready for my next 10 minute-a-day lesson.

Photo from mabahamo on

Today’s topic is all about wishing birthdays. I have covered this topic in the past regarding some of the expressions about wishing someone a birthday in Japanese. But, what about wishing someone happy belated birthday? Unfortunately, we are all busy, and this happens every now and then. Here are some of the expressions or phrases you would want to know when you realize you are a bit late on wishing someone a happy birthday…!

1. Kinou tanjo bi datta yone?

==> Yesterday was your birthday, wasn’t it?

きのう たんじょうび だったよね?

昨日 誕生日 だったよね。

2. Wasure chatte gomen ne!

==>I am really sorry, I forgot!

わすれちゃって ごめんね。

忘れちゃって ごめんね。

3. Okurechatta kedo tanjo bi omedetou!

==>Happy Belated Birthday!

おくれちゃったけど たんじょうび おめでとう!

遅れちゃったけど 誕生日 おめでとう!

4. Sutekina tanjo bi datta kototo omoimasu!

==>Hope you had a wonderful birthday!

すてきな たんじょうび だったことと おもいます。

素敵な 誕生日 だった ことと 思います。

5. Ichinichi okurete shimattakedo otan jo bi omedeto!

==>Sorry I am one day late. Happy Belated Birthday!

いちにち おくれてしまったけど おたんじょうび おめでとう。

一日 遅れて しまったけど お誕生日 おめでとう。

6. Kyo ga tanjo bi dato omottemashita. Honto ni gomenne.

==>I thought today was your birthday. I am really sorry.

きょうが たんじょうび だと おもってました。 ほんとうに ごめんね。

今日が 誕生日 だと 思ってました。 本当に ごめんね。

7. Anatano taisetsuna hi o wasurete shimatte gomen nasai.

==>I am sorry for forgetting such a special day for you.

あなたの とくべつな ひを わすれて しまって ごめんなさい。

あなたの 特別な 日を 忘れて しまって ごめんなさい。

8. Anatano yume ya negaigotoga kanaimasuyo-ni.

==>May all your dreams and desires come true.

あなたの ゆめや ねがいごとが かないますように。

あなたの 夢や 願い事が かないますように。

Vocabulary Lesson

Tanjo bi: birthday (誕生日、たんじょうび)

Wasureru: to forget (忘れる、わすれる)

Gomenne:I am sorry. (ごめんね)

Tanjo bi omedetou!: Happy Birthday (誕生日おめでとう、たんじょうび おめでとう)

Sutekina: wonderful (素敵な、すてきな)

Okureru: late (遅れる、おくれる)

Honto ni: really (本当に、ほんとうに)

Yume:dream (夢、 ゆめ)

Negaigoto: desires (願い事、ねがいごと)

Special: tokubetsuna (特別な、とくべつな)

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Living In Japan Makes You Fluent In Japanese

What would I have like to have known before I arrived in Japan? Well…There’s this crazy idea floating around – kind of like when you step in dog poop and the smell lingers with you all day… It’s that nasty. The idea is that living in Japan magically gives you fluency in Japanese. Sorry to burst your bubble (how is it in there with the rainbows and unicorns?), but no, it doesn’t. Shall I lecture you about why?No expectations. Japanese people don’t expect you to speak Japanese. In fact, sometimes they are disappointed when you do! So, gestures and single words are enough to survive in daily life. Why study more? A quick look at my weekday routine; walk to the station, catch the train (buy my ticket at a machine), stop at the convenience store on the walk to work, teach all day in English, converse all day in English with my colleagues (as per the schools request to maintain an ‘all English’ teacher), walk to the station, catch the train (buy my ticket on the train because it’s a small stop with no machine), stop by the supermarket on my walk home, arrive home to my fellow foreign husband with whom I speak English. Now not everyone will live like this, but how many times do I get to use Japanese in a day? I say good morning to my local convenience store staff and comment on the weather, buy my return train ticket from the conductor on the train, and say good evening and again comment on the weather to the supermarket staff. That’s it. Each of these conversations can be avoided or completed with minimal Japanese. I have to really push myself to use Japanese even though I live in Japan. How do I learn anything? …continue reading