Japanglish Katakana Words

Japanglish Katakana Words

Minasan Konnichiwa!

Today’s YT Live lesson topic was “Japanglish Katakana Words”.
Many Japanese think that the origin of the majority Katakana words are English, but it’s not always true.
It could be French, German, Spanish or even just “made up” made-in-Japan Katakana words.

So you might be confused when you hear the Japanese speak such Katakana words with confidence.
Let’s check out the common Japanglish Katakana words!


What Katakana is used for?

There are three different letters are used in Japanese writing system, Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. (ひらがな、カタカナ and 漢字)
Plus, Roma-ji (roman alphabet) is used commonly.

Hiragana letters and Katakana letters are corresponded and each character pronounce exactly the same.

e.g. あ and ア are both pronounce “a”

However, the usage for each letter is different.
Katakana is mainly used for the foreign words, such as コーヒー (coffee), テレビ (Television), etc.
Also, for the sound or emotional words, like onomatopoeia and mimetic words.
e.g.  バンバン (bang-bang), ドキドキ (thump-thump), etc.

Katakana words with foreign origin

  • ライト raito (light)
  • ペン  pen  (pen)
  • デスク  desuku  (desk)
  • ホテル  hoteru  (hotel)
  • マクドナルド   makudonarudo  (McDonald’s)
  • ズボン  zubon (trouser, pants) – French “jupon”
  • パン  pan (bread) – Spanish  “pan”
  • ピエロ  piero (clown) – French “pierror”
  • アルバイト  arubaito (part-time job) – German “arbeit” =job
  • ノルマ  noruma (quota) – Russian “norm”

Katakana words that sounds very different from the original foreign words

  • クレーム  kureemu  (claim) = complaint
  • サイン  sain (sign) = signature
  • ジョッキ  jokki (??) = beer mag
  • ウイルス  uirusu (virus)
  • ラジオ  rajio (radio)
  • シール  shiiru (seal) = sticker
  • メイク meiku (make) = make up
  • フライドポテト furaidopoteto (fried potato) = french fries

Katakana words with short form

  • パソコン  pasokon (personal computer)
  • マスコミ masukomi (mass communication) = mass media
  • スマホ  sumaho (smart phone)
  • パトカー  patokaa (patrol car) = police car

Katakana words with different meaning from the original foreign words

  • マンション manshion (mansion) = apartment
  • スナック  sunakku (snack) = snack, snack bar
  • スマート  smaato (smart) = smart, slim
  • ハンドル  handoru (handle) = handle, steering wheel (for car)
  • ヒップ    hippu (hip) = bottom, buttocks

Made-in-Japan “foreign words alike” Katakana words

  • コンセント konsento (??) = plug socket
  • トランプ   toranpu (trump) = playing cards
  • バイキング  baikingu (viking) = buffet (from “smorgasbord”)
  • ホッチキス  hocchikisu (??) = stapler
  • アンケート  ankeeto (enquête (French)) = questionnaire, survey
  • レントゲン  rentogen (from German physicist’s name: Roentgen) = X-ray
  • 電子(でんし)レンジ  denshi renji (electronic range) = microwave


Please check the full explanation in the lesson video 🤗

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