Tricky Japanglish Words often used on Business Occasion

You learnt how to speak Japanese and after some practices you may have realized that there are many English words integrated into daily conversation in Japanese. However, perhaps such words may have already confused you how to understand it.

So, today’s topic is Japanglish words you should know for working in Japan. What is a Japanglish word? It is English words that are adapted into the Japanese language. So as I mentioned above, Japanlish may confuse you both in daily conversations and business scenes.

That is why, we’d like to introduce you most important and most used Japanese English words by focusing on those used on business occasions. We have picked up words that could easily make misunderstanding or make you wonder what that means. Of course, you will learn both local meanings and original meanings in English.

If you want to learn these words in video:

Japanglish that are often used but have different meaning than the original English words

クレーム / Complaint

クレーム = Claim is used as a complaint in Japan. Original meaning of claim is to demand as a right. Example sentences how we use this Japanglish on business occasion.

There were many complaints from customers this month.

Multiple distributors have the same complaints about the product.

アドレス / email address

We say just address (アドレス) instead of email address. I don’t have to explain what address originally means. So, when Japanese people ask you about your address (アドレス), then give them your email address. If we want to know your address in terms of where you live, then we will ask you “住所(じゅうしょ)” in Japanese.

アドレス(address)→ email address
住所                     → address (where you live)

サラリーマン / Office worker

When we use salaryman, we mean people like “white-color worker”, “nine-to-fiver” or “office worker”. This Japanglish was created as office workers are usually getting salary every month. So, we made up a new word that is hardly understood by foreigner.

I want to quit the office worker someday.

アルバイト・パート / part-time job

We call par-time worker as アルバイト „Arbeit“ which comes from the german word for „work“. In Japan, アルバイト is meant to be part-time job.

It’s probably more efficient to hire a part-time job.

アンケート / enquête

When Japanese people say アンケート / enquête, they mean a survey or questionnaire. The word “enquête” comes from French. But we think it is an English word.

We need statistical data, so let’s implement an online survey on the web!

ベテラン / experienced person

In the U.S.A veteran means someone who went to military in the past. We call someone who has lots of experience in something ベテラン „veteran”

He is an experienced technician.

スキルアップ / improve one’s skill

“Skill up” is one of the typical Japanglish. When we use it the meaning is to improve one’s skill.

I hate this job, but I continue to improve my skills.

ワンパターン / manneristic

One pattern is used by Japanese people when something is manneristic, always the same and never changed.

The food he cooks is always the same.

プラスアルファ / additional value

Maybe you could understand if it is “plus x” instead of „plus alpha“. There is a theory that plus x is misunderstood by us and plus alpha is used. Anyway we use this word as additional value or extra.

We can’t beat our competitors without additional value to this feature.

ノルマ / quota

The word „ノルマ“ comes from Russian language. And you can understand this as quota. So, synonym could be “target”.

We have met the quota for this month!
(We achieved the target for this month!)

マンツーマン / one on one

Japanglish man-to-man is used for one-on-one. So, be careful if we say man-to-man in Japanese. The original meaning is like face-to-face. When you speak with somebody frankly, and open up to each other.

Teach him one on one.

メリット・デメリット / advantage, disadvantage

Merit & demerit have different meaning in Japanese from original meaning “virtue” and “defect”. We use them in terms of advantage and disadvantage.

What are the benefits of bringing this product by air? Considering the cost, sea shipment is enough.

There are too many disadvantages to allow this investment. Because the company can’t afford that much.

Abbreviated English words

We’d also like to introduced some English words that are abbreviated when we use them in Japanese conversation. They must be hard for you to know what are what these words are abbreviated from. Let’s check them out.

アポ / appointment

Could you get an appointment with the CEO? If it doesn’t work, just send him the requirements by email.

I am busy with appointments in the morning. The best timing for the meeting would be after 14:00.

インフレ / inflation

Even if monetary easing was carried out as an inflation measure, banks remained cautious and refrained from investing, resulting in inflation not as expected.

デフレ / deflation

It is expected that the declining population will reduce the demand of the whole country and cause deflation, but there is the opposite opinion.

パワハラ / power harrasment (Workplace Bullying)

Abbreviation of „Power harrasment“ is パワハラ which means the abuse of authority. Problem regarding パワハラ is getting serious in Japan because the hierarchy is really strong there which cause that it is difficult for subordinate to say „no“ to his boss.

An employee who was forced to work long hours and power harassment from his boss committed suicide.

セクハラ / sexual harrasment

This is the same type of abbreviation as power harrasment. And the meaning is also the same as English. Sexually abusive words, stereotype is being used by elderly men to younger women in workplaces etc.

The number of sexual harassment consultations received by the institute in FY2014 was 11,289, of which about 60% (6,725) were from female workers.

リストラ / lay off

The word „リストラ“ originally comes from restructuring. The meaning of restructuring includes not only laying off, but also more wide measures to restructure a company. In Japan, if we say リストラ, it means the company lays off one ore several workers.

To be honest, there are people around me who have been laid off, but I’m grateful that they haven’t been laid me off yet.

If you want to know more about business phrases for business in Japanese:

Japanese Business Phrases for Intermediate Learners
Useful Japanese business phrases – quick guide for work

Yuki Nagahori
BA in German / Japan Country Manager at editorial company → Sales → currently sales planner based in Hamburg, Germany