Nihonglish

Bridging languages can be problematic. We’ve all seen Engrish. Things get lost in translation. And as a college student learning Japanese, I find communicating somewhat difficult.

As a result, I’ve been resorting to something my group has coined “Nihonglish,” a portmanteau of nihongo (日本語、meaning Japanese) and, obviously, English. It looks kind of like this:

And I’ve had to communicate quite a lot. I mentioned it before: here in Sapporo, we’re doing a short-term program with a local university. On most weekdays we meet up with various Japanese college students to hang out and speak Japanese with them. It’s a great experience and really good for practice—but definitely hit the language barrier.

Luckily for us, most Japanese kids start learning English in middle school, so most of our college kids are able to understand a bit of English. I also have a habit of gesturing wildly, which usually helps me get my point across. However, my vocabulary is extremely limited. Heck, I don’t even know the word for “to open:”

(As an explanation to those who don’t know Japanese: “Janai” is a common suffix used to make adjectives negative. For example, kirei (clean) turns into kireijanai (not clean))

I’ve even starting doing it while talking to my fellow Americans.

My group has taken it to the point of coming up with our own nihongo slang. For example, a common phrase in Japanese is daijoubu (大丈夫, meaning are you okay? Or, I’m okay.) Except we decided to shorten it to

Or even worse,

Which is all a bit incomprehensible to our conversation partners. But, hey. At least we’re trying. Anyway, even our sensei fell victim to the Nihonglish trap:

 But I feel as though I’ve improved, though only a bit. I’ll keep trying my best!

 

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