I realised the other day that one of the hardest things about returning to foreign countries (anywhere outside Japan) is going to be the language barrier.

I now speak a language that is incomprehensible to all but a tiny subsection of the world’s population; Japanglish, a language only understood by English-speakers who have spent a decent period of time in Japan.

English speakers who have never lived in Japan can’t understand it because of the large number of Japanese words and cultural references, and Japanese speakers can’t understand it because it relies largely on English grammar and badly bastardised Japanese.

For the most part, this language can only be learned through an extended exposure to Japanese, but there are a few basic rules that can be applied to your English which can help to leberu-uppu (level up) your Japanglish.

First, you must use “let’s” as often and as inappropriately as possible. Ideally it will be used with a noun (let’s Osaka!) and I like to use it with gerunds (let’s running!) and abstract nouns (let’s Christmas Merry!). It can also be used effectively with adjectives (let’s happy) and adverbs (let’s quickly!).

Second, replace as many verbs as possible with “enjoy”. You should never eat a cake, watch a movie or drink a beer. Instead, try to enjoy a cake, enjoy a movie and enjoy a beer. You can also use it in conjunction with gerunds and enjoy eating a cake, enjoy watching a movie and enjoy drinking a beer.

Third, learn the basics of katakana English (the art of Japanesifying English words), and apply them to whichever words you like. The simple rules are; insert extra vowels so that two consonant sounds never sit next to each other, and never finish a word with a consonant sound (‘n’ is the exception to these rules). For example, instead of eating at McDonalds, you should eat at “makudonarudo”.

Fourth, a small selection of adjectives will really pad out your Japanglish. I find that the most useful ones are “kawaii” (cute/ pretty), “oishii” (delicious), “genki” (in good health/ energetic), “nemui” (sleepy), “natsukashii” (making one nostalgic), “atsui” (hot), and “samui” (cold). Use them in the same way you would use English adjectives. “It’s so atsui today! I’m getting really nemui…” or “this song is so natsukashii”.

I encourage my friends and family back home to start following these basic steps in their everyday lives, so I’ll be able to actually have a conversation with you when I get home.

Or in other words, “lets enjoy Japanglish!”

Sometimes I really miss being a teacher.

Sometimes I really miss being a teacher.




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