Did you know English words are used in Japanese business exchanges? Today, we’re going to look at the 5 most common.
|サラリーマン||Salaryman||A white-collared worker|
|ダブルブッキング||Daburu bukkingu||Double booking|
Japanese is a unique language that has 3 different writing systems. One of them is called katakana and is mostly used for foreign language loan words. For example, ハンバーガー (hanbaagaa) for “hamburger” or バスケットボール (basuketto booru) for “basketball.” The reason for using words from other languages varies. Sometimes it’s a food, sport, or something else imported from another country. Sometimes the Japanese think that foreign loan words sound cool or breathe new life into everyday concepts. Whatever the reason, Katakana English is used in a variety of situations, including business settings. Below are 5 commonly used loan words in Japanese businesses.
- 1 5 Common English Words Used in Japanese Business
- 2 Study in Japan?
5 Common English Words Used in Japanese Business
1. サラリーマン Salaryman – A white-collared worker
Of all of the Japanese-English business words, this is the most commonly known outside of Japan. Contrary to the Japanese perception of “salaryman” connoting a man with a stable job, we’re used to it in a more comedic context. The typical image we get of a salaryman is a Japanese man passed out drunk on the train while still wearing his suit and tie. Basically, anything involving Japanese men in suits doing Japanese things evokes the word salaryman in our minds.
There are many types of careers in Japan, but since World War II the most highly regarded jobs have been those that involve stability. It doesn’t matter what kind of job it is, as long as a man works at a well-known company, receives a stable monthly income, and is guaranteed life employment with incremental raises along the way, he is seen as the ideal son to his family and ideal husband to potential mates. The details of the work mean almost nothing. His job could be in the copy room making copies his entire career. It doesn’t matter. As long as it involves a big company, lifetime employment, and wearing suits to work, he’s living the sweet life!
2. クレーム Claim – Complaint
The Japanese word in the dictionary for “complaint” is technically 文句 (monku) or 苦情 (kujou), but it’s more common to use the katakana equivalent “claim.”
For example, if a customer is unhappy with a service or product, they may call the company and make a “claim.”
CUSTOMER: Sumimasen desu ga, intanetto wa mai-nichi osoi kara claim shitai desu. (Excuse me, but my internet is slow every day, so I want to make a complaint.)
Notice that the katakana “claim” is a noun, and in order to make it a verb—i.e. “to make a complaint”—you attach “suru” (“to do”) at the end. The example says “claim shitai,” which is “claim suru” with the suru conjugated to shitai (want to do).
I’m not sure why the Japanese use “claim” instead of the more accurate English word “complaint.” However, if I were to make a guess, I’d say that the words monku and kujou sound a bit harsh to the Japanese, so in order to boost worker morale they wanted to switch it up a bit by using a word in a different language. “Complaint” was probably too difficult to say for the average person, so they opted for “claim”—which doesn’t have the same meaning but was probably good enough.
3. ダブルブッキング Daburu bukkingu – Double booking
This one is pretty straightforward and easy to remember because it’s identical to the English meaning. If someone or something is double-booked for a time slot, they have been double-booked. Be that as it may, the -ing doesn’t change within the katakana phrase, so I guess it’s better to say that they’ve been “double-booking-ed!”
CO-WORKER 1: Mitsubishi no kyaku wa ichi-ji kara ni-ji made kaigi-shitsu ni imasu kedo, kaigi-shitsu wa ichi-ji kara yoyaku sareteimasu. (The Mitsubishi clients will be in the meeting room from 1pm to 2pm, but the meeting room has been reserved for 1pm.)
CO-WORKER 2: Ja, yotei ga double booking shite imasu ne. (I guess we’ve double-booked them.)
[CO-WORKER 1: 三菱の客は１時から２時まで会議室にいますけど、会議室は１時から予約されています。
CO-WORKER 2: じゃ、予定がダブルブッキングしていますね。]
4. コスパ Kosupa – Cost-performance ratio
Sometimes a foreign loan word is a mouthful to say for the Japanese, so they often take two words and smash them together, omitting a few letters and syllables in the process. Kosupa is a word made by combining the katakana English words “cost” and “performance.” To make the word kosupa they remove the “t” in “cost” and the “-formace” in “performance” to get something like “cos-per.” This is how they get the word kosupa.
Something that has good kosupa is something that has a value equal to or greater than its cost. If something is expensive but not very good, it would have bad kosupa.
EMPLOYEE: Ankeeto no kekka wa sukoshi Australia no gyuu no hou ga America no gyuu yori oishii kedo, yunuu suru no wa America no gyuu no hou ga kekkou yasui desu. (The result of our survey says that Australian beef is slightly more delicious than American beef, but American beef is much cheaper to import.)
BOSS: Ja, aji ga daitai onaji dakara America no hou ga yappari kosupa da yo ne. (Well, the taste is mostly the same, so American is more cost-efficient.)
5. リストラ Risutora – Downsizing/Layoff/Fire
Unfortunately, the time may come where you or someone you know may receive the dreaded pink slip.
Risutora is a shortened version of the word “restructuring.” The meaning is basically the same as the English on the surface. If HR brings up the word risutora with you, they are indeed planning on restructuring the company. Perhaps the company’s stock has fallen, and they need to downsize. Or it could be just that you’re not doing your job well enough, and they’d like to hire someone else. Rest assured risutora is mostly a euphemism that someone is about to lose their job.
Risutora is a noun by itself. It can be turned into a verb—”to fire/lay off”—by adding suru. If you have been fired/laid off, suru is conjugated to sareta (to have been fired/laid off).
Ore wa risutora sareta! (I have been fired!)
But these are just a few English words and phrases used in Japanese business settings. You’d be surprised just how much English has edged its way into the Japanese business vernacular. Next time you speak to a Japanese person, ask them about these phrases, and they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about!