Japanese English Part 2



Almost every week while teaching, I come across some Japanese English. This week, one of those words was ストーブ and another was マフラー. Let’s start with the word ストーブ. Japanese refer to this word meaning a kerosene heater used to heat up a room. They sometimes put a kettle on top of it to keep moisture in the air. In the west, when we hear the word “stove”, we automatically think of something to cook on. They are similar sounding words so you can see why the two meanings get confused. The next word “マフラー” has a funny story to go with it. When I first started teaching in Japan, a lot of Japanese English words alluded me, meaning I had no idea what they meant. I could read katakana but didn’t really know the actual meanings or uses of the words. So one day, I asked my student about her weekend. She said she went shopping and bought a “muffler”. To that I replied “Oh, was your car broken?” She looked confused. To any native English speaker, a muffler is the back part of the car where the smoke comes out. I explained this and she said “No, I bought a muffler to go around my neck to stay warm.” Then it dawned on me that a “マフラー” was a Japanese English word for a winter scarf. We both laughed and learned how to say scarf in each other’s language.