Saturday, November 6, 2010
Ok, this post is actually not about misuse of English here in Japan (a post on that subject you can find here), but on the invention of new words in English in Japan that end up only existing here in Japan.
When Mrs. Sunshine was brought back to the old country and a question came up from some of my Swedish relatives whether she was planning to buy something in particular at one tourist destination we were planning to go to. In her regular basically flawless English she answered "Well, I don't want to buy anything big, but maybe an "eco-bag" or something small like that". This was met with considerable confusion until I realized that "eco-bag" is not a generally accepted word in the English vocabulary and could explain that she meant reusable shopping bags.
The term "eco-bag" is (as far as I know) invented in Japan and means a reusable bag used for grocery shopping and the "ecology" part comes from that no disposable plastic bags is needed and thus is more environmentally friendly. From an English language perspective, I think the word is perfectly reasonable, but deceptive... I'm sure there are plenty of more examples out there, but none come to mind at the moment.