related topics
{language, word, form}
{film, series, show}
{@card@, make, design}
{food, make, wine}
{system, computer, user}
{company, market, business}
{album, band, music}
{line, north, south}
{government, party, election}

Engrish refers to unusual English originating in East Asian countries. The term itself satirises the frequent habit of Japanese people to confuse the English phonemes "R" with "L", since the Japanese language has one alveolar consonant in place of both. The word is not used in Japan, as the actual Japanese word for the English language is eigo (wikt:英語).

While the term may refer to spoken English, it is more often used to describe written English. Engrish can be found in many places, including signs, menus, and advertisements. Terms such as Japanglish, Japlish or Janglish for Japan, Konglish for Korea, Singlish for Singapore, and Chinglish for China are sometimes used as well.


Roots of the phenomenon

In Japanese Engrish, it is argued that there are two contributing factors. First is the great difference between Japanese and English. Japanese word order, the frequent omission of subjects in Japanese, the absence of articles, as well as difficulties in distinguishing l and r all contribute to substantial problems using English effectively.[1] Indeed, Japanese have tended to score comparatively poorly on international tests of English.[2] The second factor has been the use of English for "decorative" or "design" rather than functional purposes.[3] That is, for Japanese consumption, not for English speakers per se, and as a way of appearing "smart, sophisticated and modern".[4] Indeed, it is claimed that in such decorative English "there is often no attempt to try to get it right, nor do the vast majority of the Japanese population . . . ever attempt to read the English design element in question . . . There is therefore less emphasis on spell checking and grammatical accuracy."[5]

Popular culture

Engrish features prominently in Japanese pop culture. Many popular Japanese songs and television-show themes feature disjointed phrases in English amongst the otherwise Japanese lyrics. Japanese marketing firms helped to create this popularity, and have subsequently created an enormous array of advertisements, products, and clothing marked with English phrases that seem highly amusing or inexplicably bizarre to those proficient in English. These new Engrish terms are generally short-lived, as they are used more for fashion than meaning.

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