Are there complaints about too many English words in Japanese?

When I look at a japanese website, I see a lot of English words written in katakana, especially (but not only) in menu bars. Those are not only used for technical terms, but also for normal words having a simple Japanese equivalent like

  • ヘルプ
  • メインページ
  • ツール
  • トーク
    In Japanese texts I often encounter English words for which even I know the Japanese translation. So I wonder whether there are people in Japan who complain about too much English in Japanese?

In Germany for example especially business people use English words like Feedback, Meeting, canceln, downloaden, etc. This mix of languages is called denglisch (deutsch + englisch). So is there a movement against Jenglish in Japan?

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Not an answer to your question but is there a movement against it in Germany? I know that in Sweden we LOVE English so there is no sense of resistance. For example, I use the English “offensive” more than the Swedish word (can’t even remember it now).

I guess you could find a rare few from older generations who are not so into it though.
The reason I write this is because I would assume that it’s the same in Japan but I have no idea so…

This video comes to mind:

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I was gonna post that too, but I was too busy rewatching it first. :laughing:

(RIP 2020)

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It’s “åffensive”

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There is an organization for the Preservation of the German language, though I wouldn’t call them very mainstream. It’s also a bit of a meme to do word by word translations of common English phrases on the German internet. I’d say in general most people won’t care, though if you overuse English words in your speech people may find it a bit silly.

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I accept that as an answer, and a very nice one, too.

Marketing people often use English slogans or at least English words in German slogans. A drugstore chain had a TV commercial finishing with “come in and find out” which could be understood as “come in and find your way out”. There is an annual prize called “Sprachpanscher des Jahres” which ‘rewards’ those who have created the crudest mixtures.

The winners and their creations can be found on https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprachpanscher_des_Jahres

You will understand much of the contents of this page, even if you don’t speak German!

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I don’t think this is the case. In fact, I think it’s the opposite - loan words often hold what is referred to in sociolinguistics as “prestige,” meaning that in this case using these loan words even when native versions exist adds a certain level of coolness to speech.

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In France there is definitely a growing resistance to the overwhelming use of English words (especially in business/technical situations).

In Japanese, English loan words are so much more overwhelmingly present that for most of them, native Japanese speaker aren’t even aware of the proper japanese term, so I’d figure that it’s way too late for a language preservation movement to have any impact now. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing ; it’s not my place to judge.

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As a person living in Germany who studies and works in IT it’s not silly at all to use anglicisms. Even contrary to that - if you use the German equivalent of a well known English word, for example “Einheitentest” instead of “Unit test”, you will get weird looks. It’s a topic a professor of mine discussed with the class.

On the other hand, I like some of the compound Japanese words like 電話、電車、電子、自転車、勝負、。。。

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Pssst… they’re originally Chinese

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Yes, I know that. We once had an IT manual translated by professional translators who translated the commands as well.

Oops. But nice inventions nevertheless (“electric talk”)

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I wonder if this changes in different contexts indeed. Using loan words can be cool and it can make you the subject of scorn depending on the situation.

Don’t know about japanese but we’re so used to speaking frenglish that we use english words when speaking french when we visit family. If it’s a word that’s made it to french AND we pronounce it atrociously as the french do, no one bats an eyelid. If it’s a word we use because we forgot the french one or there’s not a french one, we get evil looks. If we use a common loan word but pronounce it correctly, we get told off for trying to be cool.

Obviously, there must be a point when a loanword or using a foreign word for effect is a first. I wonder how they quietly make their way into daily speech.

It’s a fine line between being seen as cool vs pretentious when using a foreign word when it’s not absolutely needed. Personally, I really like using words from other languages but I can’t tell how many times I got ugly things said at me when doing so in france. The weird thing is, when I use a french word in english, people usually coo and get all excited. French people are snobs, honestly!

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Basically every language has some group that complains about having too many loan words.

Someone already mentioned French, but France specifically has a group, the Académie Français (amusingly known as “the immortals”) who “oversee the French language”.

They specifically tried to push back on English loan words introducing words like le courriel, to limited success. It’s much more common to just say “le email”, which is common for a lot of tech concepts.


In Japanese specifically, I don’t know about “complaint” but I enjoyed this Dogen video which parodies the trend.


You’d might think the only language that doesn’t have a group complaining about loan words is English.

… but you’d be wrong. I think it’s mostly a joke, but there’s at least a wiki dedicated to “Anglish”, the idea of a more pure Germanic-based English language, rather than modern English, that’s absolutely filled with Latin-based loanwords, (mostly due to the influence of French after the Norman Conquest in the 11th century).

And, maybe that’s the long-term view of Japanese, too. We don’t think of English as a language that’s 75% loan-words, even though it is. It’s notable in Japanese because it’s happening now, and in a relatively short span of time; but it’s not that unique in the grand scheme of things.

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Actually, they just say “mail”, which is funny since it does not mean email in english. Context sentence: “Tu peux m’envoyer les photos dans un mail?”.

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In Québec there is l’Office de la langue française that regulates the French language. They push French words as alternative to anglicismes with some success. Courriel is in common use here. We sometimes use email but we never use mail as @saibaneko reports is used in France.

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You can’t really say there’s a “movement” against that in Germany, by the way. Sure, there’re some folks not accepting that language always changes (and always has - ironically, if they demand to stick to the German of, say, 1950, they ignore that it has already changed a lot from the 1900 German and so on.

The only broad resistance against the use of English words appears when they’re being used as generic buzzwords only to seem smart, as often seen in a business context.

That’s probably because in Quebec people are more aware of english. tbh, courriel is actually used a lot in france, for work and in admi comms. But in casual speech, it’s almost always just “mail”.

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To be fair, I resist those in English as well…

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