Technology and Language
Since the effectiveness of technology is ever far from waning, the text language must be studied and prodded. The world is in a constant flux of change and development. One such piece of technology is the cell phone, and the use of text messaging. Since cell phones and text messaging is quite prevalent Japan, it would be quite interesting to study the language of text messaging to see patterns in text language, be it, the hiragana, katakana, kanji similar to the writing system, or implementing more romaji, or if there is a new hybrid Japanese language through texts similar to what has happened to English, and the extensive use of abbreviations, for example: lol, ttyl, and g2g.
This would prove to be interesting as Japan is a culture that is able to strike a balance between the past, while adapting for the future. The text message is a means of communication, and through this, an evolution of writing. By looking at technology, through the scope of text messages, unearthing different facets of Japan-ness that is either lost in the text language or kept is possible. For example, would there be a strict following towards grammar, or would it be unnecessary just as long as the recipient can understand the idea of the text?
Japanese vs. Engrish vs. English
Building off of the 'Prevalence of English in Japanese Speech' idea, is the concept of cross linguistic homonyms. As it has been pointed out, katakana is used for the translating of foreign words, but the problem with adopting words is that there is a chance that the word or phrase in question has a phonetic similarity already in the host language. It would be interesting to see how Japanese people would respond and react to a word that has a phonetic similarity or do they even care about it. This could also work conversely as there may be some phonetic words that could mean one thing in Japanese, and something entirely different in English.
An example of such confusion is within the penchant of Japanese people to use abbreviations for stores. The convenience store “Family Mart” becomes ‘ファミマ,’ and “Starbucks” is abbreviated into ‘スターバ.‘ These may just sound funny to the people who are not immersed in the language, however, using abbreviations and cross linguistic homonyms may connote vastly different ideas. For example, in Japan, there is a fast food restaurant called “First Kitchin.” Just like “Family Mart,” and “Starbucks,” there is an abbreviation for it which is ‘ファッキン.’ To the Japanese, this is just an abbreviation for the fast food place, however, in English there is a completely different set of narratives with that word, thus showing one example of Engrish versus English.
The idea of ‘Engrish’ is an entrancing one because Japan, today, and through its history, is known for taking foreign ideas and transforming it into something unique with its Japan-ness. Incorporating the Chinese characters, called 'Kanji,' and buying the technology of transistor radios which led to the creation of the 'Play Station' brand are just a couple of much more examples of the 'Japanization' of foreign entities. Using English is just another example of this. As the members of 'Team Engrish' pointed out, the definition of 'Engrish' is, to an extent, mistakes in translation of English. The use of 'Engrish' is prevalent because of the 'World's' penchant of looking towards, and the adaptation of western societies, and the English language is one such aspect.
I do not have much criticism neither to the over arching theme, nor the approach of grappling with 'Engrish.' What I would like to do, however, is to add on to their research. I would like to present two more suggestions to the 'Engrish' aesthetic as a means to try and round out their research by giving more depth and breadth as a compliment to the group's findings. The first is within the global network and the aspect of using 'Engrish' through text messaging and secondly, is the problems with cross linguistic homonyms.
I believe that "we," the global 'we', Japan especially, are moving towards, if not already in, an age of technological dependence, where anything and everything is placed in the realm of technology. In adding to the group's framework of the "What we plan to look for," I would like to present the technology aspect of Engrish, by way of text messaging. Since cell phones and text messaging is quite prevalent Japan, what I propose is study the language of text messaging to see patterns in text language, be it, the hiragana, katakana, kanji similar to the writing system, or implementing more romaji, or if there is a new hybrid Japanese language through texts similar to what has happened to English, and the extensive use of abbreviations, for example: lol, ttyl, and g2g.
In addition, is the confusion in differentiating between Japanese and Engrish. The problem with adopting words is there is a chance that the word or phrase in question has a phonetic similarity already in the host language, and this poses obvious problems. An example is in the manga 'school rumble' by Jin Kobayashi. Although Jin Kobayashi seems self aware of this problem, he brings it to the fore through the names of his characters. One of the main character's names is Harima Kenji (はりま けんじ), a delinquent, and on separate occasions, he is mixed up with a transfer student whose name is Harry McKenzie (ハリー マケンジ). So my point is; find other examples of this confusion of cross linguistic homonyms and see how the Japanese populace respond and react or do they even care about it.
By Roman Magnaye