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Food and Drink in Katakana English

Differences with U. S. English

Tomoko Nakayama


SEMINAR 1 (World Englishes)
Kumamoto Gakuen University Foreign Language Department
English Course

SUPERVISOR: Judy Yoneoka

Kumamoto Gakuen University
Oe 2-5-1 Kumamoto
This paper consists of approximately 1347 words


In Japan, the number of words from foreign languages like English which are

used in our daily life is very huge. We borrow and use such foreign words as Japanese.
English is the main resource of all the foreign languages. Now, English is used as a
common language all over the world. There is a lot of English in our daily life.
The 21st century is the global period. Japan takes in English as a second
language in our life. English which is used in Japanese is transformed into Katakana and
it comes in smoothly around our daily life. Thus, Katakana English is used in a sense of
New Japanese.
More than 10 percent of Japanese that is used at present is Katakana English.
About 80 percent of these are English words. Japanese people take in foreign language
into Japanese positively. Katakana English applies the language as which has a feeling
of a particular Japan.
Especially English that relates to food, clothing and shelter is often
transformed into Japanese. In this paper, specific examples of English related to Food
(section ) and Drink (section ) will be introduced.

Food is the most familiar existence in our daily life. We touch food everyday,

and eat food. This section introduces katakana English used in food, and compares it

with U.S. English.

2.1. Cake ()
Although Cake which we say in English means the whole cake collected
into a circle, each cake after being cut is called A Piece of Cake instead of Cake. On
the other hand, Japanese Cake () means both of these.
Japanese people will be reminded of Decorated Cakes (
), such as a birthday and Christmas, if they think about a cake. However, in
English, the Western-style cake as a big lump which already has decorations is called
Cake. Although Japanese people call it Decoration Cake, in English, it is only
called Cake.
Moreover, Cake Cut () in Japanese refers to when a
newlywed couple cuts a wedding cake in a marriage ceremony. However, because
Cake Cut is Japanese English, it does not make sense to the native English speaker. In
English, it is called Cake-Cutting.
2.2. Ice Cream ()
If we want have Ice Cream, we usually abbreviate and say Aisu (
) in Katakana. However, Aisu is Japanese English. It usually means Ice if we
say Aisu in English. In this case, it is called an Ice Cream in native English.
Moreover, Ice Candy () is Japanese English. It

means the stick shape of frozen ice candy with sweeteners, coloring, and the smell to
the fruit juice and nectar. It is called Popsicle from a typical brand name in the United
Japanese people are usually call a which spiral shaped soft ice cream Soft
Cream (). In the United States, it is called Soft Ice Cream or
Frozen Yoghurt. Moreover, if you say Soft Cream in English, it means cream which
is soft.
2.3. French Fries ()
Many Japanese people think that Fried Potato () is
undoubtedly English. Fried Potato means Potatoes fried in oil. However, it is called
French Fries in U. S. English generally. If you want to order Fried Potato (
) in the U. S., you have to say French Fries, please.
In the United States, it is called French Fries in the plural form.
On the other hand, it is called Fried Potato () in the singular form
in Japan. Interestingly, it is called Mac Fry Potato () without
the -ed by McDonalds in Japan.
2.4. Cream Puff ()
We usually use a word Chou Cream () is Japanese
English. In English, it says Cream Puff. As for puff, it means bulge, and it refers

to a sweet which bulges softly.

Chou Cream () originates from Choux la crme in
French. Moreover, Shoe Cream means the cream used when shoes are polished in

Drinks are bound up with our daily life just like Food. We have something to

drink everyday. This section introduces Katakana English used in drinks, and compares
it with U. S. English.
3.1. Coffee ()
Coffee came to be drunk between Japanese people. Moreover, people at
home, at an office and so on increasingly drink coffee instead of Japanese tea. In
Japanese English, American coffee () often abbreviated as
American (), is the thin coffee of the American style called Mild Coffee
or Weak Coffee in native English. American Coffee is assumed to be Americanmade coffee in English, but when you are ordering coffee in the United States, you must
say May I have a cup of coffee, please? without attaching the word American.
3.2. Cream () and Milk ()
When we drink a coffee, we put Milk () into coffee in Japan, but
this does not make sense in the United States. They put in Cream (). They

usually ask Cream and Sugar? although Japanese people ask Milk and Sugar? It is
characteristic to say Cream first and to attach or to a conjunction. When you are
asked How would you like your coffee? and you answer it, according to your liking
you can answer Both, Just cream, Nothing, thank you and Ill take it black.
In Japan, Milk () has various meanings. It was the meaning such as
Milk that we are usually drinking and Milk Powder () that the baby
drinks. Milk Powder is concentrated milk, dried, and made into a powder. It contains
nutrients such as sugar and vitamins.
3.3. Juice ()
In Japan, even drinks with a label like 10% Grape Juice are sold as Juice.
Therefore, even what is called Mix Juice () may not be juice
which is 100% of fruit juice. Although it is called in English Mixed Fruit Juice, Fruit
Juice Mix, A Mixture of Juice, etc, these all refer to 100% fruit juice respectively. In
English, it only products made of 100% fruit juice is Juice.
Above all things, drinks with carbonated water are also called Juice in
Japanese, but are called Pop, Soda, Soda Pop, etc in native English. Also
processed drinks in which other sweeteners are contained with only fruit juice are called
-drink in native English. Anything with less than 100% fruit juice, in which alcohol is
not contained, is called a Soft Drink.


Japanese people took a lot of foreign words and made up Japanese English like

this. The activity of Japanese people as creators of Japanese English is indeed splendid.
The present age is an age when the change is extreme. New Japanese English is made
one after another. In this paper, examples of Food and Drink in our daily life were
mentioned, it but Japanese-English in a broad meaning can be found in many areas:
cars, fashion and baseball etc., as well as many other fields. It is an important point of
communication with foreigners to be conscious of the differences between familiar
Japanese-English and other Englishes even subconsciously.


Ishii, Kumiko. (2000) Kaiwa ni ikasu Katakanaeigono marutobatsu (in Japanese)

Tokyo: Kenkyuusyasyuppan. 2000.5
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Japanese) Tokyo: Maruzen Library.
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(in Japanese) Tokyo: Sansyoudo.

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