Are wasei words the same thing as konshugo?
  • I'm writing an essay about gairaigo and I'm a bit confused. I found that konshugo are composite words formed from any combination of wago, kango and gairaigo. Isn't that the definition of wasei words? Are they the same thing?
  • 和語 (wago) - words which are originally Japanese
    漢語 (kango) - words which were adopted from Chinese (such as many kanji compounds which use on-readings)
    外来語 (gairaigo) - words which come from other languages, often English but also others such as Dutch, Portuguese, German and French.
    混種語 (konshugo) - words which combine some of the above, e.g. 消しゴム is a mix of wago/gairaigo

    和製 (wasei) just means "Japanese made". You may be thinking of 和製外来語 (wasei gairaigo)・和製英語 (wasei eigo) which are words, for example, サラリーマン (salaryman), which is not a direct transliteration of an English word into Japanese, but a Japanese word formed by combining two English ones. This term can also be used for cases where the meaning in Japanese is totally different from the original language (e.g. カンニング means "to cheat")

    The basic difference is that in wasei eigo/gairaigo, all the parts used to make the word up are from a foreign language. Normally, the word will be written in katakana. In konshugo, part of the word is from a foreign language, and part from Japanese. They are often written in a mix of katakana and hiragana/kanji.

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