An interesting phenomenon of the modern Japanese language is the various crazy ways English is mixed in as slang or otherwise. Some English words are so common that practically every Japanese person will understand what they mean. For instance, despite being a fairly difficult word, probably just about everybody knows what charisma （カリスマ） means. And the phrase 「アピールする」 has become so common that it is more accurate to say that it’s simply part of the Japanese vocabulary.
However, by English, we’re not talking about real English but the special bastardized Japanese version. As a result, all of this knowledge is pretty much useless for real English (unfortunately for the Japanese who all seem keen on mastering English). However, it does make things much more interesting for us; the ones that are learning Japanese. （ある意味でね）
Making Japanese verbs with English words
Today, I want to talk about an interesting class of verbs that come directly from English. Katakana words are mostly nouns since verbs require endings that can be conjugated. However, the clever Japanese youth have figured a way around this by simply attaching a generic u-verb 「る」 ending. This ending was selected undoubtably because it felt the most natural to the pioneers of modern Japanese.
A very useful verb of this type is 「サボる」, which originally comes from サボタージュ (sabotage). You will almost certainly see this verb whenever somebody is slacking off, skipping class, and the like.
– Because there is a test, it’s better not to skip tomorrow’s class.
Other less common verbs of this type include 「ダブる」 (to coincide), 「トラブる」 (to act up, cause trouble), 「ミスる」 (to miss), and 「ハモる」 (to harmonize).
– Sorry, my plans ended up doubling so is it OK if I cancel at the last minute?
In a similar vein, although it’s not used very often, instead of saying 「タクシーを呼ぶ」 or 「バスに乗る」, you can also say 「タクる」 and 「バスる」 .
– I missed the last train so having no other choice, I took a taxi home.
Yet another great, recent example of this type of verb is 「ググる」. With the popularity of google.com, you might be aware that “google” has become a new verb meaning “to search something with google”. Well, Japanese also has a similar verb: 「ググる」. (Google is 「グーグル」 in Japanese but 「グーグル」 is harder to say, so the verb became 「ググる」)
– That much, you can figure it out for youself. (Lit: That amount, search on google by yourself.)
I’m gonna stop here before mentioning the various types of restaurant verbs like 「マクる」 (to go to McDonalds)、and 「ファミる」 (to go to a family restaurant) because slang of this type are usually just a passing fad. (And probably won’t make sense to Japanese people over the age of 25)
※The key thing to remember when using these verbs is that you must conjugate them as u-verbs.