Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Let's enjoy Japanese: We all know a little

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day and he pointed out something I had never realized before. Apparently there is a very well-known English expression of Japanese origin floating around out there, and I bet most people, like myself, never even suspected it was Japanese.

I'll give you a hint - 班長

The reading is はんちょう (hancho), and it means section leader. Yup, as in head hancho. So obscure - I'm really curious as to how that one found its way into the English lexicon. Anyway, there you go. If you thought you didn't know any Japanese (aside from sushi and sayonara), you were mistaken.

先日は友達と話してて勉強になった。よく知られている英語の表現のことなんだ。この表現は、(医原)根源が日本語です。全然知らなかった! 確かほぼ外国人の皆はこういうこと知らないと思う。

例の表現は "head hancho"だ。意味はボスだね。でも "hancho" = 班長ってこと・・・勉強になったなぁ。


  1. So it is:

    hon·cho / ˈhänchō/ inf.
    • n. (pl. -chos) a leader or manager; the person in charge: the company's head honcho in the U.S.
    • v. (-choes, -choed) [tr.] be in charge of (a project or situation): the task at hand was to honcho an eighteen-wheeler to St. Louis.

    ORIGIN: 1940s: from Japanese hanchō ‘group leader,’ a term brought back to the U.S. by servicemen stationed in Japan during the occupation following World War II.

  2. Makes sense - I should have suspected it went back to the occupation.

  3. Hi! Hancho is an English word?, and it means 'leader'??? I see... I learn a new word here today, wait, I've already known this word though, but still new to me as an English word...
    ==Reply to previous day's topic==

  4. Hey Taeko,

    Yeah, "head hancho" means the person in charge. The boss. =)

    So to you, you associate 僕 with someone who is more serious, kind, youngish, and polite? But you prefer guys who fit the 俺 image. So if you don't mind me asking, what exactly is your opinion of the 俺 image? Cool and manly? =)