Words brought into Japanese from languages other than Chinese.

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2
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2answers
163 views

Why is Austin spelled with an オ?

Based on the pronunciations here, what I hear in Anime, and the way I hear kana pronounced in Japanese class, it seems to me that Austin should start with ア rather than オ, but it is clearly spelled ...
0
votes
1answer
67 views

Could ルフレ be considered a gender-neutral name?

In the Fire Emblem: Awakening game, the avatar character — that is, the main character whose name and gender you pick — has a default name. In English, the default name is Robin, because the character ...
2
votes
2answers
127 views

What does 「アップしています」 mean?

For example: Youtubeで動画をアップしています。 Does 「アップ」 mean “upload”?
3
votes
1answer
88 views

Is スポーツ a plural-only word?

Typically there is no pluralization in Japanese unless specified. For example: この車【くるま】は綺麗【きれい】。 This car is clean. / These cars are clean. Does スポーツ work in the same way? Considering the ...
5
votes
4answers
204 views

Why do some loanword sounds get “abbreviated” when katakanized, but not others?

Not sure the best way to word this. Why is it that some sounds from a loanword get combined down to a shorter or different sound while other do not? Here are some examples: Shortened, but sound ...
4
votes
2answers
395 views

Is “フリーマーケット” sometimes assumed to be derived from “Free”?

Is the term "フリーマーケット" sometimes assumed to be derived from, or meaning, "Free market", as opposed to "Flea market"? (That is, having a false etymology) There is a phrase "Free market" in English, ...
1
vote
1answer
110 views

Why is Typhoon Neoguri sometimes referred to as “ノグリー”?

Why is Typhoon Neoguri sometimes referred to in Japanese as "ノグリー", and not as "ネオグリー"? The English language Wikipedia's disambiguation page for Typhoon Neoguri mentions that it used to be referred ...
6
votes
2answers
267 views

Words that have been borrowed twice, with different pronunciations?

We all learn early on that hamburger can be translated into Japanese in two different ways: ハンバーガー meat patty in a bun ハンバーグ just the meat patty (or salisbury steak to be exact) Likewise launder ...
3
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2answers
176 views

Why is ホームシック a noun, not a な-adjective?

In class, I was told that ホームシック is a noun, not a な-adjective. ホームシックの時、何をしますか。 By contrast, the closest English word to "ホームシック", which is "homesick", is an adjective. Why is ホームシック a noun? Is it ...
3
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3answers
918 views

Why doesn't Japanese have a special Katakana form for “hu”?

They have created many new Katakana words such as ファ フィ ヴァ ヴィ ティ テゥ to write foreign sounds. But why didn't they create a new combination for "hu" such as ハゥ or ホゥ? Instead they use the same kana for ...
5
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2answers
158 views

What causes loan words to displace native words for existing concepts?

I've been told several times that things like class and classmate don't have non-loan words (I don't know what those are called) associated with them in Japanese. This seems ludicrous to me, as the ...
5
votes
1answer
136 views

Should I use スタート for “start a new game” or something else?

I want to say, "Are you sure you want to start a new game?" (I'm developing a game for Japanese users, and this question is asked when it finishes.) I'm not sure whether スタート is the correct word to ...
5
votes
1answer
549 views

What does セレブ mean these days?

There appears to be some disagreement/confusion about the precise meaning of セレブ - some dictionaries claim that セレブ means the same thing as English "celebrity", while others claim that it just means ...
6
votes
4answers
182 views

ブラウザ or ブラウザー? Words borrowed from English which end with -er

I noticed that some (most? all?) words that were borrowed from English and end with -er in English can have either short or long vowel at the end: browser - can be ブラウザ or ブラウザー driver - can be ドライバ ...
8
votes
2answers
222 views

What nuance does ガールフレンド have?

Does ガールフレンド have a meaning of a female friend (like girl friend), or a female romantic partner? Someone told me it had the former meaning, and I should use "彼女" for a romantic partner. However, the ...
3
votes
1answer
110 views

What does ハイツ mean in building names in Japan?

I've been living in Hokkaido for a while now, and there are plenty of dinky buildings on flat surfaces that have ハイツ stuck on the end of their names. As a native English speaker, few of these are ...
3
votes
1answer
251 views

What do young Japanese mean by セクハラ?

What do Japanese young people exactly mean by 「セクハラ」? Do they think it is negative, or only slightly negative, or not negative? I've often heard Japanese university students throw around the term ...
6
votes
2answers
180 views

What is the origin of ポイ as in “タバコのポイ”?

I was trying to see how much of the writing on the signs in the park I could make sense of today and found something of interest. A sign stating what not to do in the park covered not littering and ...
5
votes
1answer
284 views

What special kana are used to write foreign words?

How does Japanese handle sounds outside the 五十音図【ごじゅうおんず】? Are there ways of distinguishing sounds such as V or L in katakana renderings of foreign words? How are the missing sounds in the ワ column ...
1
vote
3answers
161 views

An appropriate word for “psyllium seed husk powder” that doesn't describe it as a laxative? (Plantago psyllium L)

I'm thinking about translating a recipe in Japanese and I'm kind of astonished that there isn't a wikipedia page for psyllium seed husk powder, but there's a brief one for psyllium. I'm not sure if ...
2
votes
1answer
170 views

What are the reasons for the huge amount of loanwords in Japanese?

It seems that Japanese has far more loanwords than any other language I've heard spoken. I understand that English is far-reaching and a global language, but are there many known reasons that English ...
8
votes
1answer
315 views

Is ありす a traditional girl's name?

Is ありす, or a name pronounced the same as "ありす", a traditional feminine given name? (If I have to define traditional, then pre-dating the end of the Sakoku policy) I've heard about parents naming ...
8
votes
2answers
285 views

Why is debug デバッグ but bug is バグ?

I'm interested in why the extra small tsu in included in the word デバッグ but not バグ. Are there any rules governing voicing in words formed via reduplication? Lyman's rule may explain this, but does ...
5
votes
1answer
491 views

Why is katakana /va/ normally written ヴァ rather than ヷ?

Even though there is a katakana character ヷ, most of the time when I see something that is transcribed into Japanese as /va/, it is in the form ヴァ (say, for example, in the title of the anime series ...
3
votes
1answer
137 views

The process behind キャ in loanwords from English

I'm curious why many English words that are borrowed into Japanese which have the "ca" sound as in "can" or "canvas" end up with that being mapped to キャ: キャンバス (canvas) キャビネット (cabinet) キャンセル ...
8
votes
1answer
254 views

How do you geminate ら-line sounds?

This is my current understanding of gemination (促音, /Q/, small っ): in native Japanese words, only the following sounds can be geminated: /k/, /s/, /t/, /p/. Additionally, in loanwords we can geminate ...
4
votes
1answer
120 views

Are non-Japanese political party names translated, or transliterated?

Are the names of new political parties, especially in English-speaking countries, typically translated, or transliterated? I looked at the Japanese language Wikipedia template for Australian ...
4
votes
1answer
213 views

Is it possible to write anything long completely in 和語?

I sometimes wonder how feasible is it to completely avoid loanwords, i.e. 漢語 and 外来語, but still using Modern Japanese (i.e. not simply just using Old/Classical Japanese vocabulary). Is the 和語 ...
6
votes
2answers
484 views

“Boo” equivalent in Japanese?

Is there a disappointed or sad "boo" equivalent in Japanese? Kind of like: Person 1: "Hey man, can I borrow 10 dollars?" Person 2: "Nah I don't have any change." Person1: "Boo, now I don't have ...
3
votes
1answer
312 views

Why aren't マンション mansions? Or are they?

And no, this isn't about property sizes in Japan! As Katakana Mysteries: 6 loan words Japan got wrong put it: Bill Gates or Warren Buffet might be very surprised if they were to buy a Japanese ...
15
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2answers
903 views

How did コンセント come to be used for “outlet”?

Saw this on a charger I bought online and was really perplexed. What foreign word does it represent? "concentric"? What does that have to do with outlet and where did it come from?
8
votes
1answer
288 views

Why is Jordan (the country) spelt ヨルダン?

I recently found out that Jordan (the country) is spelt ヨルダン, not ジョーダン, which is how it's spelt in a person's name. Is this based on how it's pronounced in Arabic and/or Hebrew, or how it's ...
7
votes
2answers
256 views

How does ウァ differ from ワ and ヴァ?

I know Wine is written as ワイン. I've also seen Whiskey as ウィスキー. In both english words, the 'w' sound are relatively similar (although slightly different). I'm assuming ウァ would be somewhat like ワ. But ...
11
votes
1answer
434 views

Is かわいい wago or kango?

かわいい is sometimes spelled in kanji as 可愛い. This seems to be an 音読み reading which points to a Chinese loan, and Chinese does have this word. However, the meaning of 可愛 as "cute" in Chinese seems to ...
12
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2answers
407 views

What is the breakdown of countries where loan words originate?

Is there any general idea of what percentage of loan words come from which languages? I always thought the majority of them came from English, but I keep seeing more and more that originated in ...
8
votes
1answer
186 views

question about kanji sports names 蹴球, 籠球, 庭球, and 野球

A few questions about these words. The words [蹴球]{しゅうきゅう}, [籠球]{ろうきゅう}, and [庭球]{ていきゅう} mean football, basketball, and tennis, respectively. But I have only seen them in a dictionary, and in practice ...
6
votes
2answers
265 views

Is there a generally accepted “rule” for truncating loan words?

I've noticed that sometimes loan words (usually pairs) are truncated to just the first two morae from each word: Smash Brothers ➤ スマッシュブラザーズ ➤ スマブラ "Don't mind." ➤ ドンマイ I assume this is ...
13
votes
3answers
663 views

Why is “Xy” pronounced as “Ki Shi” in Xylitol「キシリトール」?

Why is "Xy" pronounced as "[Ki Shi]{キ シ}" in [Xylitol]{キシリトール}? I believe "Xy" can pronounced as "Zai", which is probably a valid sound in Japanese. I would like to know its etymology too, if there ...
3
votes
1answer
205 views

Is one transcription of “Andrew” more standard than another?

I recently looked at the disambiguation page for Andrew on the Japanese Wikipedia, and found that there were several "アンドルー"s, and several "アンドリュー"s. I couldn't discern any trend that one form ...
6
votes
1answer
339 views

Katakana words with Kanji. How did that happen?

Some words are written with katakana, but also have kanji. For example: コーヒー 珈琲 ページ 頁 How did this happen? They are loanwords, but no doubt had Japanese equivalents before these variants were ...
7
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7answers
859 views

Why are the katakana important to learn?

I've just started, and everything says learn your hiragana and katakana first. The hiragana, very clear. I guess you can say an awful lot of things in Japanese with hiragana. But everything I've been ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the more common pronunciation for the r­ōmaji letter Z in Japanese?

I was on the phone with NTT the other day and things were going well (or as good as they could), until I had to spell some email address for the customer rep, and fell upon the letter 'Z'. ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is the Japanese currency pronounced “yen” in English?

I'm wondering what the reason for the mispronunciation of 円 in English came to be "yen". I can understand how some words like 東京 became "Tokyo", but "en" to "yen" seems strange. On a side note, why is ...
3
votes
2answers
333 views

Pronunciation of W

I often see the alphabet W being transcribed or pronounced as "ダブル" rather than "ダブリュー" in Japanese, and I think that in most cases, that was not what was meant. Indeed, there seems to be a practice ...
5
votes
3answers
332 views

Is タオル used for the towels used at onsen?

onsenjapan.net claims that タオル is used for "towel", presumably the large one. When I asked a staff member at Odeo onsen "これ は 何 ですか?" while indicating the large towel I was holding, the staff member ...
17
votes
3answers
1k views

Who decides what katakana will be used to form English loan words?

I love katakana, mostly because of how the characters look. But I am constantly baffled by why certain loan words from English are constructed using certain katakana sounds. For example, if someone ...
5
votes
1answer
172 views

しゅうと/シュート - The great equalizer

I was watching the movie Mr. Baseball the other day. Several times during the movie they talk about しゅうと which they describe as "the great equalizer". (Could possibly be しゅうとう, but their dialog does ...
11
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5answers
505 views

Less-approximate and more-approximate forms of loan words

When Japanese incorporates a Western word, especially English, often the spelling rather than the pronunciation is respected in the transcription, thus, ending up with a transcription that is not the ...
5
votes
3answers
192 views

How often does gairaigo get bikago?

How often does gairaigo get bikago? おトイレ is mentioned by Wiktionary, and Wikipedia mentions it being used ironically in o-kokakōra, but I haven't come across any others. One case where its absence ...
13
votes
3answers
368 views

Is パートナー likely to be interpreted as a same-sex partner?

When I talked about a relative and his パートナー visiting for Christmas, the person I was speaking to asked if his パートナー was male. Is this a common interpretation of パートナー? Is there a better word than ...