外来語. Words brought into Japanese from languages other than Chinese.

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551 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 ...
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3answers
210 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 ...
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2answers
209 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 ...
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469 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 ...
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1answer
144 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 ...
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1answer
183 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 ...
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163 views

Why do the Japanese use loanwords for words that have functional equivalents?

It strikes me, reading Japanese that katakana is often used for words that have functional equivalents in the Japanese language. Why is this? For instance, using ビル as opposed to 建物。 Or ブルー instead ...
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373 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 ...
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1answer
844 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 ...
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192 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 ...
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2k 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 ...
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415 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, ...
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1answer
452 views

What is the etymology of イギリス?

I'm trying to figure out where the term イギリス for the United Kingdom came from. I suspect 英国【えいこく】 because they sound similar, but that seems a bit odd as Katakana words are usually loan words.
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169 views

Does 被【かぶ】る have any relation to “cover”?

Topic. I've heard/seen somewhere that 被【かぶ】る was "gairaigo-fied" (?) from the English word "cover" (similar to ダブる or デモる), and then presumably given ateji from 被【おお】う since the meanings overlap so ...
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130 views

Can キーウィ be used to mean New Zealander?

Outside of Australia and New Zealand, am I likely to be understood by Japanese speakers if I use キーウィ to mean New Zealanders? Based on what weblio and Wiktionary say, I suspect not, but I want to ...
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1answer
229 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 ...
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207 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 ...
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2answers
162 views

Was 蒙古症 or similar words commonly used to refer to Down Syndrome?

The possibility that Japanese used words derived from "Mongoloid" to refer to Down Syndrome hadn't crossed my mind until I was mentioning the word to a Japanese person practicing English, but ...
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2answers
469 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 ...
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1answer
156 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 ...
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431 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 ...
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1answer
180 views

Is メリー mainly used in the set phrase メリークリスマス?

Is the gairaigo メリー mainly used in the set phrase メリークリスマス (Merry Christmas!) or can it be used without the クリスマス to mean "merry", such as 私はメリーです to say "I am feeling merry"? There's also メリーゴーランド ...
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179 views

Is レリゴる likely to be understood, and what does it mean?

Last year, I heard from other English speakers about the katakana verb レリゴる. It's supposed to be a verb related to the movie Frozen (アナと雪の女王). Is the verb generally understood by Japanese speakers? I ...
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1answer
101 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 ...
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1answer
235 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 ...
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1answer
88 views

What is the origin of イレーザー?

There is a word イレーザー, which means 'eraser'. I suspect this comes from the English word eraser. But the "s" sound in eraser is not voiced in American English, and a closer approximation in kana will ...
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1answer
149 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 ...
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148 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”?
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1answer
166 views

Is マスカット an accurate translation for “green grape”, and what foreign word is it derived from?

I'm new to Japanese so I'm working my way through Human Japanese, when I was adding the vocabulary to Quizlet I realized I didn't know how to type マスカット because I'm not used to seeing ツ used like ...
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1answer
107 views

Is オージー understood by non-Australian Japanese speakers?

Is the word "オージー" (in the meaning of "Aussie", not as in "old girl" or other meanings) understood by non-Australian Japanese speakers? Also, in English, non-Australians have a tendency to use ...
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2answers
216 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 ...
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1answer
237 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 ...
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1answer
454 views

Is “ガール” (gāru) now considered a Japanese word? What about “ガールズ” (gāruzu)?

In my wanderings around Japan giving my kana knowledge some practice I've noticed both the words "ガール" (gāru) and "ガールズ" (gāruzu) in use at least in signage. Obviously they are borrowed from English ...
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1answer
142 views

What is the most common word used for 'idea'?

Pretty sure I've mostly seen idea as アイデア Does anyone know of other words used for 'idea' and if possible any example sentences and contexts where different words are used? Thanks in advance.
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1answer
120 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 ...
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1answer
112 views

Why is イチゴ written in katakana?

From which language did it come to Japanese? And why does it have its own kanji?
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274 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 ...
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1answer
187 views

Why importing words from other languages rather than building new ones from existing kanji? [closed]

I would like to know why, in general, new words are imported (from English among other languages) rather that created with respect to the concept/thing they represent. For example, "computer" could ...
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1answer
102 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 ...