Words brought into Japanese from languages other than Chinese.

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16
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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 ...
16
votes
4answers
1k views

Since Japanese already had several words for rice why was “ライス” (raisu) borrowed from English?

Last night I had dinner in a ramen restaurant in northern Japan and was surprised to read the katakana "ライス" (raisu) on the menu. This is obviously the English word "rice" borrowed. But what kind of ...
16
votes
2answers
791 views

When and how did USA and UK come to be written as [米]{べい}[国]{こく} and [英]{えい}[国]{こく}?

I know of four countries with a specific kanji besides Japan: China, the Netherlands, the USA and UK. The last two must be quite recent (I presume 19th century) but I wonder on the details and context ...
15
votes
2answers
429 views

Where does the word ダイヤ come from that means “train schedule”?

For the longest time I've been hearing the word ダイヤ and just always assumed it meant "Diamond", but found recently it all means "train schedule". My question is, what word/language did this word ...
15
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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'. ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

Are there any old loanwords from Korean, especially any not written in katakana?

Given the close proximity and long history of interaction of various kinds within East Asia, the great influence of Chinese in both Japanese and Korean, and the similar structures of Japanese and ...
14
votes
2answers
776 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?
13
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3answers
628 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 ...
13
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4answers
698 views

Are wasei-eigo and wasei-kango looked down upon?

Is wasei-eigo or wasei-kango looked down upon by Japanese language purists (as opposed to English or Chinese purists!) as informal, inauthentic, incorrect or the like?
13
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2answers
348 views

What is the meaning and root of 意味くじピーマン?

Recently a friend of mine threw the term 意味くじピーマン (imi kuji pi-man) into a story she was telling, and it totally threw me off. At first I thought, because I wasn't sure how to parse the くじ part, it ...
13
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2answers
427 views

Are foreign adjectives always な adjectives?

Sitting in a restaurant yesterday I saw a sign advertising a mango flavoured bagel. It was described as トロピカルな味. That just got me wondering... whenever a 外来語【がいらいご】(word taken from a foreign language ...
13
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3answers
346 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 ...
12
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5answers
152 views

ユーザ or ユーザー, which is more in use or is there no difference?

ユーザ or ユーザー, which is more in use or is there no difference? I see both of them in use, but is there one that is more correct than the other or is at least the prevailing standard? a similar word is ...
12
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2answers
367 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 ...
12
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1answer
365 views

Why did オレンジ replace 橙【だいだい】?

This question about colours got me thinking: Why, and how, did オレンジ come to replace 橙【だいだい】 to refer to the colour orange? It seems weird to me that a word taken from a foreign language became ...
11
votes
1answer
404 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 ...
11
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5answers
485 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 ...
10
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5answers
1k views

Native word for “pen”

Is there a native, non-loanword for "pen" (the writing instrument)? Or is there only 「ペン」? There is one for "pencil" (鉛筆), one for "ruler" (定規), one for "paper" (紙) and even though the one for ...
9
votes
3answers
761 views

外来語 (gairaigo) replaced by Japanese word?

Are there cases where gairaigo used in every day speech (パン, アイスクリーム, etc...) have been ousted by native Japanese words?
9
votes
2answers
702 views

Would I have 牛乳 or ミルク with my cereal?

I've just found out that there's a couple of words for milk, and that they have slightly different meanings. Which one would I have with my Weetbix in a "viking style" breakfast in Niseko? Based on ...
9
votes
4answers
536 views

Are there any common Japanese words which were borrowed from Ainu or other indigenous languages?

I know plenty of Japanese words that came from English and a few from other European languages (obviously tons from Chinese), but what about words from Japan's indigenous languages such as Ainu? Also ...
9
votes
1answer
345 views

does 「なう」have effeminate connotations?

I often get text messages from people who use the twitter-derived slang 「なう」 to mean "now." As in 「電車なう」meaning "(I am on the) train now." However, these mainly come from women, and one gay dude. Is ...
8
votes
4answers
573 views

What changes are made to the pronunciation of gairaigo?

What changes are usually made to the pronounciation of gairaigo? I notice that vowels are often added between multiple consonants and to the end of words (eg "programmer" => "puroguramaa" (プログラマー)), ...
8
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2answers
1k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
211 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
173 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
290 views

How do you classify a word like “電子レンジ”?

This recent question introduced me to the concepts of 外来語【がいらいご】, defined as foreign words not originating from Chinese, and 和製英語【わせいえいご】, which are English constructions that were made in Japan. ...
8
votes
1answer
285 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
259 views

Term for multiple foreign words sharing the same loanword in Japanese?

Is there a term that describes multiple foreign words sharing the same Japanese-language loanword? For example, Wikipedia's disambiguation page for フォーク (Romaji: foku) covers both the English word ...
8
votes
1answer
174 views

Is there any gairaigo based on Australian English?

Has any Australian English become incorporated into Japanese as gairaigo? Or would most Japanese people only be exposed to Australian English from Australian-made shows such as "The Crocodile Hunter"? ...
8
votes
1answer
240 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 ...
7
votes
6answers
341 views

Different transcriptions for words with related origin

Sometimes, a single foreign word or etymologically related words from different dialects/related languages is/are incorporated into Japanese with different transcriptions/pronouncations and often ...
7
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5answers
1k views

Chinese words in Japanese

I have heard that Japanese has the largest number of words of any language because every Chinese word can also be a Japanese word. Is there any truth to this statement?
7
votes
2answers
275 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
245 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 ...
7
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2answers
256 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 ...
7
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3answers
238 views

How to read words like テスト with ordinal numbers?

Consider this: テスト1, テスト2, テスト3 etc. (Taken from my exercise books. The tests are labelled as such up to 30) (Question) Should numbers that are used with loanwords like テスト be read with いち, に, ...
7
votes
1answer
248 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 ...
6
votes
7answers
791 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
612 views

What went wrong when I asked for a 衡器{こうき}?

I was in Bikku Camera earlier today, and I wanted to buy a small kitchen scale for measuring small amounts of food. I looked up the word "scale" in the dictionary, and it said 衡器{こうき}. So I found a ...
6
votes
2answers
254 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
174 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
171 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
411 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
151 views

What is the origin of エンターティナー

Some people use the word エンターティナー to mean 'entertainer'. I suspect this word comes from the English word entertainer. But the accented vowel is "ei", rather than "i". It would be a better ...
6
votes
1answer
318 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
184 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
521 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
277 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
216 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 ...