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18

but I am constantly baffled by why certain loan words from English are constructed using certain katakana sounds. Loan words do not necessarily need to be borrowed from English. In fact, most old loan words (in the 外来語 sense) were borrowed from Portuguese. For example, if someone asked me to say "energy" in Japanese, I would have guessed エナジー or ...


16

Good question! 「米国」 According to Japanese Wikipedia, the pronunciation of American was メリケン during the Meiji period, and was rendered into kanji as 「米利堅」 Since the first character is 米 (べい、まい、めい) the abbreviation became 米国. This was despite the fact that the full kanji representation of アメリカ is 亜米利加. I suspect it was because 亜 is already used to represent ...


15

It comes from the Greek word xylon, which means wood. The Greek word xylon is pronounced "ksilon", so the Japanese transcription is faithful to the original Greek pronunciation, rather than the English corruption of the word. See the answer to this question for the reason why "x" is pronounced "z" at the beginning of English words. As for the origin of ...


15

It is native Japanese (和語). It is a compound of kao (顔) and hayui (映ゆい). A simplified view of the phonological development is kapopayu-ki > kaɸoɸayu-ki > kawowayu-ki > kaowayu-ki > kawayu-ki > kawayu-i > kawai-i. Other than the normal p > ɸ > w > Ø, the two major changes are 1) merge of owa > wa and yu > i. 可愛 is ateji (当て字).


13

Why is it pronounced "yen"? I was actually wondering this a month or so ago, but found the answer on the Wikipedia article for yen/en. The spelling and pronunciation "yen" is standard in English. This is because mainly English speakers who visited Japan at the end of the Edo period to the early Meiji period spelled words this way. ... In the 16th ...


12

There are also several old and common words which may have come from Korean, but of course, unlike words that are easily recognized as Korean in origin (such as 両班 Yangban or 温突 ondol), these words would probably forever remain in controversy: 寺 (てら) may have come from the Korean 절 (jeol). The Koujien dictionary also states the Pali word thera (old, ...


12

I think most people don't even know whether a word is wasei-eigo. Just to give you a sense, there are plenty of people who think パン, バイト, and アベック come from English. I think most won't care if they find that out (which they do because sometimes the TV discusses this. For most people it's just another trivia). Just think about how popular ルー大柴 was ;) I'm ...


12

I'm fairly certain that this has to do with pitch in Japanese and accentuation in English. The natural pitch for デバグ【HLL】 is HLL, whereas デバッグ【LHLL】 would naturally be LHL (and バグ【HL】 is HL). To mimic accentuation by pitch (i.e. accented syllables get a high pitch after transliteration), the ッ is necessary to give the バ a (natural) high pitch. バグ already ...


10

There's one for a fountain pen: 万年筆 (まんねんひつ), but pens haven't been around that long, so everything else seems to be ペン. Mr. Biro only started making his ballpoints in the 1940's. Even one of the types of pencil has become a pen - シャーペン (it's a shortening of シャープペンシル).


10

Someone else might have better referenced information but I was told these words predate the Second World War when the Japanese government policy was to avoid, possibly even outlaw, all loanwords. (My Japanese father in law told me he was not taught English because it was language of the enemy.) There were also Japanese names for the fielding positions in ...


9

If you're OK with エロい (as discussed in comments), there are examples like: エロい グロい ナウい But note that these are directly derived from エロ(チシズム), グロ(テスク), and ナウ ("now"). They were not borrowed into the language as -i adjectives; they were borrowed into the language as nouns and/or na adjectives, and then THOSE borrowings were turned into -i adjectives. ...


9

I have never heard of the word 衡器, although if written in kanji, I can imagine what it is. It is a rare word if it ever exist. Maybe you are using some strange/old/too formal dictionary. The most normal word for this situation is はかり, whose kanji writings is usually 秤, 量り, or 計り. スケール is not as usual, but at least it is much more recognizable than 衡器. One ...


9

The second paragraph can be answered in large part by What changes are made to the pronunciation of gairaigo? and by Less-approximate and more-approximate forms of loan words and by Different transcriptions for words with related origin . As for the third paragraph, Wikipedia says the Agency for Cultural Affairs (文化庁) at the Ministry of Education of Japan ...


9

But everything I've been reading all seems to say that katakana are mostly used to form loanwords from other languages Katakana are used for way more than just making loanwords: It is used for reading classical Chinese (漢文). It is used for names of people, places, countries, restaurants, etc. It is used in science, for example biological names of ...


9

This puts English derived words at something like 80% of foreign origin words (this would exclude 漢語{かんご}). It also has some lists of words separated by origin (leaving out English-derived words). Let's assume for a moment that this list is in some way representative of non-English derived katakana loanwords. A rough calculation suggests that the most ...


8

ご飯 (ごはん), 飯 (めし) and ライス all refer to the same thing: steamed rice. ご飯 and 飯 can mean meal, too. As you said, it is not uncommon to see ライス in a menu at a restaurant, even when it is not part of a compound word such as カレーライス. I do not know why they do not say ご飯, and I can only make a guess at possible reasons: As Jeshii said, they may want to make it ...


8

Although it's true that there are a very, very large number of kanji compounds imported from Chinese to Japanese, it's not as direct as that statement. There are Chinese words that don't exist in Japanese, and many chinese Kanji have different meanings or pronounciations, as well as occasionally being written slightly differently. These differences are ...


8

It would require serious philological investigation to figure out the exact situation w/r/t to 衡器, スケール and はかり, but there are a few suggestive pieces of data easily available. 日本国語大辞典 has one example sentence for 衡器. It is from 1909, from a weights-and-measures law ([度量]{どりょう}衡法{こうほう}施行令{しこうれい}): 度量衡器の製作の免許を受けたる者は ... ...


8

Xyl~ is the same as Xyl in Xylophone (coming from 'wood' in Greek). How it is pronounced varies between languages. You can see this by the explanation on the Japanese wiki article for Xylophone, which shows the different pronunciations in katakana: Japanese: シロフォン English: ザイロフォウン German: クシュロフォーン French: グジロフォヌ Italian: クシロフォノ、シロフォノ In German the IPA ...


7

I can't think of any cases where this is the case. However, there is a current trend, particularly in business, to use waseigo or gairaigo to appear more "educated". So going forward, one could assume that there are going to be more words replaced by their waseigo or gairaigo equivalent. There are cases where there is gairaigo, but the Chinese word is ...


7

I won't vouch for its accuracy, but here's a list of words that EDICT claims to be of Korean origin: て拳道 [てこんどー] /(n) (uk) Tae Kwon Do (kor:)/ アイゴー /(int) argh (kor: aigo)/sigh/ アボジ /(n) father (kor:)/ ウォン /(n) won (unit of Korean currency) (kor:)/(P)/ ウオン /(n) won (unit of Korean currency) (kor:)/(P)/ オイキムチ /(n) cucumber kimchi (kor: oi kimch'i)/ オモニ /(n) ...


7

Here are a few: truck → トロッコ (on rails), トラック (lorry) English → イギリス (via Portuguese "Inglez"), イングリッシュ letter → レッテル ("label", via Dutch), レター (letter, e.g. love letter) gear → ギヤ (gear, mechanical), ギア (gear = equipment [and less often, mechanical gear]) chocolat(e) → ショコラ (via French), チョコレート (via English) curry → カレー, カリー


7

I was recently told about a word with three different transcriptions with three different usages, which I cannot help sharing! かるた (usually a specific kind of playing cards) < carta (Portuguese) カルテ (a medical record) < Karte (German) カード (a card; a rectangular sheet, usually of paper) < card (English)


7

As Tsuyoshi says, there is no truth to it. The earliest reference given in the [日]{に}[本]{ほん}[国]{こく}[語]{ご}[大]{だい}[辞]{じ}[典]{てん} is from the mid-13th century [観]{かん}[智]{じ}[院]{いん}[本]{ぼん} edition of the [類]{るい}[聚]{じゅ}[名]{みょう}[義]{ぎ}[抄]{しょう}: 盖 オホフ カフル Even English barely had the word cover at that point. Also, according to the same dictionary, かぶる is ...


7

ゼット is the most common pronunciation for Z. ズィー is used by younger generation or by realists, but elderly and conservative people may not understand it. ゼッド is rare. Actually, I have never heard of it. Traditionally, there are several English alphabet letters that are pronounced departing from mere transcription of the sound. They are デー (DEe, HL) for ...


7

It depends on the words and how they are pronounced, although the pattern you noticed is common. For example, the following don't fit the pattern you see: Brad Pitt -> ブラピ Ice Cream -> アイス Convenience Store -> コンビニ There has been a lot of linguistic studies about this and many patterns that exist. One rule is that they are always truncated ...


6

When used in relation to public transportation, ダイヤ means a diagram showing the schedule, or the schedule itself. It is used not only for trains but also for buses, planes, and so on. For example, the schedule of planes can be called as [飛行機]{ひこうき}のダイヤ, [航空便]{こうくうびん}のダイヤ or [空]{そら}のダイヤ.


6

It is the slang used amoung young people in Okinawa, kanji "意味" was not used in original phrase, but katakana is used instead. イミ or イミヨー means "意味がわかんない" in Okinawa dialect, also "イミクジピーマン" is one form. And looks like some people use ~ピーマン in end of the phrase in Okinawa. refs: http://www.okinawainfo.net/uchinaguci1.htm ...


6

A couple of "gotchas" that I've noticed that are easily confused are: The sounds of "x" or "ecks" within a word are usually written as キ instead of ク, but not 100% of the time. "Text" → テキスト, not テクスト "Mexico" → メキシコ, not メクシコ "Expert" → エキスパート, not エクスパート But "Express" → エクスプレス, not エキスプレス Different sounds of the English 'a' usually produce a ャ ...



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