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Native English speakers sometimes mix up Austria and Australia (example).

Do native Japanese speakers sometimes mix up "オーストリア" and "オーストラリア"?

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    I've heard a native Japanese speaker mix up スウェーデン and スイス while acting as an interpreter... But then again, they're both Europe, so it might be a geography problem rather than a pronunciation one. Apr 30, 2016 at 7:54
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    Australia building fence at Slovenian border (T▽T)
    – chocolate
    Apr 30, 2016 at 8:26
  • @Stenomatisk that mistake is also mentioned for English-speakers in reddit.com/r/europe/comments/3goamj/…
    – Golden Cuy
    Apr 30, 2016 at 8:45
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    I guess that Austria is Kangaroo's land and Australia is kiwi's land. :^(
    – nariuji
    Apr 30, 2016 at 9:59
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    @Stenomatisk I guess it's Chinese that Sweden(瑞典) and Switzerland(瑞士) are confusing. I don't think スウェーデン and スイス are that much unless written in kanji. Apr 30, 2016 at 12:09

3 Answers 3

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Yes, many people do. The katakana transcriptions of them are based on English, and so they sound.

There are other confusing country names in Japanese such as アルバニア{Albania} and アルメニア{Armenia}, アイルランド{Ireland} and アイスランド{Iceland}, or ウルグアイ{Uruguay} and パラグアイ{Paraguay}, but this one is especially infamous because both countries are well-known ones and likely to be on everybody's lips including those who're not particularly into geography.

If you write them in kanji, European Austria is 墺【おう】 and Oceanian Australia is 豪【ごう】 (濠) so there's no confusion. But the problem is Austrian 墺 is relatively less known and if you explain that it means "Austria", the chaos starts over again.


Further reading: Runaway 'kangaroo' spotted in Austrian garden

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  • I confuse Iberia with Liberia. In the case of Albania, there are two name of country, Balkan state and ancient Caucasian Albania, so that is more complicated.
    – nariuji
    May 1, 2016 at 7:18
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Any Japanese who knows Austria and Australia are different countries wouldn't confuse them. We pronounce Austria as オーストリア, オーストリヤ, or オーストリー (elder genaration tends to call this way. Conversly younger generation calls Italy as イタリー、while elder genaration tends to call it イタリヤ), and Australia as オーストラリア with a clear vocal distinction.

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It can happen in Japanese just like it can happen in English.

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