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Why is my game using エナジー for "energy" instead of エネルギー?

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Basically what I know エナジー & エネルギー both are gairaigo words & interchangeable (shown up as alternative of each other in dictionary), but they have different origins.

1) エナジー originated from English term "energy", commonly used to refer both "mental powers", "spiritual powers" & "physical powers" (broader meaning).

2) エネルギー originated from German term "Energie", specifically means "physical powers" as at the time of its invention, "power" associated to scientific physical activity.

There is another explanation from Japanese loanwords history:

エネルギー is one of the German based loanwords that were imported into Japanese as part of the modernization effort. At that time, German had more presence in science than today.

エナジー was imported from English. I think it's a relatively new katakana word, like a few decades old. As such, it feels newer and therefore cooler than エネルギー.

So, in your case, if the word refers to mental or spiritual powers, "エナジー" is more preferred term. For usage in science (related with physics phenomena), "エネルギー" is more commonly used (you can see in this Japanese Wikipedia of 'energy').

References:

energyという単語はエナジーとエネルギー。

エネルギーとエナジーの違いを教えてください。

  • Thanks! Obviously the katakana エナジー makes sense to me; I just thought "energy" always had to be エネルギー. Didn't know about the German origin of the latter either. – istrasci Sep 12 '17 at 15:19
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It's just simple.

We Japanese usually use 'エネルギー', because it is 'traditional' gairaigo. 'エナジー' is not a daily word for most Japanese people.

In novels/games/movies and so on, we sometimes use 'エナジー' for extraordinary feelings.

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I tried to look it up in dictionaries, and エナジー is listed both in the Daijirin and the Kenkyusha dictionary as an alternative to エネルギー. It just seems an alternative way to transcribe the English word "energy".

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To me エネルギー sounds like energy in the scientific meaning (kWh), whereas エナジー more like energy in "being energetic", so I would use 再生可能エネルギー (renewable energy), but エナジードリンク (energy drink).

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