McWhorter, J. PhD Linguistics (Stanford). The Power of Babel (2003). p. 293 Bottom.

  For example, the words in Thai for fire, die, and rim are faj, taaj, and rim, just by accident! Long lists have been composed of correspondences like this between hopelessly disparate languages; it can be almost funny. According to the Proto-World advocates’ modus operandi-allowance for stark differences in word shape and a permissive position on what constitutes related meaning— English and Japanese could be shown to have a historical relationship according to these words I have always noticed:

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Please see the red arrow for あつい. I can't replicate tables quickly with Markdown.

  • In the same spirit, the verb 歩く(あるく)=to walk is close to its English equivalent and even closer to the Cauchois dialect "arquer" (in French : marcher). I don't know if a root -ark- has been identified in proto-nostratic or any other hypothetitical macrofamily of languages. Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 9:24
  • Most of the others on that list are pretty forced too, even if unlike "atsui" and "hot" their pronunciations actually somewhat resemble each other.
    – Gene
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 21:30

2 Answers 2


In speech, the word あつい can be pronounced like あちぃ, あっちぃ, あちちち, あっつー, あちぇー, あっつぇー, あちゃちゃちゃ and so on (see this and this). However I don't know what [ott-SOO-ee] represents, and IMHO no variation of あつい sounds even close to English "hot".

While Japanese namae vs English name is a famous example of false cognate, this list includes many obviously far-fetched examples. I don't think you should take them too seriously.

  • There is an English expression for the sound one would make when wiping sweat from the forehead on a hot day. The sound is "fiyoo" though I can not imagine the spelling at the moment (maybe "fwiw!"). The expression is often found in comics. In my mind I think the sound is like a drawn out つ.
    – user3169
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 3:13
  • that English word is "phew!" Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 4:21
  • @naruto is right, this list of false cognates is VERY loose in its acceptance of words that sound similar and have similar meanings. The only way "atsui" could be imagined to sound like "hot" is if you intentionally de-voice the "h" in "hot" AND de-voice the "sui" in atsui :P I call shenanigans. Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 4:26

Note the author's pronunciation guide [ott-SOO-ee] is only on the word あつい. He is indicating that the sound of "hot" and あつい are similar because of the "ott" sound. To see the similarity, try saying 「hotつい」.

  • 6
    For the record, I'm not saying I agree with the author's analysis. I'm just answering the question at hand.
    – By137
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 7:35
  • The author's analysis was intended as sarcasm anyways, so I'd take this :-D
    – xuq01
    Commented Aug 5, 2018 at 15:31

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