Questions tagged [loanwords]

外来語. Words brought into Japanese from languages other than Chinese.

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4 answers
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Why doesn't Japanese have a special Katakana form for "hu"?

They have created many new Katakana words such as ファ フィ ヴァ ヴィ ティ テゥ to write foreign sounds. But why didn't they create a new combination for "hu" such as ハゥ or ホゥ? Instead they use the same kana for "...
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9 votes
2 answers
696 views

What causes loan words to displace native words for existing concepts?

I've been told several times that things like class and classmate don't have non-loan words (I don't know what those are called) associated with them in Japanese. This seems ludicrous to me, as the ...
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10 votes
4 answers
516 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 ...
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14 votes
2 answers
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Do Japanese actually pronounce the "v" sound?

Do Japanese actually pronounce the "v" sound? They do have a kana character (ヴ) dedicated to transcribing foreign "v" sounds, but do they actually pronounce them like the English phoneme /v/ (using ...
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11 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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  • 5,070
12 votes
5 answers
849 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 votes
4 answers
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What changes are made to the pronunciation of gairaigo?

What changes are usually made to the pronunciation 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)), ...
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8 votes
1 answer
271 views

What is nuance of using 外来語 for simple nouns?

I've been wondering lately about the usage of 外来語 that seem especially redundant, such as ドライバー instead of ねじ回し, ヘア instead of 毛, or マップ instead of 地図. I understand many of the purposes of 外来語 when a ...
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18 votes
2 answers
11k 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'. ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Do loanwords have a more formal/technical/"soulless" feel compared to their native counterparts?

Among Russian speakers, there are some rather strong opinions on loanwords. It is often said that they ruin the beauty of your speech, obscure the meaning of what you're saying and just generally seem ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Is there a defined cause for the recent rise in the popularity of gairaigo?

I was looking on the web for Japanese graphic design and found some pre-WWII material. Then I saw some more recent advertisement material. Comparing the two eras, I notice a difference that was beyond ...
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  • 225
4 votes
4 answers
603 views

Why do some loanword sounds get "contracted" when katakanized, but not others?

Not sure the best way to word this. Why is it that some sounds from a loanword get combined down to a shorter or different sound while other do not? Here are some examples: Shortened, but sound ...
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3 votes
2 answers
493 views

Why is ホームシック a noun, not a な-adjective?

In class, I was told that ホームシック is a noun, not a な-adjective. ホームシックの時、何をしますか。 By contrast, the closest English word to "ホームシック", which is "homesick", is an adjective. Why is ホームシック a noun? Is it ...
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4 votes
1 answer
463 views

The process behind キャ in loanwords from English

I'm curious why many English words that are borrowed into Japanese which have the "ca" sound as in "can" or "canvas" end up with that being mapped to キャ: キャンバス (canvas) キャビネット (cabinet) キャンセル (cancel)...
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22 votes
3 answers
3k 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 ...
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9 votes
6 answers
502 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 ...
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9 votes
2 answers
587 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 has ...
9 votes
1 answer
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Why aren't マンション mansions? Or are they?

And no, this isn't about property sizes in Japan! As Katakana Mysteries: 6 loan words Japan got wrong put it: Bill Gates or Warren Buffet might be very surprised if they were to buy a Japanese ...
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8 votes
2 answers
3k 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 ...
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1 vote
1 answer
182 views

Why is there ベッドルーム when there's already 寝室? [duplicate]

I was trying to find house vocabulary and found multiple (from my perspective) synonyms (where the synonyms sounded like English). For example, ベッドルーム and 寝室, as well as キッチン and 台所, as well as バスルーム ...
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25 votes
5 answers
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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 ...
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15 votes
2 answers
715 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 ...
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17 votes
2 answers
1k views

How would I know whether a word existed and was commonly used N years ago?

Suppose I'm writing a novel that takes place N years ago, say N = 80. Given the dramatic increase of loanwords in the past century, especially from English, what would be the best way (if there is any)...
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  • 7,720
7 votes
2 answers
701 views

Meaning of 変なテンション

What does 変なテンション describe? To my limited understanding, the expression is used by a person who observes a テンション高い person but fails to understand why that person is テンション高い. Am I mistaken? Or is ...
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21 votes
4 answers
7k 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 ...
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14 votes
4 answers
2k 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?
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14 votes
2 answers
2k 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 ...
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14 votes
1 answer
260 views

Did the Japanese have a concept of "Asia" apart from the Eurocentric definition?

Japan had contact with China, India and the Mongols, among others. Is there a term they used for Asia (in the sense of "land mass where China is" or such) before "アジア"?
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  • 141
11 votes
3 answers
718 views

Why is this katakana not reversed?

Just saw this image about Nintendo on Kotaku: Clearly the company name, description, and location are written in traditional right-to-left orientation. Even かるた is right-to-left. So why is トランプ ...
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8 votes
1 answer
838 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 ...
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6 votes
1 answer
3k views

What are the reasons for the huge amount of loanwords in Japanese?

It seems that Japanese has far more loanwords than any other language I've heard spoken. I understand that English is far-reaching and a global language, but are there many known reasons that English ...
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  • 2,721
15 votes
1 answer
1k 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 ...
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8 votes
2 answers
421 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 ...
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5 votes
2 answers
946 views

Pronunciation of W

I often see the alphabet W being transcribed or pronounced as "ダブル" rather than "ダブリュー" in Japanese, and I think that in most cases, that was not what was meant. Indeed, there seems to be a practice ...
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5 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is the most common word used for 'idea'?

Pretty sure I've mostly seen idea as アイデア Does anyone know of other words used for 'idea' and if possible any example sentences and contexts where different words are used?
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4 votes
3 answers
315 views

Standard for writing/pronouncing loanwords: ウインドー v.s. ウィンドウ, etc

In スーパー大辞林 I found: ウインドー [0] 〖window〗 (1)窓。 (2)ショー-ウインドーの略。陳列窓。 (3)コンピューターのディスプレー画面上で情報の表示されている部分。画面をいくつかの部分に分割し,それぞれに異なった情報を表示する方式をマルチ-ウインドーという。 In Wikipedia I found: Microsoft Windows(...
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  • 1,601
3 votes
1 answer
2k views

Should I use スタート for "start a new game" or something else?

I want to say, "Are you sure you want to start a new game?" (I'm developing a game for Japanese users, and this question is asked when it finishes.) I'm not sure whether スタート is the correct word to ...
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24 votes
1 answer
19k 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 ...
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  • 6,363
16 votes
4 answers
2k 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?
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13 votes
6 answers
293 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 ...
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  • 6,861
11 votes
1 answer
885 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 ...
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  • 457
11 votes
2 answers
1k views

Meaning of イメージ in context of disclaimer

I saw a disclaimer at the bottom of a tourist brochure about ryokans, which in English was "The photo on this page is an image", and in Japanese "掲載の写真はイメージです。" At the end of the brochure, they had "...
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11 votes
7 answers
10k 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 ...
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9 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why do the Japanese use loanwords for words that have functional equivalents?

It strikes me, reading Japanese that katakana is often used for words that have functional equivalents in the Japanese language. Why is this? For instance, using ビル as opposed to 建物。 Or ブルー instead ...
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9 votes
3 answers
3k views

Is 人孔 from English?

I was discussing with a friend about the word 人孔, and I know I read (or was told) that it's taken from the English "manhole", literally juxtaposing the kanji for "man" with that for "hole", since for ...
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  • 2,859
7 votes
1 answer
378 views

Katakana loanwords: is there data about their creation/evolution and acceptance as "new Japanese words"?

Disclaimer: This is a topic that I hold particularly dear. This question is related to data so that it is acceptable for this community. However, as a languages enthusiast, what deeply concerns me is ...
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  • 7,720
7 votes
3 answers
3k 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 ...
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5 votes
4 answers
2k views

What is the etymology of the word Katsu?

I heard from an English man that the katsu karē (カツカレー) dish was from English inspiration originally: he told me that the word 'katsu' is coming from cutlet and 'karē' would be curry. Please can ...
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  • 151
5 votes
1 answer
322 views

Does 被【かぶ】る have any relation to "cover"?

Topic. I've heard/seen somewhere that 被【かぶ】る was "gairaigo-fied" (?) from the English word "cover" (similar to ダブる or デモる), and then presumably given ateji from 被【おお】う since the meanings overlap so ...
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5 votes
1 answer
429 views

Why are there very few non-する gairaigo verbs in Japanese?

I can think of many gairaigo noun + する verbs in Japanese, like ゴルフする, but I can think of only a handful of non-する verbs in Japanese, such as ググる (mentioned in Are there words which consist of katakana ...
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