35 votes
Accepted

Is the Japanese word "pan" (パン) related in its origins to the Spanish word "pan"?

According to jisho.org パン has its origins from the Portuguese word “pão”, and was originally written as 麺麭 or 麪包 before being written as パン like it is today. Is this pure coincidence or do they ...
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  • 6,953
24 votes
Accepted

How to pronounce the English alphabet? (A, B, C, ...)

I share your experience. Sticking straight to the katakana pronunciation below, I have never had the problem of someone not understanding me any more. I believe this is the pronunciation currently ...
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  • 47.4k
23 votes

Why does 'アプリストア’ mean appstore?

The word app in Japanese is 'アプリケーション', which gets shortened to 'アプリ', rather than just 'アップ' as one might expect coming from English. Therefore the word for app store is, as you'd expect, the word ...
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  • 495
21 votes
Accepted

Does トイレ refer to the British "toilet" or the American "toilet"?

When a word is loaned by another language, it is not always true that a loan word has the exact same meaning as the original word. You have to know how it is used in Japanese to know what it means in ...
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  • 2,078
21 votes

Is the Japanese word "pan" (パン) related in its origins to the Spanish word "pan"?

This is not pure coincidence, but the Japanese did not get the word パン from Spanish, but rather Portuguese. The coincidence part is that Spanish and Portuguese are very closely related languages and ...
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  • 7,576
21 votes
Accepted

What's the original Japanese word for door, other than the loanword ドア?

Your suspicion is leading you down the right path. ドア is in fact a loanword from English. According to Jisho.org, ドア is used in reference to a Western-style door. This is a door that opens on ...
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  • 6,953
19 votes

Do Japanese actually pronounce the "v" sound?

I think on reading ヴァ, ヴィ, etc., people usually try to pronounce it differently from バ, ビ, etc., but with varying success. In fact, I think most Japanese that try to distinguish ヴァ and バ pronounce ...
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  • 47.4k
18 votes
Accepted

Which language レシート is adapted from?

Derivation of レシート Numerous dictionaries state that レシート is from English receipt. See, for instance, the Dajisen and Daijirin entries visible here at Kotobank (in Japanese), or here at Wiktionary (...
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17 votes

Why is "Wikipedia" written as ウィキペディア instead of ワィキペディア?

ウィ is the standard way of transcribing [wi] or [wɪ]. Similarly ウェ is used for [wɛ] (for example website → ウェブサイト) and ウォ for [wɒ] or [wɔ] (for example wombat → ウォンバット or walkman ウォークマン). Here ウ is ...
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  • 47.4k
15 votes
Accepted

Does ガス also mean gasoline in Japanese?

While it does appear in the Japanese dictionaries with the meaning of "gasoline", I would say it is not common to use it like in English, except for a few special cases like ガス欠{けつ}(being out of fuel) ...
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  • 2,194
15 votes
Accepted

Why is beatboxing called 「ヒューマンビートボックス」?

The term is a loanword from the English term human beatbox or beat box: a person that makes musical sounds using the human vocal organs. The abbreviated term is beatbox or beat box. The performer is ...
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  • 6,587
14 votes
Accepted

Transitive English words becoming intransitive 外来語

There should be exceptions, but I suppose this is largely based on the transitivity of the original Japanese verb before it was replaced by the loanword. (~に)キスする = (~に)口づけする (~に)アクセスする = (~に)進入する/...
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  • 270k
14 votes

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

Short Answer: As for the Japanese language, we didn't have such a word and I don't think we should have had. Ancient Japanese only knew as far as India, that means they only knew one "landmass" in ...
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13 votes

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

Snailboat's answer is based more on "conservative" Japanese where /ɸ/ is not a phoneme. However in younger people's Japanese, /ɸ/ and /h/ are distinguished before all vowels other than /u/: ...
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  • 3,005
12 votes
Accepted

Are Japanese terms for the United States and the Soviet Union likely to be confused by native speakers of Japanese?

That's not likely to happen, as long as the survey was conducted in Japanese. USA → アメリカ, 米国{べいこく} As like most nations outside US do, we prefer to abbreviate the country's name to toponym. USSR → ソ連{...
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12 votes
Accepted

How can the well-known Tintin become タンタン in Japanese?

The タンタン rendering has a lot to do with the source French pronunciation, [[tɛ̃tɛ̃]]. The [[ɛ]] vowel in the International Phonetic Alphabet is the open-mid front unrounded vowel, halfway between [[a]]...
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12 votes

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

BCCWJ is a corpus of written Japanese and you can search it here. Type the word in the search box and you can see the published year of the texts in which the word was used. However, it focuses on ...
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  • 340
11 votes

Words that have been borrowed twice, with different pronunciations?

This is a community wiki post. cup コップ drinking cup カップ coffee cup, etc. iron アイロン clothes iron アイアン metal iron (Fe) lemonade ラムネ nativized fruit-flavored pop soda レモネード lemonade machine ミシン ...
11 votes

Are there any common Japanese words which were borrowed from Ainu or other indigenous languages?

Most Ainu loanwords in regular use are names for plants/animals indigenous to northern Japan, such as reindeer (トナカイ) and sea otter (ラッコ). These loans are old enough that there are usually kanji that ...
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  • 141
11 votes

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

Use アイディア (or アイデア) when it's replaceable with resolution, suggestion, etc. If you really want to avoid loanwords, you can use "(良い)考え". What shall we do? Do you have any idea? 何しよう? ...
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  • 270k
11 votes

Why would Russian хорошо [xoroʂo] be borrowed as ハラショー?

Because хорошо is pronounced just like ハラショ. http://ja.forvo.com/word/хорошо/
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  • 1,483
11 votes
Accepted

What differences are there between the English word "memo" and the Japanese word "メモ"?

I don't think that メモ is ever used to mean anything that translates to, or related to, the English word memory. As for me, I have always thought of its etymology as English memorandum, and every ...
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  • 3,076
10 votes
Accepted

Is マラソン always 42.195 km?

マラソン by its own strictly means running 42.195 km, as long as it is used as the name of professional athletic competitions. For example, "10000m走" (10,000 metres) is never マラソン. 長距離走【ちょうきょりそう】 is the ...
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  • 270k
10 votes

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

Actually there are several English-origin words that effectively took the place of traditional Japanese words in the last 100 years or so. (Hereafter, traditional words mean both 漢語 and 和語—whatever ...
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  • 270k
10 votes
Accepted

Can the English suffix "-zilla" be translated back into Japanese?

I remember that this "-zilla" caught on for some reason among English-speaking people, and appeared in several software names such as Mozilla, Bugzilla, FileZilla. English Wikipedia even has a page ...
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  • 270k

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