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The Meaning of Naisu (ナイス) — Revealed!

Japanese has a reputation as an insular language, and beginners are often convinced it’s earned. but regular readers of the Linguaholic blog won’t be surprised that its chock full of words borrowed from other languages. Some of these, like 天ぷら (tempura), have been around in Japanese for so long they masquerade as native Japanese words. …

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Padoru (Meme): Meaning & What It Has to Do With Christmas!

Like countries the world over, Japan has a robust group of subcultures. The obvious example is anime and video game fans, known in Japan as otaku. These people have many traditions, jokes and cultural references that will make literally zero sense to your average Japanese person. It goes without saying that there are thriving communities …

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The Meaning of “Kokujin” (黒人) in Japanese

Some Japanese words are complicated to use, but easy to understand. Others are simple to use but have complicated contexts. In this post, we’ll look at one of the latter, the word 黒人 (kokujin).   What does the word 黒人 (kokujin) mean in Japanese? The word 黒人 (kokujin) means a person with black skin. It …

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“Mononoke” (in Princess Mononoke) – A Linguistic Note

Anyone who’s a fan of animation is probably a fan of Studio Ghibli films, and anyone who’s a fan of Studio Ghibli films has heard the name “Princess Mononoke.” It’s one of the most popular animated films of all time. Heck, it’s one of the few Japanese animated films that Roger Ebert truly loved. But …

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7 Ways to Say “Oh My God” in Japanese

Expressions like “Oh my god!” might seem universal, but actually they’re tied to culturally specific things we often take for granted. The use of “God,” for example, assumes that everyone ascribes to a monotheistic religion like Christianity. In Japan, that’s certainly not the case. A 2015 survey from Statista found that only 1.5% of the …

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