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Loanwords in the Japanese Language !!

Hattori Hanzo

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Loandwords in the Japanese language

Japanese can be really funny..when I first heard some of the english loan words in Japanese, I was like...wtf?  :=)

Dou you know some funny loanwords ? I will get you going with some:

ice cream  -  aisu kurīmu                  (from English)

apartment –    apato                            (obviously from Englsih too)

arbeiten    -    arubeito / beito          (from German, my favorite one haha)

butter      -    batā                              (from English)

computer  -    konpyūta                    (from English)

fight          -  faito                            (from English)

to google  -    guguru                        (from English) 

number display -  nanbādisupurei         (from English)

I just put English and Romaji to keep things simple. Feel free to provide the rest if you feel like it ^^ I am looking forward to hear some different funny loanword!

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Hey guys

Yes, this is all for real. If you are not familiar with the Japanese language, it is pretty easy to think that those translations are a joke..but trust me, it is not :=)

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  • 2 weeks later...

The Japanese have been borrowing vocabulary from other languages for thousands of years. They have been doing this with Chinese for a very, very long time; adapting Chinese words to Japanese pronunciation and grammar. Now it's the English language's turn.

There are some rather interesting loanwords from other languages besides English. I remember a common slang word for "couple" that was written in katakana; "abekku" from the French word "avec". The Japanese turned a simple French preposition "avec" or "with" into a full-fledged Japanese word!

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Let me share another one here: the german word Impotenz (impotence). In Japanese it has the same meaning as in English or German and it is written インポ  (impo).

Yes, the Japanese are really innovative when it comes to adapting loanwords to fit their own native phonological structure. They turned "sexual harassment" into "sekuhara", written セクハラ in katakana. You often do not realize that the word is of foreign origin.

Then there's my favorite; "mazakon" or マザコン meaning either "Oedipus complex" or else a "Mama's boy". This comes from the English "mother complex".

Finally there's ロリコン or "rorikon" meaning "Lolita complex". The Japanese are amazingly adept at manipulating the phonology of loanwords and there are thousands of them from English, French, German, Italian and other European languages (but mostly English nowadays) and not to mention many ancient ones from Chinese.

I'll think of some more as we go along.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Loanwords in Japanese are one of the reasons why katakana is so useful. Even if you don't know anything except from katakana, you'll still recognize something.

My favorite loanwords in Japanese must be ダイイング·メッセージ (daingu messeeji) which means "dying message". Isn't it just lovely?

Also, if you watched Sailor Moon when you were a child, you might remember ミラクル ロマンス (mirakuru romansu) from their opening song :D

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There's so many loanwords in Japanese, that we could go on for days. As new terminology come into existence, the Japanese will adapt it right away. Katakana really are a wondrous thing.

Additionally, there's stuff you never hear in everyday English, such as スキンシップ (sukinshippu -> skinship), which gets far more usage in Japanese. It's odd, really.

I also wonder how they decide which language to take a word from. For example, the term for an elementary schooler's backpack, ランドセル (randoseru), is supposedly taken from the Dutch word ransel. That's an odd way to put it in katakana, too.

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  • 5 months later...

Finally there's ロリコン or "rorikon" meaning "Lolita complex".

Man, you beat me to it.  :laugh:  This is probably the most overused loanword especially to otakus due to the freaking "moe" phenomenon.

But it's true, aside from actual English words being pronounced in Japanese, there are several words derived from English that originated in Japan. Here are some examples: 

Salaryman (サラリーマン) - an educated worker who performs semi-professional office work, usually referring to entry-level office positions. Definitely an English word but a term you won't encounter in native English-speaking countries.

Rabu Rabu (ラブラブ) - lovey dovey. Often used in films and dramas when referring to sweethearts getting, well, lovey dovey. XD

Gyaru (ギャル) - gal or fashionable girl.

Konbini (コンビニ) - convenience store. Yeah, the word store is basically taken out of the equation lol.

Cosplay (コスプレ) - We can't talk about loanwords without mentioning this term. Probably the most famous Portmanteau that originated from Japan.

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