Words index  Vivian Cook

English words in Japanese

Though many English words have been borrowed into Japanese, most cannot be recognised even when they are written in the Japanese alphabetic script (romaji). The reason is the differences between Japanese and English pronunciation. Japanese syllables only have a single consonant and never end in a consonant apart from ‘n’, ‘ta’, ‘do’ etc, never ‘tat’, ‘tra’ etc. So English words borrowed into Japanese tend to be padded out with extra vowels to separate the consonants and to end in a vowel, for example ‘supana’ (spanner). Japanese also makes no distinction between ‘r’ and ‘l’, yielding ‘teberu’ (table). Finally Japanese goes in for shortening long words, ‘sekuhara’ (sexual harassment)

Here are some common Japanese words with their English equivalent.

Sutoraki : strike Sarariman : salaryman (i.e. company worker)
Suteshon : station pasokon : personal computer
Nekutai : neckties Apato : apartment
Gurin-Piisu : green peas Tafu : tough (meaning strong)
Sandoicchiman : sandwichman Rajio : radio
pasokon : personal computer kurippu : paper clip
ofisu : office purintaa : printer
purintaa : printer arubamu : photo album
hotto rain : hotline

konbini : convenience store

Taipuraita : typewriter Haado-uea : hardware
Puroguraame : program Doraggu : drugs
Nyuu takkusu : new tax Happi-endo : happy ending
Hanbaagaa : hamburger

posutokaado : postcard

Muudi : moody (pleasant and cosy) Teberu : table
Bosu : boss (gangleader) Waa-puro :word processor
Saidaa : cider (lemonade) famiresu : family restaurant
Seroteepu : sellotape supana : spa

Now see if you can guess what English words these Japanese words come from. Warning: they may not necessarily have the same meaning. Answers below

1.elebeetaa 6.biiru
2.hoteru 7.koora
3.sakkaa 8.kurisumasu
4.hottodoggu 9.guddoba
5.meron. 10.kyattu fuudo

Answers: 1 elevator, 2. hotel, 3. soccer, 4. hotdog, 5. melon, 6.beer, 7. cola 8. Christmas, 9. goodbye, 10. cat food

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