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
kurippu : paper clip
pasokon : personal computer
ofisu : office
purintaa : printer
arubamu : photo album
konbini : convenience store

hotto rain : hotline
taipuraita : typewriter
haado-uea : hardware
puroguraame : program
doraggu : drugs
nyuu takkusu : new tax
happi-endo : happy ending
posutokaado : postcard
hanbaagaa : hamburger
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

2.hoteru

3.sakkaa

4.hottodoggu

5.meron

6.biiru

7.koora

8.kurisumasu

9.guddoba

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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