- Arbeit: from German, work, job
- アルバイト (arubaito): part-time job or worker
Not all foreign words used in (and adapted to) Japanese come from English. Arbeit, which means work in German, is one example.
During the Meiji era, the German Constitution served as a model for the Japanese and Japan was therefore strongly influenced by the German language. This allowed the usage of German words in everyday Japanese. アルバイト, originally used amongst students, was used to refer to tutoring.
This term evolved into meaning part-time jobs or part-time workers as opposed to 正社員 (seishain), which literally means real company member. Though it initially had a negative connotation, particularly during the Lost 20 Years (Japanese financial crisis, 1991 to 2010), part-time work has now become more popular among the younger Japanese generation, as it offers some freedom that is more difficult to find in a full-time job.
As a side note, アルバイト is also the Japanese word for albite, the mineral.
This article is part of the weekly Katakana English series, where we discuss Japanese words borrowed (mostly) from English that have acquired a different meaning. For questions or comments, please click here.