- ナイーブ (naību): innocent, pure
- Naïve: a person showing a lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment
The integration and adaptation of naïve into the Japanese language have more to do with Japanese conventional values than an evolution of the original meaning of the word, as we have seen with other cases.
In the original French, naïve has a negative connotation, whereas, in Japanese, it has a positive and almost complimentary one. Childish and innocent, through the lens of culture, would come to mean considerate, soft, or pure. “Because this child is naive” in Japanese would be a reference to a vulnerable child, someone you would want to protect.
The word has also been adopted by marketers in Japan with such noticeable examples as a now popular gentle-for-skin soap.
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.
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