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Category: Katakana English
27 Feb

Katakana English: スマート and Smart

スマート (sumāto): thin, slim, slender Smart: intelligent, witty In Japanese, スマート makes no reference to the intellect or fashion sense but to a person’s physical appearance; it is used to refer to a slim or slender figure. The Meiji Era is known for Japan’s opening to everything foreign, from politics and technology, to art and..

20 Feb

Katakana English: ナイーブ and Naïve

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..

13 Feb

Katakana English: デマ and Demagogie

  デマ (dema): unfounded rumor Demagogie: from German, political practices that seek support by appealing to emotions rather than by using rational arguments.   デマ was coined in the Showa period as an abbreviation of the German term “demagogie”. Although a political and social term at first, when integrated into the Japanese language, only the..

06 Feb

Katakana English: サービス and Service

  サービス (sabisu): free of charge or discount Service: action of helping or doing work for someone   According to a Japanese idiom, the customer is not king, the customer is god. From greetings when entering a shop, having your change counted in front of you or bowing, it’s easy to get used to incredibly..

30 Jan

Katakana English: オフィス変 #1

This week’s #KatakanaEnglish is slightly different. Instead of focusing on foreign words that have changed their meaning, we have selected 5 every day (loan)words that you will hear in a Japanese office and might make you giggle.     オフィス変 (ofisu hen) literally means “weird in the office”. It is a bit of a wordplay..

23 Jan

Katakana English: タレント and Talent

日本語はこちら 。Please click here for the Japanese version of this post.   タレント (tarento): celebrity frequently appearing on the radio or TV Talent: natural aptitude or skill, often athletic, creative or artistic   You turn on the TV and the same people seem to appear in each and every program. They are not gifted piano players nor actors,..

16 Jan

Katakana English: サイダー and Cider

日本語はこちら 。Please click here for the Japanese version of this post.   サイダー  (saida): soft drink, citric flavored carbonated water. Cider:  alcoholic drink popular in the UK, made from fermented apples Carbonated drinks made their first appearance in Japan in 1868, when the British North & Ray Trading Company opened their first store in Yokohama. They sold sodas,..

09 Jan

Katakana English: アベック and Avec

日本語はこちら 。Please click here for the Japanese version of this post.   アベック (abekku): pair, usually referring to an unmarried heterosexual couple Avec: from French, the preposition “with”   The term アベック, borrowed from French movies, was commonly used since the 1920s to refer to married couples or same-sex friends together in public. It was..

19 Dec

Katakana English: アルバイト and Arbeit

日本語はこちら。 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..

12 Dec

Katakana English: テンション and Tension

  日本語はこちら。 Tension: pressure テンション (tenshon): mood, spirits, energy As opposed to the negative connotation that tension has in the English language, テンションrefers to the high or low level of energy someone might have. The explanation seems to come from the music world, where adding tension refers to building excitement and anticipation for what is..