Interesting Etymologies 13 : Japanese

"Hello again Word Lovers!"

Or should we say "Konichiwa" as today we are looking at Japanese. Charly doesn't know if you speak Japanese, but actually he does know, as there are many Japanese words that have found their way into other languages.

Just some examples to begin with:

Typhoon, tsunami, karaoke, manga, anime, origami, bonsai, samurai, ninja, yakuza and so on...

Haiku, Futon and Koi

Food words: Sake, Ramen, Tempura, Sushi (Which actually means "sour rice" or "rice in vinegar" not raw fish! Wasabi, Teriyaki.

Suicide : Seppuku/Hara Kiri (ceremonial suicide by falling on your sword - Setsu - to cut Fuku - abdomen), Kamikaze (Divine Wind - From two great storms that saved Japan from the impending invasion of the Mongol fleet of Kublai Kahn)

Geisha (Gei - performing arts Sha - person) originally any artist

Types of theatre : Noh, Nong and Kabuki

Words of Etymological interest:

Japanese have incorporated words from English:

Sony: combining Latin Sonus: sound with Sunny.

Purraibashi transliteration of privacy

Sarariman transliteration of Salary Man, man with a job.

This demonstrates a feature of Japanese, when words are taken from other languages they obey Japanese spelling rules. One such rule is that two consonants cannot feature together. (Ed - What about PuRRa?)

Privacy : Pri becomes Purrai and vacy becomes bashi

Another rule is that words must end in a vowel with exception to "n" (Nippon)

Chris becomes Kurisu

Compound words:

Fujiyama : Fuji - Fire, luck or happiness. Yama - Mountain

Honda : Rice Paddy (Was the surname of the founder)

Mitsubishi : Literally Three Diamonds, which is the logo of the company

Some words to translate back to English:

Now we know we can see many words come from English into Japanese and we can see some of the spelling rules that are obeyed, here are some words that you might be able to identify (Watch the video or listen to he podcast to find the answers)

Miruku :






Further examples can be found on the pod., including Aisukuriimu which is ice cream

Verb formation:

Adding "suru" after the word forms a verb in Japanese.

Doraibu suru -- to drive

Kisu suru --- to kiss

Nokku suru -- to knock

Taipu suru -- to type

This curious cross pollination of Japanese and European languages mean that we probably know a lot more Japanese than we first thought!

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