Monday, June 06, 2011

Japanese Words in English

Modern languages such as English are continually changing and adding new words and phrases.  Many of these new words originated in one language, were adopted and adapted in a second, and then return to the original language.  Anime is such a word.  Its derives from the English word "animation."  Then it was adopted by the Japanese and adapted to mean a "style of animation characterized by colorful art, futuristic settings, violence, and sex." Now anime has traveled back to English.

The list below is a sample of Japanese words that are now freely used in English.

Bento : a Japanese lunch box of a Japanese-style packed lunches often with small compartments.

Futon: type of mattress used as a bed which can often be folded into a couch.

Haiku: a three line poetry format consisting of five, seven, and five syllables.

Hibatchi:  small portable charcoal grill.

Judo: a system of unarmed combat using the principles of movement and balance and practiced as a sport or exercise.

Karaoke:  literally "empty orchestra." an entertainment form where people sing popular songs with a recorded back-up music.

Origami:  art  of Japanese paper folding into decorative shapes or objects.

Sayonara:  Good-bye.

Sensei: in English often applied to the martial arts instructor, but actually professor/doctor of someone who has achieved mastery of an art.

Zen: a branch of Buddhism emphasizing meditation and personal awareness.

Who knows what the next word to travel from Japanese to English will be? CDPL has some books and recordings to help you learn and speak Japanese and be ready:
Japanese Demystified by Eriko Sato
Conversational Japanese in 7 Days by Etsuko Tsujita
What Does the Rooster Say, Yoshio? by Edith Battles

Byard, Linda. "Japanese Words adopted by the English Language." 25 May 2011.    

1 comment:

Lisa at Real Club Cancun said...

Wow that is really interesting. I never really thought about it but you are right, we use these words in English everyday without even considering their origin. I was even surprised to see Futon on the list but, well, DUH! on me!! LOL