Make a Vintage Name for Your Brand

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When deciding on a name for your firm or event, there are some useful pointers that would definitely be tacky. Tacky can be understood in two ways, depending on your target audience. According to some English speakers in the United States, tacky means “sticky” – just like superglue. However to some English speakers, “tacky” can be perceived in a bad light – describing something as being too flashy due to bad taste. In the business sense, there is one language that appears to stand out – French. This is not surprising as many property developers or business proprietors in Asia employ French when naming new apartments, restaurants, boutiques, retail products and even events! Examples include Laneige, Etude House, Shiseido’s Maquillage cosmetic series, Saveur and Poulet.

Connoisseur-A Blend of English and other language


However, there are also business enterprises which adopt a blend of English and another foreign language. For instance, this phenomenon is reflected in The Connoisseur Concerto and Spayuri. This trend of using pseudo-French or pseudo-Japanese names for businesses aims to exploit the sophistication of French and Japanese cultural stereotypes. In short, property developers in Asia mentioned that using a foreign language adds value to their development, reflecting elegance and prestige of the dwellings. Other Asian businesses seem to utilize this value adding feature as part of their branding efforts. This is especially ubiquitous in the beauty industry.

Etude House- Skincare Brand with a French Name


“Etude” (Etude House) which is a French word – étude, also refers to a musical composition. The meaning that Etude House aims to convey is their aim to beautify young women through their alluring products, similar to the beautiful composition by famous composer Frédéric Chopin. Another cosmetic product, Laneige – refers to snow in French, aims to beautify women through their sophisticated products that are carefully produced from “water science”, enabling them to achieve a radiant skin that glows.

Spayuri- Another Ingenious blend of English and Japanese


Another ingenious blend of English and Japanese can be observed in another branding effort by Spayuri. Notice how spa and yuri appears as a coinage here. Spayuri conveys the underlying message of health and wellness, as well as an embodiment of beauty and sensuality from the Japanese female name Yuri and the kanji (Characters that represent Chinese loanwords in Japanese) meaning lily.

These businesses have successfully marketed themselves in the intense globalized competition. One important tip shared by marketing gurus lies in naming your business affectively.

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Loanwords in Japanese (II)

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Besides the influence of trade, foreign loanwords in Japanese have other implications too. By using loanwords, the speaker demonstrates being a cut above the rest in terms of education, social status and exposure. English as a universal language invokes the thought and feeling of one being polished and superior since many Japanese perceive Western culture to be more interesting and prestigiEous. Research findings show that ordinary folks usually adopt foreign words, such as English, in order to indicate a higher social status. Another contributing factor that supports the endorsement of foreign loanwords in Japanese may be the desire for novelty. As foreign loanwords tend to represent fresh and modern ideas and products, using such loanwords will enable one to appear well-informed and ahead of times.

It is not surprising to note that the prevalent foreign loanwords in Japanese can be found in the music industry. The fascination with English in the music scene is conspicuous – the titles of Japanese pop songs are very often in English. Let us take a look at just this particular list of loanwords!

Loanwords Katakana
genre (French) ジャンル janru
ballad (French) バラード barado
Black music ブラックミュジック burakkumyujikku
hip hop ヒップホップ hippuhoppu
jazz ジャズ jazu
pop ポップ poppu
rap ラップ rappu
backup dancer バックダンサー bakkudansa
band バンド bando
director ディレクター direkuta
group グループ gurupu
main vocal メインボーカル meinbokaru
member メンバー menba
songwriter ソングライター songuraita
lyric リリック ririkku
melody メロ mero
rhythm リズム rizumu
title タイトル taitoru
tempo (Italian) テンポ tenpo
collaboration コラボ korabo
maxi single マキシシングル makishishinguru
new single ニューシングル nyushinguru
live ライブ raibu
festival フェス fesu
one man live ワンマンライブ wanmanraibu

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Loanwords in Japanese (I)

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As native speakers mingle with foreigners and in turn, gain exposure to foreign ideas, objects and expressions, it is not surprising that such neologisms begin their foray into the native speakers’ world. Very often, these neologisms undergo very minimal change and in the case of the Japanese language, they are usually represented by katakana. Let’s take a look at some of the loanwords in Japanese:

Loanword Katakana
piano ピアノ piano
computer コンピュータ konpyuta
album アルバム arubamu
very delicious バリうま bariuma (bari is the intensifier – “very”)
arbeit (German – “work”) アルバイト arubaito (“part-time job”)

As we can observe from the above table, apart from a phonological change, loanwords in Japanese may also diverge from their original meaning. Taking arbeit into account, the meaning has undergone a shift – referring to a part-time job instead. With trade relations reviving between Japan and the foreigners especially after the 19th century, Japan’s contact with the outside world grew and so did its vocabulary. Before the 19th century – probably between the 16th to 17th century, Japan limited trading opportunities to the West due to the infiltration of Catholicism and the persistence of converting the locals into Catholics.

During the 5th century, Chinese loanwords were initially written in kanji (Chinese characters). However, as Japan opened herself up to other foreign traders, other loanwords soon began their foray into Japanese. For example, loanwords would come from Dutch and German (medicine) as well as French and Italian (music and food). Generally, loanwords that do not come from the West are written in katakana. Loanwords are Japanized in Japanese as they end up taking on a Japanese pronunciation feature. Two interesting examples of Japanized loanwords occur when Japanese speakers abbreviate new borrowings or create new expressions (coinage) from foreign loanwords.

Loanword Abbreviated
supermarket スーパー supa
departmental store デパート depato
Loanwords Coinage
salary, man サラリーマン salaryman “employee”

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