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

Pic source: www.tofugu.com

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”

pic source: randomwire.com

Loanwords in English

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Language is subject to change overtime. Modern English, as we call it, is actually a blend of various languages! Even the original Anglo-Saxon language consisted of a smorgasbord of different dialects from the West Germanic tribes living on the North Coast.  Did you notice a loanword that has just occurred? Yes – smorgasbord! English borrowed and anglicized the Swedish word smörgåsbord. That explains the slightly different pronunciation in English.

The West Germanic tribes were made up of the Saxons (Germany and eastern Holland), the Jutes (probably from northern Denmark) as well as the Angles (possibly living along the coast and on islands between Denmark and Holland) and the dialects used amongst the different speakers were mutually intelligible. In other words, they could easily guess or understand one another.  English’s closest relatives can be found right across the waters – Holland and Germany. Below is a list of similar looking and sounding words!

    English

Dutch

German

as

als

als

bread

brood

Brot

cow

koe

Kuh

dream

droom

Traum

hear

hoor

Hören

him

hem

ihm

under

onder

unter

Interestingly, English as we see now is a hodgepodge of dialects which explains the similarities shared by it and the other neighboring varieties. With each new power figure or conqueror, there will be new borrowings from the donor language into the recipient language. For instance, William the conqueror and his Norman supporters invaded England in 1066 and brought together with them Norman French which was regarded as the prestigious mode of communication. Although simple daily communication was carried out in English, it was injected with a huge number of French words.

From then onwards, English has been actively absorbing new vocabulary from various sources. For example, vestiges of French, Latin and Greek can still be found in English. In diplomacy, French represents the language of diplomacy across Europe, Latin acts as the language of the church while Greek is the strongest contributor of words related to philosophy and science. Apart from these European languages, The American Indian languages, Australian Aborigine languages and the languages of Africa and India have also donated a tremendous amount of words that refer to species of plants and animals in the world!

 As the number of English speakers increases in societies made up of non-native English speakers, different English varieties spring up. The colloquial English variety of Singapore, otherwise known as Singlish, intersperses English with local dialects such as Malay, Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese. Even though English acts as the main mode of communication in Singapore, foreigners will definitely take time and effort to understand Singlish due to the strong influence of local dialectal loanwords and Chinese sentence final particles (la, lor, leh) borrowed into English.

Language is subject to change overtime. Modern English, as we call it, is actually a blend of various languages! Even the original Anglo-Saxon language consisted of a smorgasbord of different dialects from the West Germanic tribes living on the North Coast.  Did you notice a loanword that has just occurred? Yes – smorgasbord! English borrowed and anglicized the Swedish word smörgåsbord. That explains the slightly different pronunciation in English.

The West Germanic tribes were made up of the Saxons (Germany and eastern Holland), the Jutes (probably from northern Denmark) as well as the Angles (possibly living along the coast and on islands between Denmark and Holland) and the dialects used amongst the different speakers were mutually intelligible. In other words, they could easily guess or understand one another.  English’s closest relatives can be found right across the waters – Holland and Germany. Below is a list of similar looking and sounding words!

English

Dutch

German

as

als

als

bread

brood

Brot

cow

koe

Kuh

dream

droom

Traum

hear

hoor

Hören

him

hem

ihm

under

onder

unter

Interestingly, English as we see now is a hodgepodge of dialects which explains the similarities shared by it and the other neighboring varieties. With each new power figure or conqueror, there will be new borrowings from the donor language into the recipient language. For instance, William the conqueror and his Norman supporters invaded England in 1066 and brought together with them Norman French which was regarded as the prestigious mode of communication. Although simple daily communication was carried out in English, it was injected with a huge number of French words.

From then onwards, English has been actively absorbing new vocabulary from various sources. For example, vestiges of French, Latin and Greek can still be found in English. In diplomacy, French represents the language of diplomacy across Europe, Latin acts as the language of the church while Greek is the strongest contributor of words related to philosophy and science. Apart from these European languages, The American Indian languages, Australian Aborigine languages and the languages of Africa and India have also donated a tremendous amount of words that refer to species of plants and animals in the world!

 As the number of English speakers increases in societies made up of non-native English speakers, different English varieties spring up. The colloquial English variety of Singapore, otherwise known as Singlish, intersperses English with local dialects such as Malay, Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese. Even though English acts as the main mode of communication in Singapore, foreigners will definitely take time and effort to understand Singlish due to the strong influence of local dialectal loanwords and Chinese sentence final particles (la, lor, leh) borrowed into English.

pic source: encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com

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