Native English speakers try to guess Japanese words

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These are not native Japanese words, they are gairaigo, foreign words that are borrowed and simply spoken with Japanese phonetics.

How could you have posted this video without even realizing that “ice cream” with a Japanese accent is not, in fact, Japanese?


Kind of how paipu katto sounds like “pipe cutter” and means vasectomy?

That’s a “wasei-eigo”, a term IN English that is mistranslated to have some meaning to Japanese, it is still not Japanese.

An example of this is “level up”, we learned this wasei-eigo term from it’s mistranslated usage in Japanese produced video games. It is not full on English but it started as wasei-eigo.

It seems to me that misuse of foreign words is one of the ways new words get into a language.


There’s a whole song…

Well, TBH you are kind of cutting the pipes

When I was studying Japanese we used to do an exercise like this in class where we’d try to figure out what the loan word was supposed to be. Some were on the easy side like esukareetaa (escalator), kamera (camera), or remokon (remote control). They are just English words pronounced using Japanese syllables. Others only make sense in context like rentogen (X-ray, named for Wilhelm Röntgen).

The gairago come from all over the place. I was a bit confused when I first saw “arbaito” - a part time job, from the German arbeit.

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My favorite Japanese word is fwaafwaa, which is the sound that softly falling snow makes.

There’s so many great onomatopoeia in Japanese.

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