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Joined: February 2, 2005  (email not validated)
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Languages borrow foreign words all the time-- It's a kind of linguistic fashion. Some words go out of fashion, and others stick. It's pretty much the story of how the English language evolved.

Some words, like 'coffee', sound pretty much the same in several languages: Chinese people say "Ka Fei", French say 'Cafe',etc. etc.---even Japanese people use a foreign word for Java, don't they?

Dyske, Japan is the land of foreign borrowed words! From convenience stores (konbini), to computers, (konpyuutaa), the Japanese language is PACKED with foreign loan words for which perfectly good Japanese words exist. Foreign words are taken in, changed a bit to roll off the Japanese tongue, and voila! If people like it, a word-fashion is born. Sometimes the word is used to convey a slightly (or totally) different meaning.

Are you really so surprised that English speakers would want to borrow a Japanese word? Personally, I think it's kinda cool-- but some might argue otherwise. Another memorable Japanese word that English speakers have corrupted is Kay-Ri-o-kee (Karaoke)--have you heard people say that one?

Using a foreign word offers a certain "Je ne sais quoi" (boooooooooo) that is all the more appealing when when others actually understand what you're talking about. If you went around quoting Caesar in Latin, someone would probably punch you.

You wanna hear something funny? Japanese (borrow?) use the Chinese characters for 'hand' and 'paper' together to mean 'a letter' (tegami), as in "I'm going to write my friend a letter". However, those two characters together mean 'toilet paper' (shou zhi) in Chinese.

Don't be too hard on Westerners for poor Japanese pronunciation. The human tongue is a creature of habit, and while the 'ts' sound is one that English speakers can easily reproduce, flattening it out into an 's' is easier--- the same reason people say 'liddle' not 'little', and 'ouda' not 'out of'......


ray February 3, 2005, 12:33am

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I don't know if it helps, but West Indian speakers of English also use the phrase "We will reach in a few hours".

I'm sure this phrase is found in other corners of the world as well.

Ray February 2, 2005, 3:18pm

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