Asian loan words in English - Japanese Words
Asian loan words in English by Ann-Marie Imbornoni
One of the chief characteristics of English is its teeming vocabulary, an estimated 80% of which has come from other languages! Linguistic borrowing has occurred over many centuries, whenever English speakers have come into contact with other cultures, whether through conquest and colonization, trade and commerce, immigration, leisure travel, or war.
While English has borrowed most heavily from the languages of Europe and the Near East, it has also acquired many loan words from Asia, sometimes through the intermediary of Dutch, the native language of the merchant-sailors who dominated the Spice Islands trade in the 17th century.
Many of these borrowed words no longer seem foreign, having been completely assimilated into English. Some examples are "boondocks", "gingham", and "ketchup". Others are still strongly associated with their country of origin, such as terms for specific "ethnic" dishes or the different schools of martial arts.
Words derived from:
- Chinese & Korean
- Malay & Tagalog
- aikido, from words meaning "mutual spirit art."
- bonsai, meaning "bowl plant."
- futon, a type of mattress.
- geisha, from gei, meaning "art" and sha, "person."
- hara-kiri, from hara, meaning "abdomen, bowels" and kiri, "to cut."
- honcho, from a word meaning "squad leader."
- judo, from words meaning "soft way."
- jujitsu, from words meaning "soft arts."
- kamikaze, is translated literally as "divine wind," from the name of a typhoon that saved Japan by destroying the Mongol navy in 1281.
- kanji, words using Chinese characters.
- karaoke, from kara, meaning "void, empty" and oke(sutora), meaning "orchestra." In a case of reverse borrowing, the Japanese word okesutora came from the English word orchestra.
- karate, from words meaning "empty hand."
- ninja, from nin, meaning "to endure" and ja, "person."
- ramen, ultimately from the Mandarin Chinese words for "pulled noodles."
- rickshaw, from jinrikisha, meaning "person-strength-vehicle."
- sake, a rice wine.
- samurai, "warrior."
- shogun, "general."
- tofu, originally borrowed into Japanese from Chinese.
- tsunami, meaning a "large ocean wave."
- tycoon, from taikun, meaning "great prince." Used as a title, the word was originally borrowed into Japanese from Chinese. It was brought to the U.S. after Matthew Perry's visit to Japan in 1853 and 1854. Members of Abraham Lincoln's cabinet used it as an affectionate nickname for the president. Later it was applied to business magnates such as J. P. Morgan.