August 19, 2009


I received a rather odd unsolicited email this morning.

I found your webpage very interesting. can you please tell me about the original english word for these borrowed japanese words?

The email address was hotmail and the user name was strange, sounded middle eastern or something. It has the flavor of one of the weird comment spams going around. But it seemed to be genuine, and so I answered it.

What it mostly consisted of was japanized versions of English. Here's the list, plus what I said about each:

Ooba [kooto] -- no idea
kakuteirudoresu -- cocktail dress
hitto -- hit
geemo setto -- "game" and "set"
naisu iin -- "naisu" is "nice"
shiidii -- no idea
jazuusesshun -- jazz session
uetto na kanji -- I don't think that's borrowed from English
dorai -- probably "dry"
goo sutoppu -- that would be "go" and "stop"
kaa -- no idea
wanman-kaa -- no idea
takushi -- no idea

So that's what I mailed back. For a lot of these, what you have to do is to read them out loud a few times and then use your imagination. That's how I got "cocktail dress".

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 01:02 PM | Comments (12) | Add Comment
Post contains 193 words, total size 1 kb.

1 shiidii -- That seems to be "CD" (though there's no di in Japanese, so it should be shiijii)
kaa -- sounds like "car"
wanman-kaa -- "one-man car"?
takushi -- sounds like "taxi"

Posted by: Jaked at August 19, 2009 01:29 PM (0gBEJ)


Ooba [kooto] -- OVA [cut]?

Also think that "uetto" from "uetto na kanji" could be "wet" but it sounds very strange (wet kanji?).

Posted by: Jaked at August 19, 2009 01:36 PM (0gBEJ)

3 "takushii" (タクシー) is taxi

"kaa" (カー) is car

"shiidii" (シーディー) is CD. Also, as a note to Jaked, the (ディ) katakana compound with the small イ is generally used to represent an actual "di" sound. That's how CD is spelled in katakana, and most Japanese people pronounce it that way, so saying there is "no di in Japanese" is a somewhat misleading statement.

"wanmankaa" (ワンマンカー) is "one-man car". This refers to a bus or a train with only one employee - the driver, who also acts as the ticket collector or conductor.

in "uetto na kanji" (ウエットな感じ) is an English loanword, "wet". Although I can't be entirely certain without context, the most likely interpretation is the phrase "a wet feeling" or "wet sensation".

"ooba kooto" (オーバコート?) I haven't heard before, but it could be "overcoat".

Posted by: 0rion at August 19, 2009 02:29 PM (4qQat)


Oh, yeah, I know about that, but in my experience, and I mean, at least with all the Japanese I've encountered they always pronounce it as ji instead of di. I guess it's due being so accustomed to it. (Thinking about it, there's no di I can remember on anime either, but then again I haven't watched any recent ones or the old ones that do pronounce it, if they do exist. I'm guessing they don't but if they can as you say I wonder if they have guidelines as to how to dub anime in Japan)

Overcoat -- that sounds much better but I wonder about the brackets "[]" around kooto.

Posted by: Jaked at August 19, 2009 02:40 PM (0gBEJ)

5 I will forward those to my correspondent. Thank you for your help!

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at August 19, 2009 09:33 PM (+rSRq)

6 Sorry for the off-topic, just wanted to point out that since yesterday morning has been the same pic up there of Aria the Animation's girl on pink, one-piece swmsuit. Got nothing against it (quite cool actually) but doesn't the pic up there changes like every hour or something?

Posted by: Jaked at August 20, 2009 12:55 PM (0gBEJ)

7 Try to get some context for each one.
Like have him use it in a sentence, 

Posted by: Veeshir at August 20, 2009 01:07 PM (TmAo9)

8 Jaked, yes it does, and yes it has been. Try clearing your browser cache. (Right now it's a picture of one of the twins from Negima!?)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at August 20, 2009 02:29 PM (+rSRq)

9 The thing is, I noticed it not because of my desktop but because it "happened" in several computers at my college throughout yesterday and today. I guess I just had some weird luck then.

Posted by: Jaked at August 20, 2009 08:59 PM (JlFye)


Ooba Kooto is the new show by Production IG about the Oboe player and the Koto player who, practice together, become an eclectic musical hit, tour the world and fight crime.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at August 21, 2009 12:04 AM (9ha+4)

11 "Naisu In" appears to be used to compliment a golfer: "nice in". There's also at least one "Nice Inn" hotel in Japan.

"Uetto-na kanji" shows up on fashion sites to describe "wet-look" hairstyles (as opposed to "dorai"). There are other uses I didn't track down.

"Goo sutoppu" is a Korean card game, whose rules include a continue/stop condition.

"geemu setto" is from tennis: "game and set".


Posted by: J Greely at August 21, 2009 12:47 AM (2XtN5)

12 Actually....I made that last one up.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at August 21, 2009 01:47 AM (9ha+4)

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