Japanese words in the English language

Around the year 1500, Japanese words started making their way into the English language. Since then, despite Japan’s relative seclusion throughout the centuries, Japanese words have continued to have a slow but steady influence on the English language. Japanese words that have been adopted into the English language are unmistakably of Japanese origin, in contrast to the situation in which words from other languages have been assimilated into English and then their origins are covered up. From ikebana to geisha, miso, satsuma, sushi , bonsai, shinto, karaoke, ninja, samurai, tsunami, manga, ramen, kimono anime and many others. However, the origins of some Japanese words can be traced back to China, such as the words zen and tofu. Kanji, which are derived from Chinese characters, are still used for the most part in written Japanese. This comes as no surprise.

However, there is a phenomenon that is unique to the Japanese language, which is that the Japanese will take certain English words, make them Japanese, and then use these new words in English with the meaning taken from Japan.

Examples of this include the term “salaryman,” which in English meant nothing until the Japanese took the words “salary” and “man” and created the term “sarariman” in Japanese. This term is now used in English to refer to a salaried office employee or a salaryman. Another term for this is homestay, which derives from the words “home” and “stay.” This term is h├┤mosutei in Japanese, and the neologism homestay is now commonly used in English as well.

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