Getting a Sarada at the Resutoran: Japanese Loanwords From Other Languages

You probably know that katakana is used for loan words. But the *interesting* thing is that not all of these loan words come from English.

So if you’ve been wondering what happened to the “t” sound at the end of the Japanese word resutoran レストラン (restaurant), it was never there in the first place - because that loanword didn’t come from English. It came from French.

And why is the word for salad, sarada サラダ? Wouldn’t sarado サラド make more sense? Well, it would in English... but sarada comes from the Portuguese.

It’s good to know which loanwords didn’t come from English - and it's interesting to know what languages they come from - so you can remember how to pronounce them correctly.

Hopefully this will help you remember that it’s resutoran not resutoranto!


Quiz time!

How many of these Japanese loanwords do you know?

Rentogen  レントケン

Piero ピエロ

Arubaito  アルバイト

Piiman  ピーマン

Ruu  ルー

Esute  エステ

Ikura  イクラ

Noruma  ノルマ

Karuta  カルタ

Sukoppu  スコップ

Igirisu  イギリス

⇩ HINT: Japan believes in calling a スコップ a スコップ

The Answers

Rentogen  レントケン  X-ray  (from German)

Piero  ピエロ  clown  (French)

Arubaito  アルバイト  part time job  (German)

Piiman  ピーマン  peppers [the vegetable]  (French)

Run  ルー  roux sauce [or, more commonly, Japanese curry powder]  (French)

Esute   エステ  aesthetic salon i.e. beauty salon  (French)

Ikura  イクラ  salmon roe  (Russian)

Noruma  ノルマ  quota  (Russian)

Karuta  カルタ  Japanese playing cards  (Portuguese)

Sukoppu  スコップ  spade (Dutch; Flemish)

Igirisu  イギリス  the U.K. (Portuguese)

Pan  パン  bread  (Portuguese)
How did you do?

Don’t be fooled

Some loanwords look and sound a bit like English - but they're not!

Can you guess what languages these loanwords come from? (Hint: not English!)

Koohii コーヒー coffee

Zero ゼロ zero

Pompu ポンプ pump

Botan ボタン button

Koppu コップ cup

Sarada サラダ salad

Kokku コック cook
I'll post the answers next week!