Why does the Japanese language have English loan words for things they already have words for?


Words like “relax” (rirakkusu) and “hose” (hosu) seem like something that would have existed before contact with English-speaking people.

In: Culture

5 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

The words often have slightly different connotations. For example, the English loan word *kyanseru* (cancel) is an informal, modern-sounding way to talk about canceling something. If you were talking about canceling a contract or other more formal arrangement, you would likely instead use the Chinese loan word *kaiyaku*. And if you wanted to talk about canceling in a more general or abstract sense, like taking back your words, you might instead use the native Japanese word *torikesi*.

Japanese is not unique in this regard. English has many French and Latin loan words for terms that already had native semi-equivalents: pain/hurt, rage/anger, response/answer, prior/before, commence/begin, creed/belief, abdomen/belly, corpse/body, fraternal/brotherly, construct/build, etc.

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