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

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

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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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