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Speakers of certain languages sometimes get a leg-up when learning Japanese. For example, Japanese includes Chinese characters, which means Chinese speakers can often get the gist of a text even if they don’t understand the grammar. Similarly, Korean speakers might find that Japanese grammar is kinda similar to theirs. And we native English speakers get a huge helping hand from the hundreds of English loan words that have been adopted into modern Japanese.
But sometimes, these loan words aren’t really our friends at all. Instead, they’re what’s known as false friends – words that sound similar in two languages yet have a completely different meaning. In co-opting English words into Japanese, sometimes our crafty Nihonjin pals have assigned our words to things that actually mean something totally different. It’s almost like they’re trying to trick us!
Join us for a quick primer on some Japanese loanwords you might have heard before, and what they really mean!