Wait, what? These weren’t in chapter one of Genki….
“Wasei Eigo”, or “English words created in Japan”, can leave native English speakers baffled — but what about Korean speakers?
The word “transformer” does a lot of transforming in these languages!
There’s a strong chance you’ve been pronouncing this company’s name wrong the whole time.
In terms of pronunciation Japanese is surprisingly easy to get to grips with, but some words can be real tongue-tanglers! Here are 10 of the worst!
With the 26 letters of the alphabet, we can make pretty much any sound present in the majority of languages. But Japanese just doesn’t contain certain sounds present in English, like “th” or “v”, and their “r” is somewhere right between our “r” and “l”, making them sound almost exactly the same to Japanese ears.
Since most Japanese people grow up only speaking Japanese, it means that when they start learning English at school, they either have to learn entirely new sounds (difficult) or else try to render English in Japanese sounds (which isn’t accurate). As a result, many Japanese English learners feel a lot of anxiety over the accuracy of their pronunciation. But should that really be holding them back?
Learning a foreign language is hard. Even if you master all the vocabulary and grammar, there’s still no guarantee that you’ll ever achieve a native-like accent. For Japanese learners of English, differentiating between the “l” and “r” sounds and pronouncing the “th” sound correctly can be tricky them no matter how many years they’ve been practicing.
But have you ever wondered what it’s like the other way around? What sounds do we English speakers make that sound strange when we speak Japanese? Well it turns out the sound that we mess up the most is one you might not have expected: “fu”.
In college, I had a classmate who, almost every day, would talk about the list of tuning mods he had planned for his car. Sometimes, he’d talk about his plans to order some sweet JDM parts from Honda’s in-house aftermarket division, Mugen, and you can’t imagine how much it drove me up the walls.
I didn’t begrudge the guy his daydream, but what I couldn’t take was the way he pronounced it “Myu-gen” instead of “Moo-gen,” adding in a phantom Y sound that has no place in the Japanese word for “without limits.”
But hey, a lot of people in the U.S. mispronounce it that way, and can you blame them? Pronouncing foreign words can be tricky, which is why there’s now a video which will teach you the correct way to pronounce the names of all of Japan’s major car makers. And, once you’ve mastered them all, we’ll even explain what they mean.
Depending on the second language you’re trying to master, pronunciation is arguably the hardest aspect to conquer. The Japanese and English languages are no exception. Japanese, with its highly syllabic alphabet, often has a hard time accommodating the often chaotic nature of natural English pronunciation.
While a native English speaker’s tongue might stumble when trying to spit out makudonarudo (McDonald) smoothly the first few times our language allows us to pick it up with a little practice. Japanese English speakers have far more adversity trying to understand all the diminished sounds of a native English speaker casually uttering the name of the famous hamburger chain.
With that, NTT has revealed technology it’s working on that may one day automatically correct a Japanese person’s English pronunciation by editing the speed and rhythm while keeping the original speaker’s voice intact.