Excessive use of English in Japan?

I’ve heard that in Japan they use tons of borrowed English words (even though many words are available in Japanese), especially in entertainment industry, is this true?

I’m going to assume you watch anime. If you do… have you never really paid attention to what is being said? I have heard tons of borrowed words in anime. I typically noticed though they are usually only used in context to express emphasis on a given catch frame, or in idiomatic slang.

I rarely watch anime so I did not sure it was a “phenomenon”.
Though some animes which I saw use tons of borrowed words, but they are kinda futuristic genre so I didn’t care much about that until recently.

You are right, Japan has some kind of fetish for American culture.

Borrowed words like:

  • Lady First
  • Fork
  • Spoon

etc. etc. Has no Japanese equivalent.

There’s tons of borrowed words from English. You see, first they borrowed most of their words from China, but the sounds were so similar (to them) that it created a ton of words that sound exactly the same but are written differently. Now with English and other languages in general, they do the same thing and borrow tons of words, except you can actually use these new words in daily conversation because they DON’T sound like words they already have, so they’re taking hold even faster. Ex. “toire - toilet”, “seeraa - sailor”, “sarari - salary”, “sumaho - smartphone”, “amerika - the USA”, “rabu - love”, retaa - letter" “geemu - game”, “chara - character”, “chatto - chat”, “pinku - pink”. Some words like these, that had Japanese/Chinese equivalents, have really taken hold only just in the past 10 years…

The borrowed words may or may not have Japanese or Chinese-borrowed versions as well, though a whole lot of them do. The word for the USA used to be beikoku (“grain country”), for example, taken from Chinese. The older versions might not be in your dictionary (there’s at least 3 words for wallet and the one you might have learnt, “saifu”, isn’t the one that was used 100 years ago. They’re also using “waaretto” now apparently.)

Japanese does have a non-English word for spoon at least, it’s “saji”, but I don’t know about the others. From what I read, the number of English loanwords in Japanese is now about the same as the number of Chinese loans, the difference being they’ve borrowed from China for like 1,000+ years and only started borrowing from English in like the last 200.

No matter how many single words there are, the average Japanese person can’t string these words together into English sentences very well. Even if they can, they get stopped by fear. As for anime, I’ve noticed “oh my god!” appearing in all the new shows lately.

Also, in general “entertainment” uses a lot more words than normal life. This is true whether it’s TV or fiction novels or poetry. Videogames can use really strange kanji that you’ll never see elsewhere for example, so the same is true for English loans…


I wonder if that is the reason why most Japanese people face extremely hard time learning English. So far I’ve only met 1 Japanese person who can be considered to be somewhat understandable when talking in English.

This is basically because Japanese (like most languages) is nothing like English in any way, if you look beyond the fact that they’re both human languages. Summarized, Japanese has no adjectives and no adverbs, even the origin of verbs is just what’s essentially a string of condensed nouns (they just happened to have had a noun that meant “finished action” for example). So when they say “it wasn’t cold”, they’re actually saying a condensed string of 4-5 words that means “the matter of coldness existing didn’t exist”. Their system of tense in verbs isn’t even the same (what you commonly see taught as “present” or “past” tense isn’t actually so in Japanese, which is why present can also be used for future for example).

They don’t even really have words like “when, that which, the, and, but, for” (instead of “when” they say “time: とき or と”, for example). So at the root of things they’re missing all of English’s most basic grammatical words and concepts, and most of English’s word order. They also, just like basically every language on the planet, use tons less unique words compared to English (instead they make new, logical words out of pre-existing ones — for the most part), but English constantly creates and borrows completely new words (we say things like “television”, “opthamologist”, “escalator”, not “distance-see, eye healer, electric/rolling staircase”). This is on top of the normal difficulties of stuff like English’s spelling and pronunciation — try explaining to someone why we pronounce “as certain” and “ascertain” so differently!

Finally on top of all that, so many people speak Japanese that there’s zero reason for them to use, hear or see English — and that’s how you learn English, you can’t learn it only from school because it’s far too difficult (and school is far too bad) for that.

You know the main reason for why people in say, Sweden, all know English? Because there’s not enough media (videogames, TV shows, websites) in Swedish and they end up using English-language ones to fill in the gaps (100+ years ago no one in Sweden knew English either). In Japan there’s no such problem, they have everything they could want already and most people are almost never going to meet foreigners.

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This may sound unrelated but when you mention people in Sweden, I remember that I dun see many Japanese people travel around the world like, for example, the European people do. Most European people I know always know atleast 3 languages: their mother tongue, English, and 1 or more language(s), depends on the place they travel. While most Japanese people stay in their country so in someway they make it harder for themselves when learning English.

Oh and by the way did you learn Japanese? Cuz I see you have lots of opinions about it.

Yeah, I’m getting a degree in Japanese and in my free time I study its grammar history and things.

I agree with the parts of it. I’m a European, so I can speak Estonian an English. I don’t travel a lot. I’ve been to Sweden 5 times, have learned it at school for 2 years but only speak a tiny bit). I’ve been to Russia once, have learned it 11 (eleven!) years at school, don’t speak it but can understand something. Been once to Latvia and Lithuania but only know 2 words of Latvian (saldejums - icecream ; iela - street) and none of Lithuanian.
Been to Munich once and only know a little, studied it a year at University.
Never have visited any English or Spanish-speaking country. My English is a bit better than Spanish because I had to learn English 6 yrs at high-school.

It wasn’t supposed to be a brag-post. Just wanted to say that it’s not only travelling that puts different languages in peopls mouths