Any tips in learning Gairaigo vocabs?

I feel really tried when I try to type Gairaigo word correctly. I feel like it against every English knowledge in my brain.

For example, クレジットカード (credit cards) the クレジット part is quiet difficult for me to remember.
ミーティング is an another one. I just want to die. I type in ティ multiple time and I can’t remember it suppose to be mii-thi-nn-gu not mii-ti-nn-gu

I have a good progress on reading Katakana but when i come to writing/typing gairaigo I feel like the processor in my brain is running at its maximum capacity. I’m not sure if I’m learning it in the wrong way. Or just keep drilling them endlessly is the only way.

Any tips please~ :pleading_face:


Is it just long vowels and double consonants that give you trouble?

1 Like

I’d say both lol.

It’s just not what I imagine it would sound like that in Japanese (if that make sense) When I try to read them it’s quiet ok. I could guess what they are. But it’s totally different when I’m trying to spell them correctly.
I’m not sure if I’m learning them in the wrong way. Or it’s what happend to everyone.

1 Like

I got the impression it was stuff like “credit” with a d, becoming “kurejitto” with a ji.

I feel like you just get a knack for how Japanese interprets loanwords over time.


If a foreigner like us pronouce loanwords with perfect English accent while the rest of the conversation is in good/near perfect Japanese accent.

Is it weird? Or could they(Japanese) understand?

1 Like

In many cases they will not understand, or be very thrown off, by using English pronunciation in the middle of Japanese sentences. At the very least it will come across as a very strong foreign accent for them and make it less smooth to listen to your speech.


Thanks, your reply has motivated me to learn those loanwords appropriately. It looks like a very important part in learning Japanese more than I thought it would be.

1 Like

It may help at first to think of loanwords as Japanese words first and foremost: they are loanwords, but they’re actually completely separate from the English words they imitate. Meanings will often be different too, so that might be a helpful mindset.


There is no rule that covers all transliterations into katakana. Many times, it’s very inconsistent. You’ll have more luck memorising each one individually.

Johannesburg is ヨハネスブルグ but Hamburg is ハンブルク. The Hindenburg airship accident is ヒンデンブルク号爆発事故, but the movie Hindenburg about it is ヒンデンブルグ. Kronenbourg Brewery is クローネンブルグ but in French, it’s actually pronounced [kʁɔnɑ̃buʁ] so the ending should rhyme with Strasbourg, which is ストラスブール.


I’m trying to do that but I think parts of my brain feel tired from learning Japanese. So they’re trying to find an easy way to get out of this.

Sound like something that I’d pick up after a few years of using Japanese daily. :pleading_face:


I think we talked about it in my linguistics class, but I’m missing my notes on it sadly.

I concur though.

A lot of it depends on when the word become imported or popular in Japanese too. I think a lot of recent stuff relies more on the spelling in the Latin alphabet rather than the actual pronunciation. Like Hamburg and Hindenburg were imported over 50 years ago and better match (old?) German pronunciation. @latepotato My German is pretty rusty, do you have any input here?

As for Strasbourg, locally born folks pronounce the g usually. Later transplants might not depending on if they knew the city beforehand and also whether they know it’s currently French. I lived there for a bit and one of the problems people told me about were French people not knowing Strasbourg is part of France.

This time period stuff is also why you have a lot of words like ラベンダー which incorporate the v sound as a b sound. Nowadays though, ヴ is preferred for many new loanwords written with v.


Without really having read through this thread, the g at the end of words is pronounced differently in different German dialects. Here in the South, you’d pronounce it almost as hard as a k, but in Northern parts of Germany you’d often pronounce it like ch (the sound doesn’t exist in English and I don’t know the phonetic alphabet well enough to say what sound it is). Anyway, point is that even nowadays there isn’t one consistent way of pronouncing it. And maybe in the past, the differences were even bigger, but I don’t know that


Karaoke, kamikaze, karate, and harakiri are all loanwords from Japanese. They’re nearly unrecognizable when spoken in many varieties of English. Even if a word is adopted, the sounds might still not be natural or accessible for most people, so it changes.

I had a lot of trouble pronouncing the katakana version of the word alcohol. The only thing that could help me was to just let go of the English. It’s not easy, but it will make a difference.

1 Like

If it’s just for these two, I have tips, but I don’t really know how to give you an overall framework:

  • クレジットカード (credit cards): If you know about the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), you’ll know that sometimes, the J sound in Japanese (like in English) starts with a [d] sound. Therefore, it’s sort of sensible for D to morph into a [dʑ] (D + ‘soft’ Japanese J) sound, like in クレジット. You also find this pattern in ラジオ (‘radio’). The pattern here is that the D sound occurs between two vowels.
  • For your problem with ミーティング… well, first of all, I’d say that you should focus on memorising the correct kana and then worry about how to type them. That aside, to avoid confusion – even though I know that Japanese people frequently use ‘ti’ when typing as well – I would consistently type ‘chi’ when I want ち so that I won’t forget that there’s something else that produces the sound of ‘tea’ in English.

My personal approach to learning these things – if I’m having a lot of trouble remembering – would be to write the katakana out by hand from memory several times, with the objective being to remember the word in katakana in my head. It’s definitely possible to gain a knack over time for knowing how words would be said in Japanese/with a Japanese accent, but relying on romaji to do it is probably going to confuse you more than anything else. My understanding is that the spellings used in romaji are usually meant to sound like whatever the source word was while being pronounceable for a Japanese person; they don’t look like the source word, so you shouldn’t think of them that way.

That aside… look out for patterns in how sounds map to each other. I can’t cover everything, especially because Japanese has loanwords from so many different languages, but here are just a few examples:

English → Japanese:

  • ‘Ah’ and the U sound in ‘up’ are going to be ア.
  • The A sound in ‘gap’ or ‘addition’, written as [æ] in IPA, is almost always (consonant +) ャ.
  • -er at the ends of syllables like ‘inter-’ or ‘fighter’ is almost always アー. Look out for similar phenomena with other endings that sound similar, like ‘horror’ becoming ホラー.
  • Sometimes, you get funky stuff for words ending in R, like ツアー for ‘tour’. Just keep in mind that this is another possibility, and it’s not actually that weird: standard German does the same thing, with words like “vor”=‘before’ sounding more like ‘fo-a’ than anything else.
  • ‘-ic’ is almost always イック.
  • Common consonant pairs have fairly standard equivalents: ‘st-’ becomes ス[T row], ‘tr-’ becomes ト[R row], ‘sk-’ (or something that sounds like it) becomes ス[K row]. Voiced ‘th-’ (as in ‘the’ or ‘these’) usually becomes [Z row], whereas voiceless ‘th-’ (as in ‘with’ or ‘think’) becomes [S row]. Do your best to learn what Japanese considers ‘neutral’ vowels when it comes to making these sounds, because that will help you choose the right kana for these consonant pairs where you have to insert a vowel in Japanese where there is none in English (that’s why I call that vowel ‘neutral’).
  • V sounds almost always end up in the B row, unless it’s a recent borrowing, in which case ヴ may be used instead.

It’s a little weird to say given how much influence the US has undoubtedly had over Japan, which has been its ally for years now, but I think that Japanese katakana for English loanwords tends to be closer to British pronunciations than American ones.

You’ll find similar patterns for conversions from other languages. As such, if you find it easier to remember the source words in English, French, German or anything else because they’re written in an alphabet that’s more familiar to you, then what you might want to try is learning conversion rules and remembering the origins of gairaigo instead.

1 Like

I think it’s one of those things that quietly improves over time just as you encounter and read more of them and get used to the patterns subconsciously.

Other than that, I think the only thing to do is to try to avoid thinking of them as English words. Study them however you would any other Japanese word. It might feel silly for some words, but there’s always the possibility that the loan word process changes the meaning, like I saw セルフプロデュース yesterday and almost didn’t look it up since I could tell it was “self-produce(d)”, and if I hadn’t I would have completely missed that it meant “presenting oneself in a favorable light” in the context where I encountered it.

And even though in my experience it’s gotten a lot easier to decipher these words most of the time, there’s always gonna be words like オードブル, that are far harder, if not impossible to guess first try.
So I think the way to go is to take them case-by-case and treat them as much as possible like any other Japanese word.


To be fair I still didn’t know what hors d’oeuvre​ actually were until i looked up オードブル in jisho, so that one’s not a japanese specific problem

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.