Question about English loanwords and accents

I was wondering about the conventions of whether or not people use their native english accent to pronounce their own name or some english words represented in romaji and even katakana.

I’m not sure if it ruins the flow of speaking Japanese, or if it’s silly not to use the sounds you already use in English

I’m mostly talking about swapping out L’s for R’s when using katakana, because as english speakers we use that ‘L’ sound all the time, and there are obviously the racist tropes around ‘engrish’ that I don’t want to accidentally feel like I’m doing while practicing japanese.


I am always trying to pronounce them in a Japanese way. Like you said, I think it ruins the flow of speaking.
クリスマスが好きだ。- Sounds fine, and at least to me, I don’t think trying to sound like a native is racist (I wouldn’t compare the people who are seriously trying to learn Japanese to the people who make racist “engrish” jokes)
「Christmas」が好きだ。- Try saying it out loud, to me it sounds very weird.
In addition, I think a Japanese person will understand you better and be more impressed by your Japanese if you have a perfect Japanese accent!


Unless you are saying the word to represent the English version of the word, you should pronounce it the Japanese way. After all, you’re really saying a Japanese word that just happened to come from English.


I don’t think people will hear the difference between R and L, since Japanese speakers use both interchangeably, but you should probably keep the general katakanization.

Like, you can pronounce バレーボール as baleebool or bareeboor, but if you just say “volleyball” in English it’s probably gonna sound weird and you might not be understood …

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Thank you for the perspective and info! I’d say this is a solution except I’m still wondering about names for people, in english I’d always attempt to pronounce someone’s name the correct way for them, not for the language we’re speaking in, is this true for other languages and specifically japanese?

Do people tend to adopt an altered version of their name to fit in better with japanese pronunciations?

Also, nothing racist about pronouncing ら行 sounds consistently as R (or L for that matter). To the Japanese they are the same sound after all.

Maybe if it helps you can think of how it’s not racist to pronounce the French loan word toilet the English way. You will sound pretty weird if you pronounce it twalette in the middle of an English sentence.


Thank you, I do see how silly of a worry it is, but I just wanted to make sure I was being respectful and decent.

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I always call myself クリスチャン when speaking Japanese. Seems to make the most sense to me.

When speaking Swedish or English I notice I now pronounce some Japanese words in a more Japanese fashion (I say Osaka with a long Japanese お for instance), but others, like Tokyo, Karate or Sumo just sound plain weird if I pronounce them like I do in Japanese. They’re already Swedish/English words in their own right.

Same as how, when spaking Swedish or English I pronounce the s in Paris even though it’s silent in French. (And also Japanese: パリ :slight_smile: )


I don’t think this is quite accurate. The Japanese R sound isn’t the same as the English (especially American English) R or L sounds. If you said Japanese words (even loan words) with an American R or L pronunciation, I think it would come off as quite strange.


So to me this is obvious for some reason, however, this isn’t…

I’m from the US, close to Mexico there are a lot of Spanish words / names all over. Take Guadalupe for example. the “lupe” is often pronounced “loop” where I’m from, but obviously in Spanish its more similar to how you’d say it in Japanese loo-peh.

Which way should you pronounce it then? :slight_smile: :slight_smile: I feel out of place saying it properly in Spanish in front of my friends who don’t speak Spanish at all, and vice versa with people who do speak Spanish.

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Ah, that’s probably true.

Actually I can’t really pronounce a rolling R anyway :slight_smile:

Being born in southern Sweden, my natural R is actually like a French one! (Though it’s of no use to me since I was raised near Stockholm and that’s the dialect I speak…)

Anyway… not much of an authority on R sounds I guess!

I think my Japanese R just kinda turns out right because that’s how it sounds when I fake a standard Swedish R? :sweat:

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I’d pronounce it “loo-peh”, but I don’t think you can go by me on that one. I might be biased since I took a few years of Spanish in high school (not that I remember much).

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There’s also some names and words in english where we use or attempt to use the original pronunciation.
Irish or Welsh names (Siobhan comes to mind)
also there are some foods like Croissant where we don’t pronounce the r to imitate the french way of saying it, but we don’t give it as much accent.

I’m not sure what factors in deciding which loan words we preserve the pronunciation for, maybe it’s proximity to the culture and language those words belong to?

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Ya, I’m typically the same way. I grew up super close to Mexico so I don’t have much of accent but you would think I would if you just looked at me!

It’s sometimes awkward! :stuck_out_tongue:

I live in Austin and there is a Guadalupe Street. Most people just end up pronouncing it the way all the other residents due which is which the ‘loop’ version. Even on the news they pronounce it that way. :sweat_smile:

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Why hello fellow Austinite. That is exactly the street I’m talking about :slight_smile: I just call it the drag to avoid it lol :slight_smile:

All I hear is loop up here in Austin. I’ve been here like 12 years and it took me a few years before it sounded natural.

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At school, where I’m supposed to be teaching English, I’ll use the normal pronunciation of my name, “Lee.” But if I’m calling the staff room on the phone and a random teacher picks up, I’ll use リー. It doesn’t make a huge difference there, but it’s just what I end up doing. Because on the phone I’m speaking Japanese and I’m trying to make it easy on the other person.

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In Quebec French, we mostly pronounce English words like anglophones would. We may not always pronounce “h’s” and substitute “th’s” for “t’s” or “d’s” since they don’t exist in French. For example, words like “parking”, “wiper”, “Apple” and “screenshot” are almost always pronounced like in English. However, French and English are not so different. I don’t think it would work well in Japanese.

Do you have any favorite Japanese restaurants here in town? I’m up north. Tomodachi sushi is the best sushi I’ve ever had, but its expensive.

I like to go to Haru Ramen frequently. I’ve definitely done Ramen Tatsuya. The first time, I went I was like omg this ramen is TOO rich.

I’m like 0 for 3 on Japanese steakhouses. I’ve done Kobe and it was just weak. I didn’t sit at the grill though. I can’t remember the other two off the top of my head, but they definitely didn’t stand out.

You can’t private message on here can you? Didn’t want to spam people with local specifics.

I would just say it the way you think it sounds better(to your Japanese learners brain)

My name is Lucas(L oo k au ss) I would pronounce it ルーカス(muted vowel), when speaking to a native speaker.

I’m from farther north, OK, and I still pronounce it g ua de loo peh, just like quesadilla(kay suh dee ya).