When 茶 is 茶: happy coincidences between Japanese and your native tongue

As it happens, the word for tea in Thai, which is my mother tongue, is also cha :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: This got me wondering if anyone else has come across Japanese words/meanings (or even readings) that correspond beautifully to your own native language and/or any other languages you speak. This could also be mnemonics that you came up on your own in your own language. For example, さと in Thai happens to be a Thai-style sake typically produced in the countryside (i.e. 里).


I remember reading somewhere that a lot of Asian languages got the word for tea from India, so there’s probably not that much of a coincidence between Thai and Japanese.

As for connections between my native Swedish and Japanese… そう is pronounced like “så” and both mean, among other things, “like that”. That was pretty fun to me :slight_smile:


Tea is “cha”/“chai” or something similar in about half of the world’s languages, while the other half uses “te”/“tea” or something similar. Both seem to be derived from Chinese. There’s an interesting wiki article about that.


It’s “chá” in Portuguese, too! A lot of languages got the same pronunciation for tea. Except like English and Spanish, which as I’ve heard, is because of the “T” that they used to mark the crates that carried the herbs. So, English started calling it “T” and Spanish called it their pronunciation of the letter which is similar to て.

Well, for cases of similarities between Japanese and Portuguese, I recently searched “powder” on jisho and got a heavy chuckle from the reading of 粉 . “Kona” in Portuguese is slang for the female genitals. 彼女 is also a fun word because “Kanojo” is a common expression for when something disgusts you.


Portuguese :brazil: native speaker here. There are some similarities between my mother language and japanese. The word for tea is one of them, in Portuguese it is chá (pronounced shaa in english) which is similar to the japanese 茶. Also, we have something pretty similar to the ending particle ね: in Portuguese we use the word in the end of the sentences as a way to expect the listener to agree with what we are saying. For example: Aquele cara ali é alto, né? in Japanese it would be あいつは高いですね? (in EN: That guy is tall, isn’t he?).
Finally, Japanese have some words borrowed from the Portuguese due to the Portuguese navigators of the 16th century: Words like パン (from Portuguese pão (bread) and ボタン (from Portuguese botão (button). Check this page if you’re interested in more words :smile: : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_Japanese_words_of_Portuguese_origin


Ah, so that’s why it isn’t バットン :slight_smile:


Cha is a synonym for tea in the UK although not used that often (although used in the phrase: does anyone fancy a cup of cha?)


坊や and boy have the same meaning and almost the same pronunciation

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The particle ね means something like “isn’t it” in English which is “n’est ce pas” in French. “N’est” is pronounced ね.

Also, koro means heart in Esperanto which is こころ in Japanese.


I also love the そう - så coincidence. :smiley: It’s also fun to hear the casual いや for “no” when “ja” is pronounced very similarly (and means “yes”, for the non-Swedes).

Also: シロクマくん!


That’s a lot of letters just to say ね.


Yeah, I’ve gotten so used to the word that I’d never realised!

Do opposites count?

山 in Russian means “pit”(as in hole in the ground), and read exactly the same.


I tend to think that the feminine 〜わ sounds like ~va, which gives it a pretty different feel! パンを買ったわ => “Jag köpte bröd, va” :slight_smile:

EDIT: I guess it would be somewhat similar to “I bought bread, yeah?” in English but it’s difficult to find an equivalent :slight_smile:


Regarding happy coincidences: ない means “to not have” (among other meanings), while “n-ai” in Romanian means “you don’t have”.

and randomly:
のろい means “curse” in Japanese, but “noroi” means “mud” in Romanian.


Hey! That’s a fun thread!
I had several cases in mind but I can only remember 座る(すわる) = to sit.
For some reason I’ve always found it to sound very similar to its French equivalent: “s’asseoir” which could be pronounced “sasuwar”!
A bit farfetched I know…


ない also sounds a bit like “nej”, which means “no” in Swedish, so that was an easy one as well.

Another thing that comes to mind is how the on’yomi for 食 (しょく) sounds a bit like “tjock” which means “fat” in Swedish :slight_smile:


I am Italian native speaker, and the pronunciation for 女 sounds a lot like ‘donna’ in Italian (except for the ‘d’ sound) and it means woman too, so I find it easy to rember.


I find it very interesting that the “n” sound is associated with negative phrases across so many different languages.
“No”, “Non”, “Não”, “Nie”, “Nicht”, “Nada”, “Nothing”, “Niente”, “Nej”, “Nai” and many others!


Just thought of another one. The Thai word for in or inside is ‘nai’ and 内 is ない too!