Would it sound weird if you used the pronunciation of カタカナ words from the country they were derived from?

So, let’s say we have the word ジャングル. Would it be weird to just pronounce “Jungle” in a way an American/British/Australian/… person would do it?


In the middle of a Japanese sentence, you mean? Yeah, I’d imagine that sounds weird, and might even be hard to understand for Japanese speakers.

Keep in mind katakana words aren’t “foreign words but pronounced Japanese”, they’re Japanese words that just happen to be adopted from a foreign language. Their usage sometimes doesn’t even match up with the original.


Yeah it would be weird




Oh, I haven’t noticed that so far. I have barely paid attention to Katakana words because I always assumed simplicity behind them. Do you have a small example off the top of your head?


Plenty, but the first one I can think of is that マンション does not mean mansion but apartment building


Yes, it would be very weird.

Also, some of these words like コンセント (plug, wall socket, from “concentric plug”) you can’t even pronounce in a non-Japanese way, because they’ve been phonetically deformed to fit Japanese or their current pronunciation is more of a derivative of the original word.


Some examples off the top of my head would be…

クレーム = complaint (like to a store, boss, etc.)
テンションが高い = excited (not tension, like awkward)
マスコミ = mass media (no one really says “mass communication”)

There are plenty more katakana words created into Japanese with no equivalents in English like…

ペーパードライバー = someone with a license but never drives
ワンパターン = predictable, in a rut
バイキング = buffet
ママチャリ = electric bicycles with the baskets for kids to ride

Hope this helps! There are so many more and it’s actually interesting running across these kinds of katakana words.


Yes, it would be weird, and for many it would be impossible for Japanese people to understand you.

アルコール and alcohol don’t sound much alike.


But to further answer your question, yes it would be weird and many Japanese people might not understand. In the cases of place names or a person’s name, you can probably get by with using the foreign pronunciation.

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Nor do ホーム and “platform”.


Does this answer your question?


I love these videos where Yuta just goes out and shows stuff you normally just read about, on the street, with actual Japanese people.

How they ended up at ロープ from “world” is a mystery to me though :joy:


One of my favourite things about learning Japanese is that is has made me question my assumptions about English. I suspect there are many words in English which are ostensibly loanwords but bear relatively little relation in terms of meaning or pronunciation from their donor language.

I can’t think of that many examples, and the ones I can are mainly nouns which mean [general thing] in the donor language and have come to mean [specific type of thing] in English.

E.g Sombrero, which I think means hat, but in English would only refer to a specific kind of hat. From Japanese Katana, or from French Epee which in English would be used to refer to a Japanese sword or a particular kind of fencing foil respectively, but which I think could be used in Japanese/French to refer to, e.g. an English western broadsword (although I don’t know when you use 剣 instead of 刀 so maybe I have that wrong for Japanese?)

An English example of the pseudo loanword is probably double entendre which I don’t believe exists in French as a term.


I think you just described half of modern English :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

For example, a good part of it is borrowed from French in some way or other. To go back to マンション for instance, the English word mansion was derived from maison which just means house. But because French was the “posh” language at the time, the meaning also changed to not just mean a normal house but an extra fancy one, basically. There are bound to be a lot more examples of that.

Correct. From what I can tell the French term would be “calembour” but calling my French rusty would be generous.


And then Mansion became attached to multiple blocks. (Think Whitehaven Mansions, Hercule Poirot’s home or the breathless copy here: London’s mansion blocks: Victorian grandeur from £465k - Foxtons Blog & News ) And that is presumably why the Japanese マンション took the meaning it has. Interesting thing is I don’t think Mansion has ever meant an apartment block in American English, so presumably this is a borrowing from BrE.


As a way to put it into English, tell someone that you went to カラオケ instead of care-ih-okiee and people won’t understand. If you say 空手 instead of kah-rah-tea, or アニメ instead of the normal English "anime, " they will understand but you will sound pretentious, unless you are Japanese, in which it will sound like you are struggling with English.

Both of those things hold for Japanese. The Yuta video demonstrates not understanding, and you can see several videos making frun of 海外かぶれ.

For example: OLあるある|合コンの反省会をする海外かぶれ女 - YouTube

Also, I’m sad that their original 海外かぶれ video got removed. :frowning:


To take it one step further, in the Netherlands people use a lot of off-the-cuff English words and phrases. These aren’t loan words, just English words that Dutch people are using for fun. Even though I have a perfect American accent (I’m American), when I threw in English words the way my friends did, I pronounced them with a Dutch accent, because if I didn’t it would sound like I was switching to English or even struggling with Dutch, not like I was just intentionally borrowing a few words.


An example of English vs. English-derived meaning differences that amuses me is グラマー (glamour). In English, a nice restaurant might be glamorous. In Japanese it means an extremely voluptuous woman.