Import cars

For English speakers learning Japanese, one of the few natural advantages we have is that many English words have been assimilated into Japanese.  Particularly in the business world, you can find transliterated words like chiimu (team), fookasu (focus) and taimingu (timing) everywhere. If you’re grasping for a Japanese word and want to have a punt, take the English word, switch the vowels around a bit, add an extra vowel sound on the end and you may have chanced upon a loan word with the same meaning.

Except when you haven’t.  Frequently, English words imported into Japanese take on subtly different shades of meaning, or are massaged into completely different words altogether.

Here’s an interesting series of reassigned English words I learned recently.  Can you guess their meanings in Japanese?  The words are:

  • baby car – (bebii kaa)
  • open car – (oopen kaa)
  • vacuum car – (bakyuumu kaa)
  • my car – (mai kaa)

<Thinking music…>

Okay, let’s see how you did:

  • baby car = stroller
    • I saw my neighbour walking her son in a baby car today.
  • open car = convertible car
    • I could tell he was having a mid-life crisis when he bought an open car.
  • vacuum car = septic tank pumping truck
    • Thank goodness we don’t have vacuum cars in big towns any more.
  • my car (noun) = privately owned car
    • Not, it’s not a rental, it’s a “my car“.

And there’s plenty more where that came from.  You certainly never run out of things to learn being a language student, even when facing things you thought you already knew inside and out.

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3 thoughts on “Import cars

  1. Where are the pics/vids? More importantly – when are next in Oz? Let me know so we can go and eat enourmous steaks at some pub.

    • Yes, I know, I shirked my duty as a photo blog. Next time!

      Definitely keen for some steakage! Looks like the next chance to be home won’t be until Christmas again, but at the rate the year is flying past, it will be here before too long at all…

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