How to use Katakana to Learn English

カタカナ語を使った英語学習法

| - Tim Lake |

カタカナ語を使った英語学習法

As adult language we can take advantage of some shortcuts to help speed up the learning process. One simple way is to find words that are almost the same in both languages. This is quite common among languages, such as Spanish and Italian, that have a common origin, but what about with English and Japanese? Of course, you already know the answer: katakana words. All katakana words are loan words, words that have been imported from another language, and a lot of them come from English. Learning the proper English words of common katakana words is particularly useful for beginners and can be a quick way to build your vocabulary. Just be careful as not all katakana words are from English many are from Portuguese, Dutch, French and German too.

大人だからこそ使える、言語習得の近道があります。簡単な方法の一つは、二つの言語でほぼ同じ単語を見つけることです。これはスペイン語やイタリア語など、共通起源の言語同士では大変一般的な方法ですが、英語と日本語の場合はどうでしょうか?もちろん皆さんはすでに答えを知っていますね、つまりカタカナ語です。すべての片仮名による単語は、外来語、他言語から伝わってきた言葉であり、その多くは英語から来ています。良く使うカタカナ語に相当する英単語を学べば、特に初心者の方にとっては語彙を迅速に増やす事ができるため、大きな助けとなることでしょう。ただしすべてのカタカナ語が英語由来という訳ではないことに注意が必要です。ポルトガル語、オランダ語、フランス語、ドイツ語から来ている単語も多いのです。

 

Ignoring words that are names for places, sports, food, or people, here is a list of some katakana words and their equivalent English proper words. These are words that can more or less be used directly because the meaning is more or less the same. Just remember the pronunciation is quite different with katakana words often adding more vowels and more syllables. Also, in some cases the katakana word is a shortened version of the English word.

場所、スポーツ、食べ物、または人々の名前などの単語はおいておき、ここにいくつかのカタカナ語とそれらに相当する英単語リストをご紹介します。これらの単語は意味がほぼ同じなので、多少の差こそあれそのまま使用できます。発音はかなり異なる、ということは覚えておいてください。カタカナ語には母音と音節が追加されることがよくあります。 また、カタカナ語は英単語の短縮版のこともあります。

 

Katakana

English

Example

マイク
mic (microphone)
He always hogs the mic at the karaoke, no one else gets a chance to sing!
スーパーマーケット
supermarket
Please get some milk from the supermarket on your way home.
コンビニ
conveni(ence store)
There’s a conveni opposite my house.
エアコン
air con (air conditioning / air conditioner)
I can’t live with out an air con in the summer.
デパート 
department store
My favourite department store is iSetan.
パソコン
PC - personal computer
I need to get a new PC for work. This one is too slow.
エンジン
engine
Your car needs a new engine!
カメラ
camera
I don’t use a camera anymore, I just use my smartphone.
ガラス
glass
Do you have another glass? I’d like some wine.
カレンダ
calendar
My mother gave me a calendar for Christmas. The pictures are beautiful.
テレビ
television / T.V.
What’s on TV tonight?
ホテル
hotel
We stayed in a lovely hotel overlooking the ocean.
レストラン
restaurant
They went out to eat at a restaurant for their anniversary.
ミシン
sewing machine
I can’t repair this without a sewing machine.
バー
bar
We went to a new cocktail bar for a drink!
スタイル
style
I like your style.
バター
butter
The best scrambled eggs always have butter in them.
ドラマ
(TV) drama
I always watch dramas on Netflix after work.
エレベーター
elevator (US) / lift (UK)
I can’t believe this building doesn’t have an elevator!
ストーリ
story
The story was good but the acting was terrible.
エスカレーター
escalator
We don’t need to use the escalator, let’s take the stairs!
タクシー
taxi
I’ll call you a taxi.
メーク
make-up
Where did you learn to do make-up?
ソファ
sofa
This sofa is so comfortable.
アルコール
alcohol 
She gave up drinking alcohol after that night!
アンサー
answer; solution
Together we can find the best answer.
バーゲン
bargain
These shoes were a bargain, I got them in the sale.
チケット
ticket
Could you get tickets to the concert?
ファンタジック
fantastic
The Christmas party was fantastic.
ギブ(アップ)
give (up)
This test is too hard. I give up!
ホーム
(plat)form
The train leaving from platform 3 is the 15:05 for Central Station.
クラブ
club
She joined the local tennis club and now plays once a week.
マグカップ
mug
This is my favourite coffee mug.
ノート
notebook
I bought a new notebook at Sekaido.
オーライ
a(ll) right(t); okay
Everything is all right. No need to panic.
リモコン
remo(te) con(troller)
Where’s the remote?!
スイートルーム
a suite room in a hotel
They upgraded us to a suite room!
パンツ
pants; underpants
I buy my underpants in Uniqlo.
アパート
apart(ment)
Their apartment is close to Shinjuku gyoen.
ヨット
yacht; sailboat
He told me he has a yacht.
シャワー
shower
I have a shower every morning.
ミーティング
meeting
There is a big meeting at work on Friday.

 

Well, there you go. That was a quick way to add some English vocabulary words, wasn’t it?! Were there any that you didn’t know? There are many more, so what other katakana words do you know that you can use directly in English? Let us know.

さて、いかがでしたでしょうか。英単語を手っ取り早く増やせたのではないでしょうか?!リストの中に知らない単語はありましたか?まだまだ他にもあります。そのまま英語としても使えるカタカナ語、あなたが他に思いつくものがあれば、私たちにも教えて下さいね。

 

Another time we’ll give you some katakana words that need a bit of translation, because while the meaning is similar it’s not exactly the same and using them directly could cause a few raised eyebrows (cause some confusion).

また別の機会に、今度は少し翻訳が必要となるカタカナ語も紹介します。意味は似ていても、全く同じではない単語があって、それをそのまま使ってしまうと相手が混乱したり、眉をひそめられてしまう事があります。

 

Sources: https://www.thoughtco.com/most-common-loan-words-in-japanese-2027852 ; https://www.fluentu.com/blog/japanese/katakana-words/ ; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_gairaigo_and_wasei-eigo_terms

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