How NOT to use katakana to learn English.


| - Tim Lake |

In a previous post on the blog, we talked about how you can use some katakana words to learn English because there are a lot that are essentially the same in English. Of course, you have to change the pronunciation, which involves dropping the extra vowel sounds.


However, you have to be careful with using katakana words in English for two reasons. First, there are some words that are from English but the way they are used in Japanese is quite different. These are sometimes called false friends in linguistics. Second, there are a lot of katakana words that are not originally from English, so obviously you can’t use them when you speak English.




Here are some common katakana words that you can’t use in English, with the equivalent English words you can use.



クレーム , which comes from claim. However, the correct English word to use is complaint (n.) or complain (v.)
クレームという言葉がありますが、これはclaimから来ています。しかし、正しい英単語はcomplaint (n.) もしくはcomplain (v.) です。
“We complained about the terrible service at the restaurant.”


マンション which comes from mansion, but a mansion is a huge house that rich people live in. The correct word is apartment or flat.
マンションはmansionという単語からカタカナになっていますが、実はmansionという単語はお金持ちが住む豪邸のことです。正しくは apartment または flat になります。
“We live in an apartment that overlooks the park.”


コンセント - I’m not sure where this word comes from but the correct word is plug socket.
コンセント:この言葉がどこから来たのかわかりませんが、正しい言葉は「plug socket」です。
“Where is the plug socket? I’d like to charge my phone.”


トランプ comes from trump, which has a few different meanings. However the correct word is playing cards (n.) or to play cards (v.).
トランプはtrumpから来ており、いくつかの異なる意味を持っています。しかし、正しい言葉はplaying cards (n.)またはto play cards (v.)です。
“If you have some playing cards, I can show you a magic trick.”


バイキング , which, strangely enough, comes from the word viking! What you really mean in English is buffet.
これはとても不思議なのですが、Viking (8世紀から11世紀にかけて、スカンジナビア半島やデンマークから海洋を渡ってヨーロッパ各地を侵攻した北方ゲルマン族の通称)という言葉に由来しています。本当の意味での英単語は、buffetです。
“We had a nice buffet breakfast at the hotel every morning.”</>p


ヒップ comes from hip, but the really meaning in English is bottom or buttocks.
“This exercise is good for strengthening your buttock muscles.”


アルバイト comes from a German word “Arbeit” which means to work. In English the correct word is part-time job.
アルバイトは、ドイツ語で「働く」を意味する「Arbeit」に由来します。英語ではpart-time jobというのが正しい表現です。
“When I was a student I had two part-time jobs.”


パン comes from Portuguese and Spanish, but the English word is bread.
“I don’t eat bread very often, I prefer rice.”


リニューアル comes from the English word renewal. However, it is better to say remodel or renovate.
リニューアルは、英語の renewal に由来します。しかし、remodelやrenovateと表現した方が良いでしょう。
“This house was recently renovated.”


ズボン comes from an old French word, but in English there are two choices: 1.) trousers (British) or 2.) pants (American).
“He bought two pairs of trousers in Zara.”


Well, there are a few to get you started.