Category Archives: Word Origins

What’s the difference between a 翻訳者 (‘honyausha’) and 翻訳家 (‘honyakuka’)?

In recent years I’ve gradually transitioned from simply learning Japanese to becoming deeply interested in Japanese to English translation. Besides actually doing a lot of translations myself, I have been trying to understand how to talk about translation in Japanese, in particular understanding the nuances of various terms related to translation. As you may already… Read More »

A great Japanese word: 脱サラ (dassara) –– getting away from The Grind

I’m sure many people are working full time for a company that they don’t own any part of, getting paid on a periodic rate based on a set contract. And I’m also willing to bet that a good portion of those people wish they could go independent and become their own boss, choosing what and… Read More »

Confusing Japanese loanword: エール (Eeru)

As you’ve probably already discovered, Japanese has a huge number of loanwords, especially from English––and that number seems to be increasing fast. Fortunately, a majority of these can be guessed from context if you can manage to match them up to their original word by sound. But some of them are hard to guess because… Read More »

Japanese expressions “nimaime” (二枚目) and “sanmaime” (三枚目): the good, and the funny

While interactions with native Japanese speakers I have occasionally come across the expressions “nimaime” (二枚目) and “sanmaime” (三枚目). It turns out they have somewhat opposite meanings and are easy to confuse, so I thought I would go over their meanings and origins here. As you may know, “mai” (枚) is used as a counting suffix… Read More »

Japanese expression highlight: “ああ言えばこう言う” (aa ieba kou iu)

In this article I would like to talk about an interesting Japanese phrase: “aa ieba kou iu” (ああ言えばこう言う). This, like many of the phrases of expressions I write about on this blog, is a phrase that I have heard used in conversations with native speakers as well as used myself. This expression is interesting because… Read More »

A confusing Japanese loanword in English: “Hibachi” (it may not mean what you think it does!)

Sometime a while ago I wrote an article about confusing Japanese loanwords which originally came from English words, and then a week or so ago I wrote another article about the reverse: a confusing English loanword that came from Japanese. Very recently I learned of another word that falls in this second category, so I… Read More »

Japanese expression: “七光り” (nana hikari) – Benefits received on account of a father

In this post I’d like to introduce another expression that I picked up from everyday conversation with a Japanese native speaker: “七光り” (“nanahikari”) You may have noticed that this word literally means “seven lights”, but out of context it is hard to guess what it actually means. So let’s look at an example sentence. 彼は親の七光りでその会社についたよ。… Read More »