Category Archives: Word Origins

Japanese astronomical terms: “chidousetsu” (地動説) and “tendousetsu” (天動説)

In this post I want to cover two Japanese scientific terms I have come across: “chidousetsu” and “tendousetsu”. These are generally written in kanji as 地動説 and 天動説, respectively. Chidosetsu is used to describe the astronomical model whereby the Sun is at the center of the solar system, with planets (including the Earth) revolving around… Read More »

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 »