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Thread: Why use a Japanese word in English when English has a word for it?

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    Default Why use a Japanese word in English when English has a word for it?

    It really annoys me when people are speaking English and then throw in foreign words which actually have an exact equivalent word in the English language. There are a few examples that stick out here for me:

    Seiyuu - This is the one that really annoys me. Seiyuu is the proper word for "voice actor" in Japanese, so as soon as a voice actor comes from Japan, he or she is not a voice actor in English terms, they're "Seiyuu" instead. Doesn't make sense; they're actors who provide voices, so they're voice actors. Which English words did "seiyuu" derive from?

    Anime - A word I assume to be derived from the way they write "animation" in transliterated Japanese. They're still charicatures animated by overlaying cells and indivually drawn frames, so how is it not still a cartoon? Why do we have to use the word "anime" just because it's from Japan and uses their drawing style? A sponge cake that's light brown and has strawberry jam in the middle may be called a Victoria Sandwich, but everyone still just calls it cake.

    Honourable mention: Tokusatsu, meaning "Special effects". However, seeing as these special effects shows seem to be pretty much a unique kind of genre in Japan (the live action Sailor Moon is not something we'd ever see spawned from the western world) I tend to let this one slide and even grudgingly use it. Sure enough, they were being done in Japan long before Americans started using ridiculous special effects in their kids' shows, and these even get dubbed "American tokusatsu" at times. Makes enough sense I guess.
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    Beautiful Elf Boy Mister Adequate's Avatar
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    Okay, when I am in charge, #1 change to language lessons is that people now learn the ways in which languages evolve and change.

    *Headdesks*

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    oreodaredattoomotteyagaru JKTrix's Avatar
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    I think a much bigger issue with these words you should have is the word 'Katana'. When you think 'Katana', you think 'Japanese Sword from Japan' (or even *shudder* Samurai Sword). But in Japanese, katana just means 'sword'. Even now with the influence of western style swords, Japanese would still generally call them 'katana'.

    Words are borrowed all the time from other languages to take on similar (yet sometimes simultaneously different) meanings from the original language.

    'Tokusatsu' in English is pretty obscure, unless there's some big culture of tokusatsu fans. Which I guess there is. Seiyuu is used a lot in the anime culture, because people in the anime culture--who are into Japanese things--should know what it means. It's just a way of simply identifying whatever they're talking about. Instead of saying 'Japanese Voice Actor' or 'Japanese Cartoon' or 'Japanese Sword' or 'Japanese Live Action Show With Cheesy Special Effects', they've adopted the Japanese word for it.

    And of course, everything is better in Japan. /sarcasm

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    Nerfed in Continuum Shift Zeromus_X's Avatar
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    Seiyuu - This is the one that really annoys me. Seiyuu is the proper word for "voice actor" in Japanese, so as soon as a voice actor comes from Japan, he or she is not a voice actor in English terms, they're "Seiyuu" instead. Doesn't make sense; they're actors who provide voices, so they're voice actors. Which English words did "seiyuu" derive from?
    I don't believe any, since it's a Japanese word. In general, I see Seiyuu used when referring to Japanese voice actors, and Voice Actor or VA for English voice actors or otherwise. For example: "Jade Curtiss: Seiyuu: Takehito Koyasu. Voice Actor: Kirk Thornton" (Not the best example, but you get the idea). I personally just use the term 'voice actor'.

    Anime - A word I assume to be derived from the way they write "animation" in transliterated Japanese. They're still charicatures animated by overlaying cells and indivually drawn frames, so how is it not still a cartoon? Why do we have to use the word "anime" just because it's from Japan and uses their drawing style? A sponge cake that's light brown and has strawberry jam in the middle may be called a Victoria Sandwich, but everyone still just calls it cake.
    This is actually rather humorous because in Japanese, Anime (which you're right, it is short for animation) refers to all types of animation, not just Japanese animation. But in English and in other languages it's come to refer to specifically Japanese animation. Go figure.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by JKTrix View Post
    Instead of saying 'Japanese Voice Actor' or 'Japanese Cartoon' or 'Japanese Sword' or 'Japanese Live Action Show With Cheesy Special Effects', they've adopted the Japanese word for it.
    It's when they say "Japanese anime", "Japanese tokusatsu" and "Japanese seiyuu" that the pointlessness really seeps...
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    .wav Lawr's Avatar
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    Seppuku
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    Ogre Araciel's Avatar
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    english adopts many words from many languages...it's a kind of adaptation to make you think in that mindset. if you say 'japanese cartoon' it sounds like you're talking about it to someone who doesn't know anything about it. if you say 'anime' or even japanese anime, it's more likely you're talking to someone who knows what you're talking about....it's part of the japanophile subculture.

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    Zachie Chan Ouch!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sagensyg View Post
    Seppuku
    There's a little bit more to that one. =P

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    .wav Lawr's Avatar
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    Lol. Ok whatever :rolleyes:

    Well you'll probably encounter those when you read fan translaed 'Japanese Comic Books'.

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    Back of the net Heath's Avatar
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    I think that particularly on the Internets anime, at least, is a useful way of specifically talking about Japanese animation regardless of its meaning in Japanese. It's useful it unnecessary, I guess.
    Not my words Carol, the words of Top Gear magazine.

  11. #11

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    I have no idea of what you just said. I hope you have fun.

  12. #12
    Draw the Drapes rubah's Avatar
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    It's not exactly the first time it's happened

    It used to be fashionable for people to throw in random words of French. "Rôle" is one of those (read some books written in the 19th century in the US and look for the accent over the o :}) Nowdays, young actors and actresses auditioning for a role never give a thought to the word's not being of English origin.

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    Ogre Araciel's Avatar
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    i only audition for parts thank you very much.

  14. #14
    Ciddieless since 2004
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    I really don't think it's something to get too worked up over. At least you'd know what they're talking about: if someone mentioned "seiyuu" or "tokusatsu" to me I wouldn't know what they're talking about.
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  15. #15

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    The terms you mentioned aren't really Japanese; by now, they're English terms for things from Japan. Languages change.

    However, it is irritating when people randomly use normal Japanese words while they're talking. It sounds like nonsense in both languages.

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