Did you know that the Japanese language keep evolve? Introducing new concepts from Western culture in Japan has always been a bit hard, due to big differences in the language. However, incorporating foreign concepts is a distinctive trait of the Japanese people!

Keep reading to find out why, by learning new vocabulary in Japanese!

To keep training with a bilingual magazine, check other interesting articles content partner Hiragana Times here!

Japanese Language Continues to Evolve, Incorporating Foreign Cultures


“Convenience stores” were introduced to Japan from the U.S. around 1970.

1970年(ねん)前後(ぜんご) に「コンビニエンスストア」がアメリカから日本(にほん) に導入(どうにゅう)されました。

Since there were no stores in Japan with this concept, the name “convenience store” was adopted as-is into the Japanese language.


However, because of its word length, the abbreviation “konbini” became widespread. The same goes for the widespread use of the word “terebi” derived from the word “television.”


The Peculiarity of the Language Force It to Evolve

Whenever a new cultural concept is introduced from overseas, the Japanese take the original language and use it as it is, evolving it into the Japanese language.


The same was true in ancient times, as for the reading parts of kanji characters introduced from China were used as Japanese characters.


However, because of the complexity of kanji, characters evolved to create hiragana and katakana.


Additionally, Japanese characters replicated sounds similar to the original sounds of foreign words such as Chinese and English. That is to say, these foreign words were modified for a Japanese pronunciation.


In other words, it is a Japaneseization of a foreign language. There are 45 sounds in Japanese, all of which can be pronounced with their variants, as well as with the long sound and double consonants that are unique to the Japanese language.


In the Meiji period (19-20th century), for the many concepts that did not exist in Japanese, the corresponding words for these concepts, introduced from the West, were created in kanji.


For example, “democracy” gave rise to the word “minshu” meaning people-oriented. Such idioms were reimported to China and are still in use today. The Japanese language is always evolving.


Hope you enjoyed it!

To learn how to write foreign words in Japanese, check this article about the Katakana syllabary.

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Japanese students from our sister institution, We English School

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