5 Confusing Katakana Words!
I hope you had fun while the cherry blossoms were in full bloom! It was nice seeing some of you at the Hitachi sakura festival.
Today I'll be talking about Katakana!
Katakana words are often convenient for me as an English learner of Japanese, and for Japanese learners of English. This is because it's where our languages overlap, and it can make learning vocabulary much easier! I was very happy when I started learning Japanese to find that "orange juice" is simply オレンジジュース and "ice cream" simply アイスクリーム.
But beware! Although katakana can make English easier at times, it can also cause some big misunderstandings. Occasionally, Japanese Katakana words end up very or completely different to the English equivalent.
Here are just five examples I've encountered in the past.
Girls, take note! As someone who likes shopping, I've been confused by this many times. In the UK and US, almost all girls have their ears pierced. As a result, "earrings" are always for pierced ears. (We never use the word "pierce" for accessories.) If you want to find Japanese イヤリング abroad, you should ask for "clip-on earrings".
To summarise: ピアス=earrings // イヤリング=clip-on earrings.
We discovered this difference the other day in the lobby! When Japanese people say ヒップ, they are talking about a larger area than the English "hips". "Hips" in English refers to the two bones on each side at the top of your legs (腰骨). We often talk about having "wide hips" or "narrow hips", talking about how far it is from the right to the left side of your body. But ヒップ in Japan means right to left and front to back, including your "butt" in English. When talking about this area in in English, you should separate hips (right to left) and butt (backside).
To summarise: ヒップ= hips and butt
This is a dangerous word in English, so be careful! In Japan, ナイーブ has a neutral meaning: innocent, kind of sensitive, and straightforward. However, in English "naïve" means that you are ignorant, and don't know about how the world works. If somebody called me naïve, I would be a bit upset and angry.
To summarise: ナイーブ=sensitive/innocent // 世間知らず=naïve
You may or may not be aware of this already, but "mansion" in English means something very different to the Japanese マンション. In English, a mansion is a giant house. For example, in the UK, there are a lot of huge country mansions which used to belong to rich aristocrats. And, in Beverly Hills, a lot of superstars own mansions. As such, if you tell someone you live in a mansion, they'll be very surprised! Instead of "mansion", you can just say "apartment".
To summarise: マンション=apartment 大邸宅=mansion
Honestly, I have no idea why this word is used in Japan, because it's nothing like either the American nor British word. In the UK, we say "plug socket" and in the US they say "outlet". Neither of these are even close to コンセント! In English, "consent" actually has a completely different meaning. It means permission. For example, "I gave consent for my picture to be used on the website". If you're abroad, then, don't ask to use the consent! People will wonder what you're asking for permission for.
To summarise: コンセント=plug socket(UK)/outlet(US) 承諾=consent
These are just a few of many examples I could give of Katakana words which have confused me in the past! So watch out when it comes to Katakana words - they may not mean what you think.
However, often we learn by making mistakes, so don't feel scared to use a Katakana word if you're not sure about the English! Trying is better than nothing. Good luck!
Have a fantastic week!
All the best,