From purasuchikku to Pokémon

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English is full of loan words from many different languages. According to this article, it’s also the number one exporter of loan words to other languages. The list starts with “near universal” words like OK, Internet and hamburger.  Read the article to find out more.

The article mentions loan words in Japanese, too. This part was particularly interesting and a good reminder for students about “katakana” pronunciation of English:

“Because English and Japanese have very different sound systems, for instance, Japan often adapts words in ways that make them nearly unrecognizable to English-speakers.”

… like “purasuchikku” (プラスチック). It’s hard to read in Romaji, isn’t it? That feeling of “Huh? What’s that?” may be a bit similar to what native speakers of English feel if you pronounce the “English” word that way. So, if you’re not confident in your pronunciation, the best thing to do is to explain the word in other ways, too.

“Purasuchikku.”

“Huh? What’s that?”

“It’s a material. Not glass or metal or wood or paper. It’s what many shopping bags are made of. It’s what this bottle of tea is made of. It’s a big ecological problem because we use too much purasuchikku and throw it away. We should recycle and reuse. And we should not buy purasuchikku bottles but use our own recyclable water and tea bottles.”

“Oh! Plastic!”

“Right. Purasuchikku. That’s what I said.”

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