sci.lang.japan FAQ

4. Words from other languages

Although present-day Japanese usually borrows from English for new words (see 5. Japanese and English), many Japanese words, such as the words for coffee, bread, and cigarettes, originated from Portuguese (see 4.2. Which Japanese words come from Portuguese?) and Dutch (see 4.4. Which Japanese words come from Dutch?) and date back hundreds of years. Another big influence was German (see 4.3. Which Japanese words come from German?), particularly in medicine, during the Meiji restoration.

An "urban legend" is that arigatō (`thank you' in Japanese) originates from Portuguese `obrigado'. In fact this is just a coincidence: see 4.1. Is related to Portuguese "obrigado"?.


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