sci.lang.japan FAQ / 4. Words from other languages

4.6. Which Japanese words come from Russian?

Compared to such European languages as English or Portuguese, the Russian language has not been a major source of loan words, most of them representing cultural phenomena peculiar to Russia. Loan words from Russian are mostly spelt in katakana.

Nineteenth century Russian literature had a great influence on formation of the new Japanese novel. Therefore a great deal of gairaigo from Russian pertain to objects and ideas discussed in Russian literature of the period.


Here is a list of some words from Russian which have survived until the present day.

Japanese (rōmaji) Japanese (kanji/kana) Russian English meaning Notes
borishichi ボルシチ борщ borscht
burinui ブリヌイ блины pancake
ikura イクラ
икра ikra, (red) caviar
kombināto コンビナート комбинат industrial complex Originated from the USSR.
matoryōshika マトリョーシカ матрёшка matryoshka (Russian dolls)
pechika ペチカ печка Manchurian stove
piroshiki ピロシキ пирожки pirozhki
votoka ヴォトカ
водка vodka


This was a contribution to the "wiki sci.lang.japan FAQ" (see 17.3. FAQ Format). I am currently in search of the contributor's name, which I have mislaid. Apologies.

sci.lang.japan FAQ / 4. Words from other languages

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