Japanese words borrowed into English

English is a mongrel language!
By Stefan Chiarantano

English has evolved by incorporating words from other languages. Here's a list of Japanese words borrowed in English. Many of these words have no equivalent in English:

aikido a type of Japanese martial arts
anime animated comics
bonsai dwarfed trees, a tree trimmed to grow in a clay pot
geisha a professional entertainer/artist
haiku a type of Japanese poetry
hara-kiri a form of ritual suicide, belly cutting, also known as seppuku
ikebana Japanese flower arranging
judo a type of Japanese martial arts
ju-jitsu a type of Japanese martial arts
kamikaze 1) divine wind; 2) Japanese WW II pilots who crashed their planes loaded with explosives onto Allied ships
karaoke singing pop songs to a recorded musical backing
karate a type of Japanese martial arts
kendo a type of Japanese martial arts
kimono an outer garment usually made of silk
manga Japanese comics
matcha powdered green tea
mizo fermeted soybean paste made from soybeans, sea salt and koji
ninja Japanese warrior
obi a sash wrapped around a kimono
origami a Japanese art of folding origami paper into intricate shapes and designs
sake alcohol made from fermented rice
samurai a Japanese warrior
sayonara good-bye
sumo Japanese wrestling
sushi small balls of vinegared rice garnished with slice of raw fish or stuffed with food and wrapped in paper thin seaweed (nori)
sukiyaki a Japanese dish of meat, vegetables, and mushrooms cooked in a broth
tatami a straw mat
tycoon business leader
tsunami a giant tidal wave generated by an undersea earthquake that can reach land and cause extensive damage
ukiyo-e wood block prints (Hokusai's "The Wave")
wasabi a type of horseradish eaten with sushi and sushimi
zen one sect of Japanese Buddhist tradition

The above is not an exhaustive list but demonstrates how English absorbs new words as well as highlighting its dynamic quality. Now, can you think of any foreign words borrowed into English?

TEFL.net ESL Reviews & Articles© Stefan Chiarantano 2006
Stefan has been teaching English as a foreign language in Asia for the past several years. He presently teaches English in Japan. He's a Canadian with an interest in filmmaking and photography.