Just a skosh of Japanese to English loan words – 英会話・英語 アミック
A few months ago, a friend introduced me to WaniKani.com as a way to learn kanji. Instead of simple symbol-meaning flashcards, the site gives you a mnemonic or other memory device to help you remember the reading for each kanji it teaches.
The other day I was introduced to the word 少し (sukoshi), meaning ‘a little’. I didn’t think anything special of it until I looked at the reading notes:
Did you know that this word created an English word you probably already know? Have you ever heard someone say “just a skosh”? That’s 少し! Hopefully you know this English word and therefore know this Japanese word as well.
This blew my mind, and if you had asked me before where I thought ‘skosh’ originated from I probably would have guessed from a Scandinavian or Indigenous peoples’ language. It also made me wonder what other Japanese words have snuck into the English language without me realizing, of which I found a few more that surprised me:
- Emoji (e/絵 “picture” + moji /文字 “character”)
- Soy (I knew that shoyu/醤油 was Japanese for soy sauce but never put two and two together)
- Tycoon (from 大君 meaning ‘high commander’ or ‘great prince’)
- Honcho (from 班長 hanchō, meaning ‘head of something’ or ‘chief’)
- Rickshaw (from 人力車 jinrikisha/ninryokusha)