Why did I nearly get into a fight when I pointed out some yakuza in the street?
Unlike “mafia”, the word “yakuza” was originally an insult (it is derived from the worst possible score in a dice game) and still retains some of that negative impact. This is based on a friend’s real experience and question, btw!
Why is karaoke pronounced “kareeokee” in English?
Because it has an unusual succession of vowel sounds for an English word.
Why is “karaoke” written in katakana despite being a Japanese word (Japanese words are usually written in hiragana or kanji)?
According to some pop etymological stories the word karaoke comes from から (空 -kara, meaning empty) and オケ (oke- short for orchestra, hence “empty orchestra”), hence the last part of the expression comes from English and therefore katakana is natural.
Why is Noh (能 のう) spelt with an h in English, unlike almost any other Japanese words?
It one of the older schemes for showing Japanese pronunciation with the English alphabet, “oh” was used to show a long O sound. For some reason, with Noh it has stuck (whereas we never write Tohkyoh, aikidoh, judoh etc), perhaps to avoid confusion with the English word “no”.
Why is Noh written with the kanji for “help”?
Why do some American geeks use the word “otaku” as a badge of pride, whereas in Japan it is almost entirely negative?
Why is the Japanese word “gyoza” usually used in English for the Chinese dumplings, not a Chinese equivalent?
Easier to pronounce??
Why is the word “sake” sometimes written in English with an accent on the last letter?
It’s supposed to remind you to pronounce the last syllable and not say it like the similarly spelled word in the English expression “For Pete’s sake!”
Why do English speakers say Akita Inu instead of Akitaken (秋田犬）?
It is one possible pronunciation of the three kanji used to write the name of the dog, but the last kanji is usually pronounced “ken” when used in a compound like this. Did one American with Intermediate level Japanese result in this pronunciaiton spreading over the whole world?
Why do some Japanese not understand when you talk to them about sudoku (数独）?
It Japan it is more commonly known as ナンバーゲーム (nambaa geimu- number game)
Why do I get odd looks when I say “sayonara”?
Two possible reasons. One is that it is fairly heavy expression with an effect like “so long” in English. Another is that if you do want to sound formal you also need to lengthen the second vowel sound (さようならー sayoonara).
Why are satsumas named after an area in Southern Japan in English?
Why does the English word rickshaw come from Japanese?
It was invented in Japan (rickshaw is a corruption of the Japanese word 人力車 (じんりきしゃ jinrikisha), meaning “human powered car”)