Why do the Japanese say Bye bye?

I know some gaijin (foreigners) who find this really annoying, an irritation that gets even worse when they meet a Japanese person who doesn’t even know that it comes from English. “Why can’t they just use a Japanese word?” they ask, of course already knowing the word sayonara. Well, sayonara for one won’t cut it, as it is more like “Farewell” or “Take care” than it is to a simple “Bye bye”.

 There’s “domo”, but it also means “Hi” and “Thanks”, and anyway doesn’t seem to match every situation. Ditto for ja ne. The one situation they especially don’t match is babytalk, being that waving is one of the first things a baby picks up but none of those expressions quite work to prompt that waving from them. Perhaps because of this, almost every country I have lived in have also used “Bye bye”.

Alternatively, I wonder if in some countries it could have come through telephoning, in the way that Hello came in French and some other languages.

Another question occurs to me writing that- why does Domo have some many meanings?



  1. October 4, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Domo is like OK, dependent on inflection and circumstance OK can have multiple meanings. Not unusual for another language to have a comparable word in usage.

  2. alexcase said,

    October 4, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Maybe I didn’t phrase that well. It is the combination of common and easily confused meanings of thanks, hi and bye that I have never seen in another language. Did the Japanese run out words??

  3. nebarik said,

    October 6, 2010 at 1:21 pm


    considering they use so much english… i think they did run out :P

    in all serious though, just because some words sound the same, hell even come from the same base meaning. doesnt mean they get used the same. just look at “chance/chansu” or “lucky/rakki”. this is just a fact of other languages so im not really sure why people get so annoyed at useage.

    i use it to my advantage. for example “tsumari” (=in other words, in summary) kind of sounds like “summary” to me. so its a easy way to translate it in my mind when i hear it.

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