Glossary

Frequently used terms and Japanese words at Naruhodo Japan.

amerika: the United States of America. (kanji use is outdated) 亜米利加 [アメリカ]

beikoku: the old (or one could say formal) way to refer to the United States of America. 米国 [べいこく]

bunka: culture. 文化 [ぶんか]

eigo: English language. 英語 [えいご]

furigana: kana over kanji which shows how to read the kanji, also known as yomigana. 振り仮名 [ふりがな]

gaikoku: foreign country (non-Japanese country). 外国 [がいこく]

gaikokugo: foreign language (non-Japanese language). 外国語 [がいこくご]

gaikokujin, gaijin: foreigner (non-Japanese person). 外国人 [がいこくじん], 外人 [がいじん]

go-: put this in front of various words to speak in a more respectful manner, see also o-. ご
example words that usually have o- in front: gohan (rice, meal) ご飯 [ごはん], goran (to look, to do) ご覧 [ご覧], gozaimasu (difficult to translate, formal ending of sentences) ございます, gozonji (to know) ご存知 [ごぞんじ]

haafu (half): half-Japanese person. ハーフ

hiragana: one form of the Japanese syllabic alphabet, primarily used for writing native words. (kanji is rarely used to write “hiragana” in Japanese, usually written in hiragana itself) 平仮名 [ひらがな]

hougen – dialect. 方言 [ほうげん]

hyoujungo – standard Japanese. 標準語 [ひょうじゅんご]

jikka: the home of one’s parents. 実家 [じっか]

kaa-chan: loving nickname for one’s mother, i.e. “momma”. 母ちゃん [かあちゃん]

kanji: characters of Chinese origin used in writing Japanese. 漢字 [かんじ]

kankei: related to, connected to. 関係 [かんけい]

kanten: point of view. 観点 [かんてん]

katakana: one form of the Japanese syllabic alphabet, primarily used for writing sounds, foreign words, and sometimes local dialects. (kanji is rarely used to write “katakana” in Japanese, usually written in katakana itself) 片仮名 [カタカナ]

kocchi: here; Japanese living abroad may refer to the country they are living in as “here”. こっち

kotoba: word(s), language. 言葉 [ことば]

naruhodo: I see. なるほど
example: When you learn something and in the moment when you “get it”, you may say, “Naruhodo!”

nihon, nippon: Japan. 日本 [にほん、にっぽん]

nihongo: Japanese language. 日本語 [にほんご]

nihonjin: Japanese people. 日本人 [にほんじん]

nikkei: Japanese living abroad, Japanese diaspora. 日系 [にっけい]

o-: put this in front of various words to speak in a more respectful manner, see also go-. お
example words that usually have o- in front: ocha (tea) お茶 [おちゃ], ohisashiburi (long time no see) お久しぶり [おひさしぶり], okane (money) お金 [おかね], onamae (name, when asking someone their name, not saying your own) お名前 [おなまえ], oyasumi (vacation, holiday) お休み [おやすみ]

okaasan: mother. お母さん [おかあさん]

otousan: father. お父さん [おとうさん]

romaji: literally “Roman letters”, it is how to write Japanese using the Latin alphabet (AKA Roman alphabet). ローマ字 [ローマじ]

rosu: Los Angeles, California, USA. ロス

satogaeri: trip where one returns home, i.e. a Japanese person who moved away from their hometown goes back to visit. 里帰り [さとがえり]

-sama: honorific, very respectful title added to the end of someone’s name, i.e., Miss, Mr., Mrs., Ms. 様 [さま]

-san: honorific, title of respect added to the end of someone’s name, i.e., Miss, Mr., Mrs., Ms. さん

-sei: what generation a Japanese person is living abroad. 世 [せい]

issei: first generation. 一世 [いっせい]

nisei: second generation. 二世 [にせい]

sansei: third generation. 三世 [さんせい]

yonsei: fourth generation. 四世 [よんせい]

gosei: fifth generation. 五世 [ごせい]

seito: student. 生徒 [せいと]

sensei: teacher. 先生 [せんせい]

yomigana: kana over kanji which shows how to read the kanji, also known as furigana. 読みがな [よみがな]