Home Forums The Japanese Language English Transliteration or Japanese Word?

This topic contains 3 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Aikibujin 10 years, 5 months ago.

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    While doing the exercise from season 2 to look up vocabulary and describe people, I encountered multiple words for the word I was trying to translate. One of the translations is often a word translated from English. On jisho.org, sometimes results (1 native japanese word and 1 english transliterated word) are both “common words,” sometimes only one is, and sometimes neither is, so it is difficult to know which word to use.
    Example: intern
    インターン intaan
    拘禁 こうきん koukin
    (both labeled common)

    Is there a rule for determining which translation is better? Does it depend on the word or context?
    (Which is better for “intern?”)

    I also have a somewhat related situation: my father is a flight attendant, but when I looked up “flight attendant” on jisho.org, the only “common” result was for stewardess (スチュワーデス), which obviously wouldn’t be appropriate for my father. It seems フライトアテンダント would be the correct translation in this case, but would it be uncommon to refer to someone working in the position of a flight attendant this way?


    Sometimes it’s better to look up a word in a different dictionary if the meaning in the first could be ambiguous (like in this case where the English given is just a single word). Looking up example sentences is also good; not all words have example sentences but the more common ones do and it can give you a good sense of the word’s intended usage/meaning.

    Even without knowing exactly which meaning of “intern” you meant, I’m pretty sure it’s not 拘禁 you’re looking for :P



    You might be after 弟子 = apprentice – America uses “intern” in some fairly different contexts to the rest of the world.

    That said, there are cases where the Japanese word and the English word both get used, but in different situations. For example, ごはん refers to rice as part of a Japanese-style meal, whereas ライス is used when it’s part of a western-style meal (for example, カレーライス). くろ refers to most black thinks, while ブラック means black coffee. まど refers to your usual window, whereas ウィンドー refers to decorated shop windows. うんてん is the act of driving, while ドライブ is “going for a drive”.

    Et cetera. =)



    From what I’ve seen it completely depends on context, as Joel has described. You are likely better off simply learning both versions any time they pop up.

    Then if you are speaking to someone in Japanese and you use one, they may look confused and you can change to the other term. Or they may simply ask if you meant the other one, depending on how well you know them.

    Once you start reading things in Japanese on a regular basis you will become familiar with which one to use through experience.

    Alternatively you could make a blog on lang-8 to distinguish between the readings when you are unsure. Are you familiar with the site?

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