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Questions concerning 外来語 and pronunciation.

Tetchan

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Howdy JREF comrades,
this is my first question topic here so if I'm breaking any guideline please advise me!

I've been living in Japan for 5 months now. Even though I live in a small town, people have some knowledge on english language. Many times when I can't think of the word in japanese I just use it in english or ask for the translation of that word.

The main obstacle on that kind of communication is that I don't know how I should be pronunciating the words. Gairaigo words are usually spoken with "engrish" pronunciation. Should I always try to use the "engrish" or just speak it normally? Moreover I''m also afraid of offending someone when I proceed with "engrish" since it could be misinterpreted as "you won't understand it if I pronunciate it correctly".

If the dialogue would proceed in english, of course I'd speak it normally but that's not the case most of the times.
 

nice gaijin

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If you're speaking in Japanese, try to use the Japanese pronunciation for gairaigo. If you aren't sure if the term is actually gairaigo, first try to explain the word or concept using the vocabulary you have. Learning how to learn/elicit new vocabulary in Japanese will greatly improve your Japanese; that practice alone will help you far more than looking up a word could.
 

Mike Cash

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Moreover I''m also afraid of offending someone when I proceed with "engrish" since it could be misinterpreted as "you won't understand it if I pronunciate it correctly".
Your concern is perfectly understandable, but nothing to worry about. Keep in mind that by definition the gairaigo words have become Japanese words and are pronounced in keeping with all other Japanese words. Gairaigo and Engrish are not the same thing. If you're speaking Japanese and pronounce the gairaigo bits with an English pronunciation it would sound odd. When Japanese speakers pronounce gairaigo words, they're not butchering the pronunciation of English words...they are correctly pronouncing Japanese words.

One major thing you need to be aware of, if you don't already know, is that often the words have a different meaning or nuance in Japanese usage than they do in English. You and the person you are talking to might be using the same word, each thinking you're understanding each other, when you're actually talking right past each other. Gairaigo is a "false friend" and can be a big source of miscommunication. It is handy when you are new and you need every advantage you can get to communicate with people, but just always keep in mind that when the conversation seems to have derailed somewhere along the way one of the first culprits you should suspect is the two of you having different meanings for the gairaigo.
 
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Your concern is perfectly understandable, but nothing to worry about. Keep in mind that by definition the gairaigo words have become Japanese words and are pronounced in keeping with all other Japanese words. Gairaigo and Engrish are not the same thing. If you're speaking Japanese and pronounce the gairaigo bits with an English pronunciation it would sound odd. When Japanese speakers pronounce gairaigo words, they're not butchering the pronunciation of English words...they are correctly pronouncing Japanese words.
I think that's not quite what the OP was asking. I think they were saying "I don't know the word for light bulb, should I try 'raito burubu'?" As in, they don't know if the word is gairaigo or not, they are just saying the English word in the hopes someone will understand.

I don't believe anyone would be offended by this. You are not doing it in a patronising way, just having a guess at the word using typical patterns of conversion between the two languages. Like when I don't know the word for something in Italian that ends with -tion in English I just change it to -zione and hope for the best.

A Japanese person might actually be more likely to understand a non-gairaigo word if you try katakana pronunciation in my experience. But as Mike says be aware that if it IS gairaigo it might not mean the exact same thing you intended. So use this method with caution. In any language.

(My father told me recently of a French oral exam where several students were given the discussion subject of the death penalty, or "La peine de mort". Apparently a good 50% of them went in and started giving a very philosophical 5 minute speech on the pain of dying.)
 
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Mike Cash

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Oh, if that is the case then I would still suggest adjusting the pronunciation to Japanese and treating it as an ad hoc gairaigo. It may very well turn out to have been one already anyway. And if it wasn't.....I'm one of those people who find it pretentious, annoying, or both when people speaking language X suddenly shift to a very different pronunciation/accent when a word from language Y appears, then goes immediately back to language X pronunciation.
 

Tetchan

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Thanks everyone for the answers.
Do you mean words like pronouncing? ;) Common mistake.
Yes. English is not my mother language lmao. Thanks.

Oh, if that is the case then I would still suggest adjusting the pronunciation to Japanese and treating it as an ad hoc gairaigo. It may very well turn out to have been one already anyway. And if it wasn't.....I'm one of those people who find it pretentious, annoying, or both when people speaking language X suddenly shift to a very different pronunciation/accent when a word from language Y appears, then goes immediately back to language X pronunciation.
I see, so if I were to enter a shop and wanted to ask: "can I film?" and don't know how to say "film" should I say:
"FIRUMUsuru dekimasuka?" instead of "Film suru dekimasuka?".

I also don't like that sudden shift but trying to speak "engrish" can be hard when you are not used to it.

@TOPIC
I'll try to proceed with engrish from now as it seems the best option.
Even though it might be awkward for me to say stuff like "ガブリエル" (my name).
 

Toritoribe

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"FIRUMUsuru dekimasuka?" doesn't make sense at all even if you pronounce "film" as a loan word "FIRUMU / FUIRUMU". This is a good example of the phenomenon Mike-san pointed out;
One major thing you need to be aware of, if you don't already know, is that often the words have a different meaning or nuance in Japanese usage than they do in English.
Unlike in English, "FIRUMU / FUIRUMU" is never used as a verb "to shoot (a film)" in Japanese, so you need to say 撮影してもいいですか "Satsuei shite mo ii desu ka?" for that meaning. Using another loan word "MUUBII(= movie)", "MUUBII ii desu ka?" could be barely acceptable, but this can be misinterpreted as "May I ask you to watch my movie?".
 

Mike Cash

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You still misunderstand what "Engrish" means.

Engrish refers to the mistaken English that Japanese people create when they are saying something in English. It does not refer to using words borrowed from English when they are saying something in Japanese.

"Engrish" and "gairaigo" are not two different names for the same thing.
 

Toritoribe

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I do understand what Mike-san misunderstood initially and what the OP wanted to ask. FIRUMU accidentally exists as a loan word in the OP's example, so I added an explanation about those cases.
As for "Engrish" pronunciations, the one you are talking to might not be able to understand an uncommon English word whether it's pronounced in that way or not, for instance "obstacle" or "OBUSUTAKURU", and for a relatively common word such like "to film", "loan word problem" might occur.
 

mdchachi

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Unlike in English, "FIRUMU / FUIRUMU" is never used as a verb "to shoot (a film)" in Japanese, so you need to say 撮影してもいいですか "Satsuei shite mo ii desu ka?" for that meaning. Using another loan word "MUUBII(= movie)", "MUUBII ii desu ka?" could be barely acceptable, but this can be misinterpreted as "May I ask you to watch my movie?".
I think if you say VIDEO SHITE II DESU KA? you would be understood. Everybody knows what a video is and if you are saying "May I (do) video?" with your phone/camera in hand I think they'll get it.

Back to the original point, you should try to use Japanese pronunciation even if it's for words that aren't normally adopted into Japanese. Every Japanese person you will meet will have had several years of English instruction and probably have a decent English vocabulary but most of them will not understand native pronunciation. They are more likely to understand katakanized pronunciation and it's not offensive if you try to communicate in this way. But try to do it correctly. FILM (FUIRUMU) is a good example of a word that's hard to pronounce correctly in Japanese. Fortunately it's a word that is not really needed much any more.
 
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