Katakana examples: English loanwords

Examples of English words taken into Japanese (spelling/pronunciation)


I took a brief trip to Japan in April 2018 and learned to read hiragana and katakana. Once I knew some of the rules of the Japanese language it was quite easy to trace back some words written in katakana to their English origin.

In particular:

  • Apart from n, no consonant can stand alone, so often u or o is added in between consonants or at the end ("group" becomes "guruppo")
  • There is no l in Japanese, so those are turned into r's (en. "hotel" is jp. "hoteru")
  • Although there exist symbols for the v sound it is more usually transliterated as b, so a word like "event" is taken over as "ibento"
  • If an r is not pronounced in non-rhotic English variants (like British English) it is often left out in Japanese—a word like en. "corner" becomes jp. "kōnā"
  • Lone-standing n in Japanese () is pronounced as "ng" or "m" depending on context


The following table contains ONLY examples I have actually seen on signs in Japan, besides a handful which were found in magazines.

English Japanese Romaji
Bar バー
Bus バス basu
Camera カメラ kamera
Center センター sentā
Cleaning クリーニング kurīningu
Club クラブ kurabu
Coin locker コインロッカー koinrokkā
Collaboration コラボレーション koraborēshon
Collection コレクション korekushon
Contrast コントラスト kontorasuto
Corner コーナー kōnā
Counter カウンター kauntā
Destination デスティネーション desutinēshon
Dining ダイニング dainingu
Dinner buffet ディナーブッフェ dinābaffe
Elevator エレベーター erebātā
Escalator エスカレーター esukarētā
Event イベント ibento
Express エクスプレス ekusupuresu
Fan ファン fan
French フレンチ furenchi
Gallery ギャラリー gyararī
Garden ガーデン gāden
Gift selection ギフトセレクション gifutoserekushon
Group グルッポ guruppo
Guide ガイド gaido
Hotel ホテル hoteru
Image イメージ imeji
Italian イタリアン itarian
Keyboard キーボード kībōdo
Lemon レモン remon
Lounge ラウンジ raunji
Machine マシーン mashin
Menu メニュー menyū
Park パーク pāku
Parking パーキング pākingu
Point ポイント pointo
Private プライベート puraibēto
Recycling リサイクリング risaikuringu
Restaurant レストラン resutoran
Salmon サーモン sāmon
Sandwich サンドウィッチ sandowitchi
Shop ショップ shoppu
Spot スポット supotto
Stretcher ストレッチャー sutoretchā
Supermarket スーパーマーケット sūpāmāketto
Timing タイミング taimingu
Tobacco トバク tobaku
Toilet トイレ toire
Tulip チュリップ chūrippu
Whiskey ウイスキー uisukī

What is your favorite one? Let me know here.
Mine is "kurīningu" for cleaning because it's so different but its meaning can still be guessed. Otherwise I find "ショップ" ("shoppu") interesting due to the writing: it has two small katakana symbols following each other (ショ = shi + yo to make "sho", followed by a small "tsu" ッ to double the following consonant).