How do you say ‘casual’ in Japanese? You just did!

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Use the rikaichan popup dictionary on the text I’ve transcribed just below the photos if you need help reading the sign.

Mr. Young Men wants you to know that they’re a casual okonomiyaki place,  in case that’s not already apparent from looking at the storefront. It’s in the Shinkyogoku  shopping arcade just north of Shijo Dori in Kyoto.

The sign made me realize just how Japanese the word ‘casual’ has become.  A friend sometimes uses it with me when we’re speaking Japanese,  as in when he asks if I’m free for dinner and adds that it’s casual. That’s when I know we’ll be going to our favorite cheap standing bar  or something like that.

He doesn’t speak much English at all but I’d  thought that maybe he’d somehow picked that word up and enjoys breaking it out when he talks with me.  When I saw this sign, I understood that it’s  commonly used these days among Japanese, and he isn’t using it with  me just because I’m a native English speaker.

Of course you need to put a bit of a different spin on the pronunciation, but loan words like this are a great way to beef up vocabulary.  I knew that ‘formal’ had entered the Japanese language, so this usage doesn’t really surprise me.  I use カジュアル in conversation once in a while and people seem to understand it, but I suppose I felt like somehow it was cheating, that there’s a more accepted Japanese term in wider use that I should know.

I wrote a post recently that included ‘creative’ as a なadjective in Japanese,  and I’ve been wondering lately about other words, adjectives especially, that are borrowed from English that I could be adding to my Japanese language arsenal, knowing that this list is ever expanding.

Speaking of adjectives, a great way to get some exposure to lots of natural, descriptive language in manageable chunks is to check out restaurant review sites in Japanese.  Rikaichan comes in very handy here.  To get a taste of this kind of authentic content, check out a review of Mr. Young Men on this very popular restaurant review site,  and use rikaichan if you need help with it.  Sites like this that feature lots of candid, colorful, descriptive comments from site users are a great way to spice up your studies!

Have you discovered any loan words  lately that have added to your Japanese fluency?

Originally posted 2012-08-01 09:00:02.

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