Tag Archives: Portuguese language

Japanese/Portuguese

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I always loved languages and history, so I knew that the Portuguese had been in Japan but I didn’t know that they had been the first Europeans to ever reach Japan (in the 16th century) and how the Portuguese language influenced the Japanese language.

So when I first started learning Japanese this was an aspect of much interest to me,  not only the language part but also the history in common between the two countries.

It’s interesting because this was the first time that, in their travels, the Portuguese encountered such a civilization and they were mesmerized by it . Francisco Xavier wrote in his letters that he never had encountered people like the Japanese before.

I made a post about the language influences for the NihongoUp Blog here with the cooperation of the NihongoUp team and I’ve been wanting to talk about this here too ^_^;;

There are still many words of Portuguese origin in  today’s Japanese, even though the majority disappeared (especially religious related terms) when the Portuguese left.

Here are some examples:

金米糖Kompeito/Konpeito

Pt: Confeito

パンPan

Pt: Pão, En: Bread

ボタンBotan

Pt: Botão, En: Button

コップKoppu

Pt: Copo, En: Drinking glass

骨牌Karuta

Pt: Carta, En: Playing cards

天麩羅 Tempura

Pt: Tempero, En: Spice/Seasoning

カステラ Kasutera

Pt: (bolo de) Castela, En: Sponge cake

タバコ / 煙草 Tabako

Pt: Tabaco, En: Tabaco/Cigarretes

合羽 Kappa

Pt: Capa, En: Cape/Raincoat

Some Japanese words were also assimilated by the Portuguese language like byoubu 屏風 and katana 刀 which are loan words for biombo (folding screen) and catana (sword, long knife) .

I guess I’ll leave the historical aspects and curiosities for a separate post ^_^