Sunday Soundcheck 37


The second sound in the N column is ni, pronounced a little like ‘knee’, but the sound should be shorter like Monty Python’s knights who say ni (perhaps they were Japanese.) We represent this sound in hiragana as に and katakana as ニ. I’m in a good mood, so let’s throw in a few extras today.

Nisu (ニス) is actually short for wanisu (ワニス) which is the Japanese word for varnish. My dictionary says it actually comes from the Dutch word vernis. A number of words in Japanese come straight from Dutch or Portuguese because of the influence of traders.

Nyuansu (ニュアンス) is the Japanese word for nuance. My dictionary says it comes directly from the French word nuance, but we’re not talking about much difference between the pronunciation of these three. This word comes up almost everyday in conversation, whether discussing English meanings or Japanese.

Nyuufeesu (ニューフェース), from the words ‘new face’, is easy enough to grasp, just meaning ‘a newcomer’ as in, “Who’s the new face?” We use this one for transfer students, new members of a society, new workers at my favorite restaurant, …

How about some native Japanese words?

Nisankatanso (にさんかたんそ・二酸化炭素) is Carbon Dioxide – a daily topic of conversation because 99.99% of Japanese people are sold on the idea of global warming… er… global climate change.

Nijikai (にじかい・二次会) is ‘the party after the party’, which some people call the ‘after party’ in English. I’m sure I’ve written about this before but, after big parties the closer circle often heads to another party; and, yes, there is also the sanjikai (三次会) or ‘party after the party after the party’.

Nijuuchuusha (にじゅうちゅうしゃ・二重駐車) is ‘double park’. Because things are often shoehorned in and some properties are very long and skinny, it is not uncommon to have a parking lot or parking garage designed to park cars two deep. Sometimes this requires two family members to go out and juggle cars, but it saves a lot of space.


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