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Month: September 2019

What is the Japanese word for sushi?

This question, though at first absurd, can be a great jumping off point for a discussion about language. When does a word become a part of a language? And what is a language anyway? If you went up to someone who didn’t speak Hungarian and said something in Hungarian they wouldn’t understand you. So we can say that your language and Hungarian are different enough that they can be grouped separately. But if you just said the word “sushi” to an English speaker, while not a sentence, it would put the idea of sushi in their mind. Does this make sushi an English word? Could we group English and Japanese together because they share a word for something?

Of course, no one is suggesting English and Japanese are the same language. Both languages are clearly very different. You are probably picturing English and Japanese in your mind and that picture probably has writing on it. Writing though is just a tool and outside of the page and in the real world things get a bit more messy.

You can read the follow article in our magazine Silly Linguistics and get access to all previous issues at no extra charge