Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 21:8 August 2021
ISSN 1930-2940

         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         G. Baskaran, Ph.D.
         T. Deivasigamani, Ph.D.
         Pammi Pavan Kumar, Ph.D.
         Soibam Rebika Devi, M.Sc., Ph.D.

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Knowledge of English Loanwords –
An Advantage to L1 Speakers of Telugu in JFL Learning

Mahender K. Gakkula, M.A. (Ph.D. Research Scholar)
Ajay R. Tengse, Ph.D. (Research Supervisor)


Recently, learning Japanese as a foreign language has been gaining high importance in countries like India. The Japanese language education in India was limited to only few foreign language departments across India. However, learners of Japanese have grown many fold and currently we have many students showing a strong interest towards learning Japanese as a foreign language (JFL) along with the interest to learn its culture. Among the challenges posed by these learners in their foreign language learning journey, mastering the pronunciation is a primary and important goal. Familiarizing with the written system is also an important aspect to be able to reach a better fluency. This paper argues and proposes that L1 speakers of Telugu language have an advantage in rapidly gaining the pronunciation of Japanese language because of the linguistic similarities of syllabification between both the languages. In order to do so, this paper takes into account few English loanwords in both the languages to compare the similarities in syllabification. The similarities are analyzed, and implications are discussed. L1 speakers of Telugu with exposure to English can strategically bridge their existing knowledge to quickly familiarize with Japanese vocabulary due to a large number of English loanwords used in Japanese. In this respect, English loanwords in Japanese serve as a bridge towards fostering JFL language proficiency.

Keywords: English loan words, usefulness to learn languages, phonology, syllabification, loanwords, katakana English, pedagogical application.


India and Japan have been continuously strengthening the bilateral relationship on various fronts. Historically, both these countries share many common philosophical and religious values. In the modern times, both these countries became strategic partners. As a part of this expanding relationship, Indian students have been finding great interest in Japanese language. One of the notable reasons is also employment as Japan has a very low rate of unemployment and by speaking Japanese language, chances of finding employment in Japan and also in Japanese based companies in India are very high. Various industrial parks dedicated to Japanese manufacturing companies have been established with the support of both the nations’ higher leadership and a continuing positive business and trade relationship due to the initiatives by the previous Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Shinzo Abe. As a result, learners of the Japanese language in India have been increasing by many folds since the past decade partly also due to easing of immigration norms for foreigners to live and work in Japan. Jobs in various fields like automobile, IT, communications, media, finance, medical, manufacturing, distribution, services, etc., have opened for foreigners and we can safely predict that this type of immigration will continue in near future. This is further supported by the fact that Japan’s population has been declining and the burden of paying taxes is heavy on young working population while the government’s capacity of taking care of a high number of aged population is being barely managed.

Japanese language is the 9th most popularly spoken language in the world with over 127 million people who speak the language. On the other hand, Telugu, one of the most popularly spoken South-Indian languages is 15th most popularly spoken language in the world with over 75 million speakers (Gordon, 2005). Japanese language being the only language that is in official use in Japan requires foreigners to be proficient with it, to be able to work in Japan. The same is the case for Japanese people alike, who are required to have a business level English proficiency to be eligible for employment with foreign multinational companies operating in Japan and also companies abroad which require English language proficiency (Gakkula & Tengse, 2021). Although it is relatively new to see Japanese people applying for jobs with foreign multinational companies, it is not rare. There are many opportunities for Japanese people to work in the fields of research and advanced research. Fields like science, engineering and information technology also employ Japanese people across the world.

Various English loanwords entered Indian languages during the British rule in India and have now become a natural part of most of the Indian languages. To begin with, these loanwords are commonly used for day-to-day life purposes. Also, in various fields as listed above, the English loanwords are indispensable. For native speakers of Telugu, English loanwords are also important partly in standardizing Telugu in its official dialect as various other dialects exist within Telugu speaking population. Same is the case with Japanese, as English loanwords have been playing a role in standardizing the official dialect called ‘hyoujungo’. Loanword assimilation involves phonological modifications that make it easier for a native Japanese or a native Telugu speaker to pronounce these borrowed words without any difficulty, by adapting the loanwords into the phonetic system of Japanese or Telugu. Whether the words function exactly as they do in English is a different question. This paper argues that understanding the similarities and differences of English loanwords has a significant pedagogical implication that could primarily help learners identify the target language syllables helping them to directly apply their previous knowledge of pronunciation. Further, similar types of studies in this area contribute to areas like development of effective learning materials and methods of teaching Japanese as a second language. Finally, an understanding of syllabification and vocabulary exercises aimed to develop the morphological awareness of English loanwords could also aid better learning of English language among native Japanese speakers. The value of research in this area is high, also due to the fact that L1 speakers of Telugu have been finding Japan as one of their dream destinations of employment especially given the fact that Telugu speaking states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana produce a huge number of engineering graduates every year and not so many jobs are available domestically in India.


Mahender Kumar Gakkula, M.A. (CIEFL/EFLU), Ph.D. Research Scholar
Former Teacher of English, Ehime University, Japan
Swami Ramanand Teerth Marathwada University, Nanded
Phone: (+91) 7981 358 344

Dr Ajay Tengse
Dr. Ajay R. Tengse
Head, Professor of English
P.G. Department, Yeswanth College, Nanded ; Phone: 9673259059

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