Departmental Bulletin Paper Enhancing Intelligibility in ELF by Focusing on theOrigin of Katakana Loanwords

Sakellarios, Marc. D.  ,  Price, Gregory

3pp.1 - 10 , 2017-04-01
This paper has sought to demonstrate negative language transfer resulting fromnon-English loanwords in the Japanese language. Prior to conducting ourexperiment, we theorized that some L1 interference may result from the use ofkatakana for these borrowed words, which potentially leads to some students notknowing which loanwords are English, and which are of non-English origin. Totest this theory, a double-blind randomized experiment was conducted among 83university students at Nihon University’s School of Pharmacy. Subjects were given avocabulary test containing five questions; one with descriptions of the English wordsonly, and the other with descriptions and the katakana counterparts. Our aim was totest whether students given the katakana would assume it to be English. Compared tothe control group (mean score=1.551 out of 5), the group with access to the katakanacounterparts scored significantly lower (mean score=0.738). An unpaired t-test ofthe results was conducted, and the result showed a significant difference betweenthe two groups (p = 0.0018). A follow up survey was conducted of 144 studentsfrom Tokyo University of Science and Nihon University’s School of Pharmacy tosee if students could identify the origin of common non-English loanwords. Of theloanwords tested, 80.56% of students incorrectly identified one or more of the wordsto be from an English-speaking country. This supported the hypothesis that studentsmay not be able to discern the origin of Japanese loanwords.

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