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Favorite Words From Foreign Languages

Goto next slide#1: Karaoke

Many English words come from other languages, but this list highlights some of our favorites from non-Romance languages – i.e. they don't trace back to Latin – that sound almost the same in the original.

Language of Origin:

Japanese

About the Word:

Karaoke, the beloved/hated entertainment that involves non-professional singers performing without live bands, has a poetic-sounding origin: "empty orchestra."

It comes from the Japanese kara ("empty") + ōke, short for ōkesutora ("orchestra").

That same kara also appears in karate: "empty" + te ("hand").

Karaoke became popular in Japan among businessmen in the late 1970s, and gained widespread popularity in the U.S. in the late 1980s.

Photo: Dan Lurie, Cognitive Creative

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