Pattern and パターン

Did You Know…

The Japanese word “pataan” (katakana: パターン) is 100% based on the English word pattern?

Not all Japanese people (日本人nihonjin) know this. After all, they know the word as part of their language, a loan word, one of many. If that particular person hasn’t actually encountered the English word pattern in his or her studies, that person has no way to know that the two words are directly related.

I encountered this recently when helping a Japanese girl with her English over Skype. (This was for free, or 無料. (muryou, lit. no fee)) She didn’t actually know that the two were related… yet. That’s why it can really help to speak (話すhanasu) with a native speaker.

Anyway, one way this is used is in the Japanese expression ワンパターン (“one pattern“). This relates to something that is cliche. No, seriously, it does; something cliche is something that follows a single pattern and therefore unfolds in a predictable manner.


And for English natives, did you understand that phrase? If not, and you’re interested, read below.


J Sensei

About J Sensei

Blogger, writer, linguist, former Japanese> English translator, rusty in French, experienced in Japanese, fluent English native. Writing for and various blogs. Skype: jeremiah.bourque (messages always welcome). E-mail: [email protected]
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