Thursday, September 3, 2009

The mystery of “Shoecream” solved


When I first heard the term “shoecream” in Japan I was more than a little shocked. See, we were walking from lunch at a restaurant close to where I work and a Japanese friend asked me if I would like some “shoecream” as dessert. These turned out to be little cream filled puffs and I figured out that the word was simply a phonetic construction. It was not until about two years after that, or more precisely, last weekend, that I saw a box of “shoecreams” at the supermarket and realized what the original phrase is - “chou a la crème”. It’s a French phrase which, of course, means “creampuff”. It is very easy to assume that a foreign word in Japanese, rendered phonetically, comes from English as most actually do but in this particular case that assumption turned out to be worse than wrong. Still, it was pretty funny while it lasted ;)

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