The Chinese word for noodles is ''lamen'', or la-mien, and the Japanese also call it ''lamen'', using their hiragana/katana syllaby. So the word is spoken with the L sound in both China and Japan (Taiwan, too), not the R sound. However, modern English spells it and speaks it as "ramen" and I wonder: was this an editing/spelling mistake made by Japanese or English editors in the 1950s? Ask any Japanese person in Japan and they will tell you it's really "lamen." Why did English-speaking countries turn it into "ramen" and is there any way to turn it back to its correct spelling and pronunciation: lamen?
closed as not constructive by waiwai933♦ Jun 24 '12 at 6:17
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According to the Oxford English Dictionary, English gets ramen from Japanese--not Chinese. They note:
There is no character for L in Japanese, so both L and R sounds are written with the same r-based characters. In pronunciation, the sound is somewhere in between an English version of those two sounds. However, given that the word is written ramen in Japanese, I would guess that either a literal transliteration was made in which the word was copied over as "ramen", or perhaps someone heard it and wrote it down that way.
Either way, it is not "incorrect" to spell ramen as such in English. Words go through a process of change as they are borrowed from one language to another, and many other words have changed over time. There are many other borrowed words which have gone through their own changes. The process of adopting a foreign word means it takes on a new life--it doesn't necessarily stay the same as its originating language.
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