バイク ≠ bike

バイク    =  bike1

bike        = bike2

This one confuses a lot of people, and it frustrates the hell out of me when translators are unable to take a step back and realize that the villain/whoever is not pulling up on his/her ママチャリ and giving the bell a ring. It’s tempting to translate バイク the way it sounds, but it is not in fact bike or bicycle – it’s motorcycle. A quick Google Images search confirms that there are no hits for anything even slightly resembling a 自転車 in the top hits. Remember, when in doubt, plugging a term into Google Images is a useful way to see what is associated with the term.

4 thoughts on “バイク ≠ bike

  1. Seems like many Japanese people mix these up too when I talk to them, maybe they are used to foreigners using バイク to mean bicycle. Something like 先週 長野に バイクで 行った。 Often has my friends saying, “Whaaa?!? You rode your mountain bike to Nagano?!”

  2. I’m glad you commented here – good to have an inside opinion. That makes me wonder if バイク is an in-group word for motorcycle, known mostly by people who ride them.

  3. Yea, I’ve come across this before. Sometimes you find that it depends on what type of person you’re talking to as to what バイク actually means. My Japanese teacher, for instance, would state categorically that this referred to ‘motorbike’, but I know a couple of my Japanese mates out in Japan at the moment would use this to mean either a manual- or a motor-bike. Confusing, right!

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