"べんとう"

Translation:Bento

June 6, 2017

130 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/TylerSmith619678

Bento has become one of those japanese words that most people know; like sushi for instance.

June 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/FonzieSquirrel

My parents, grandparents and quite some of my friends have no idea what a bento is, although they all know sushi.

June 18, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/SiriusElliot

They meant a lot of people already familiar with other japanese words like neko, manga, sushi, etc

June 20, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/HoroTanuki

Maybe in the US, in Europe most people who don't watch anime have no idea what a "bento" is.

November 10, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/IsolaCiao

I met a woman in Japan who was the wife of a mayor from either France or Belgium (I forget which, but anyways she only spoke French) and was here on business. She wanted to buy a "bento box" like the one she ate from in Japanese restaurants in her home country. I know that "bento boxes" are a common menu item at Japanese restaurants in the States as well. It's not a common English word, but it is an English word.

March 13, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/nareshkharat

Yes, i googled it and it showed me the meals images. Thanks alot

May 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/NRose8

Those who eat at Japanese restaurants are likely familiar with the word. People who don't (like my parents) would have no idea. Similarly, see the recent NY Times article about the "hip new drink" boba tea

March 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/AntonioSou45770

What is Bento ?

April 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Uli74530

Meal in a box with different varieties of food in each compartment. Hope this helps.

April 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
  • 1947

Instead of asking the same question several times in a row, you can either read the existing comments on this page that explain it, or you can Google it.

April 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/cs4nt14g0

Well i came to the comments looking for an explanation also but most of it is more so discussion. Scrolled for quite a bit before i saw this comment, so i guess I'll just have to Google it...

April 25, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/IsolaCiao

When people ask the same question over and over, the good answers get buried and impossible to find. Links that have been posted in this thread:

Oxford Dictionaries definition of bento

A lacquered or decorated wooden Japanese lunch box.

1.1 A Japanese-style packed lunch, consisting of such items as rice, vegetables, and sashimi.

Dictionary.com definition of bento:

a meal, usually served in a lacquered or elaborately decorated box that is divided into sections for holding individual portions of food.

Wikipedia article about bento:

Bento (弁当 bentō)[1] is a single-portion take-out or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento holds rice or noodles, fish or meat, with pickled and cooked vegetables, in a box.[2] Containers range from mass-produced disposables to hand-crafted lacquerware. Bento are readily available in many places throughout Japan, including convenience stores, bento shops (弁当屋 bentō-ya), railway stations, and department stores. However, Japanese homemakers often spend time and energy on a carefully prepared lunch box for their spouse, child, or themselves.

Bento & Co pictures of bento boxes

Article from Coastal Connecticut entitled "Bento Box as Cultural Lunchbox"

I find google image search to always be helpful when trying to understand something I've never seen or heard of before.

April 26, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/royalt213

I don't like that they are starting off with words that don't have an English equivalent. I had no idea what "bento" was before reading the comments.

June 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/CumberHyarion

It's not so much a word with no English equivalent as a word who's English equivalent is extremely similar, because the English word's origin is the Japanese word.

It's basically like "burrito", "goulash", or indeed "sushi"; originally foreign words that now basically exist as English words describing the foreign dishes.

Where I live there's a ton of Japanese restaurants, and most (probably not all) people would know the word "bento" as a (Japanese) way of serving a meal in a box with many small compartments of different foods. If you don't already know it it's a bit of a pain to get it as an exercise in Duolingo, but it's a pretty good choice as a word a lot of people already know (remembering that the focus at this point of the course is to practice reading and writing a new alphabet, not actually to learn Japanese words).

June 18, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Agent187

So far I have noticed that hiragana is a syllabary, not an alphabet.

June 20, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/CumberHyarion

True, I wasn't being technical, I should have just said "writing system" or something

June 20, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/EugeneTiffany

Right. It is a character set.

August 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/EugeneTiffany

Right. I am having difficulty keeping some of the characters in mind. But seeing them being used in simple words is helping me to get more familiar with them..

August 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/DABurnside

A Japanese teacher (teacher of Japanese) told me seven years ago that about 15% of Japanese words are borrowed from other languages--that seemed like a pretty big percentage to me (and I wonder how many words in English have been borrowed). When teaching a language, it makes perfect sense to initially use those borrowed words to instill confidence and construct a foundation for further learning. One small thing more, I have seen red and black lacquered bento boxes for sale in "Sur La Table," a chain of kitchen supply stores (in the USA). I would guess that "bento" and other Japanese words are probably more common in urban areas.

October 26, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Ly_Mar

How long ago does it have to have been borrowed to count? Because if we count all the words of French origin in English (plus the spurious loanwords from Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese and and many other languages) I'd estimate ~40%. And that is without counting the technical jargon in many different fields (which mostly comprises Latinate or Greek-derived words, though whether that's borrowing is debatable). Of course, Germanic words appear more in texts because they are among the most commonly used (like “the”, “a”, “of”, ”have”, “be”, “give”, etc.), but just looking at your comment above: language, pretty, percentage, perfect, sense, initial, instill, confidence, construct, foundation, lacquer, supply, probable, common, urban, area, they are all words originally borrowed from French. In fact, even in your naturally written comment which uses Germanic function words disproportionately often, about 16% of the text is borrowed words! (I'm not counting “Sur le Table” of course, that would be cheating!)

Languages are amazing :)

November 25, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/cordeyr

Those aren't quite borrowed words. Many words from English originated from German, but they aren't the same. "the", "and" are very similar to "die" and "und", but only if die and und existed in English would they be borrowed words. For example, fiancée and café, those are borrowed words.

English people use café as a place to have a coffee, or a snack, but that word in European means coffee. Coffee originated from café (or its roots), but it's not a borrowed word, because when people want a coffee, they say "I want a coffee" instead of "I want a café"

July 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/DABurnside

Okay, that's interesting, Ly_Mar. I know that the reason English often has two words for so many nouns is because it is a blend of languages (Greek, Latin, German, French, AngloSaxon, Spanish, even Quechua)--possibly more than any other language in use. How many words must a person know to be considered competent (as opposed to "fluent") in a language? How many words are in the English language? The Japanese language? I agree; languages are amazing.

Edit: "The number of words in the English language is: 1,025,109.8. This is the estimate by the Global Language Monitor on January 1, 2014. The English Language passed the Million Word threshold on June 10, 2009 at 10:22 a.m. (GMT)." I do not know what a ".8" word is, and I don't know what methodology was employed here.The Oxford English Dictionary has 171,476 words of which 3,000 are 95% of common text. Next, Japanese, according to an internet source has an estimated 80,000 to 160,000 words of which 50,000 may be in common use. One source said it takes 100,000 words to be fluent in a language. I quote a language instructor who said if you can read and understand a newspaper, you are competent. But hey, no need for me to get wrapped around the axle.

November 25, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/SawyerMorg2

According a source I found (I can't remember, I think it was VSauce, or TedX) said in order to understand 95% of conversations (in the example of Spanish) you need to know 2,500 words!

November 29, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Otum_Doge

@DABurnside Probably mostly Chinese and Korean, according to my history class. Japan did not historically like "western culture" very much.

January 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Taizpian

For everyone upset about learning words that don't translate well into English - keep in mind that a large part of language learning is learning the culture as well. If you aren't already familliar with what manga, or bento boxes are, you should be after mastering the language. It's just like learning French and being upset they teach you the word croissant instead of calling it a flaky pastry. Don't be discouraged!

July 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Otum_Doge

Now I want a croissant.

January 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/martin.mk

Or make you call it a crescent roll.

November 9, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/HoroTanuki

or just "crescent". Since that's what croissant means in French.

November 10, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ZelieZazou

You're right, a large part of language learning consists in learning the culture. IMO that's precisely why Duolingo should provide some explanation of these terms, either as a short sentence or a picture (or both).

June 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/AniinhaNeiva

弁当 = bento

June 20, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/MichaelWRh

It says bento, but I typed bentou as it was spelled and was wrong. I like that it will either take the literal romaji or the english word itself. I.e. Manga or comic.

June 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/GhoulNadir

It is not supposed to just learn you letters but also words, and the word is bento, like Tokyo.

June 8, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Otum_Doge

The U is removed in translation. Weird, I know.

January 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
  • 1947

It's not weird if you understand what's going on behind the scenes.

The long "o" in Japanese is not the pure vowel /o:/ but the diphthong /oʊ/ (and the long "e" is not the pure vowel /e:/ but the diphthong /eɪ/), and when they write things in hiragana they encode that detail. Unlike in katakana where long vowels are just extended with a line ―.

When transliterating (not translating) into English, we use a very simple system that largely ignores the vowel length, because although vowel length is phonemic in Japanese, it is not in English. A good example of a minimal pair in Japanese between short and long vowel is "hoshi" (star) and "hoshii" (want).

January 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Lewis398990

This is what i was looking for in this comment section, thank you. Was a little confused at the extra letter, im familiar with the "ou" = "o with a line over it" = "long o" from various words but had no idea bento was one of them!

October 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Alex680427

But if べんとう is spelled with a long o, then why does duolingo translate it to "bento" with a short o? Shouldn't it be translated as bentou, bentoo or bentō?

April 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
  • 1947

"Bentou/bentō" is nothing more than writing べんとう in rōmaji.

"Bento" is how we write it in English.

April 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/feanixium

I saw another coment talk about this and they said all words that end in an 'o' such as to,po,o,mo,etc... are always acompanied by the 'u' even though its silent.

I jope this helps :3

June 29, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
  • 1947

No, not all such words.

Japanese has long and short vowels, meaning they are pronounced for half time or double time. ou means it's a long o, ei means it's a long e. In katakana, this is indicated with a .

Short sounds are indicated with a small "tsu".

June 29, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/s13579

Some words in Japanese language has long vowels and some of the has short ones at the end of the word. If the word ends with a long お you use an う at the end, if it ends with a long え you use an い to indicate that long wovel. There are no silent う or い.

July 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/unklethan

In a lot of the shows I've seen, べんとう just gets translated as "lunch", not necessarily the box. Any insights on the best way to work with this, especially when in a Japanese cultural setting, not an American one?

June 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Raztastic

Bento has a specific meaning unique to Japanese cuisine. Translating bento as "lunch" or "dinner" or "supper" is a contextual anglacism based upon the time of day the bento is eaten, but it is incorrect -- it is as if one said "let's eat tacos" around noon and it was translated into an equivalent word for "lunch" in a language that does not have its own word for "taco".

June 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/NathanDale3

Bento in Japan is a bit like a meal from a food truck in the States, it's a complete meal in a package for the sake of convenience when you're away from home for the day.

July 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/MichaelB5

Basically 'boxed meal' typically for lunch

August 9, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/pokerguy365

I'm confused as to what that last character is doing there, the first three characters make the sound right? Does it modify something?

June 20, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/CumberHyarion

It's because the o at the end of bento is actually a long o, not a short o. In some romanisations I think you'd write that as bentō. In hiragana the extra う is basically doing the same job as the line over the o in ō, marking where you should say a long vowel instead of a short one. So "to" with a short "o" sound is と, but "tō" with a long "o" sound is とう.

The rule is that to lengthen the vowel sound of a hiragana character with an "o" or "u" vowel, you follow it with う. For hiragana that have a "e" or "i" vowel sound, you use い, and hiragana with an "a" vowel sound you do actually use あ.

I believe there are some exceptions where you use え or お, and also some places where the characters look like they meet this rule but are actually pronounced as a separate vowel in a separate syllable.

June 20, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/9intend0

So what is the purpose of the う at the end of this word and others? Would it be pronounced differently than べんと? Does it change the sound (like the letter 'e' does in the word 'rate', it changes how the 'a' is promised) or is it simply silent (like the 'b' in 'thumb')?

June 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/KeithWong9

If the last sound ends in "o" or "u", e.g. こ そ す く, the う entends the length of the previous sound. e.g. こう kō (koh). It will not change the sound itself.

June 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Kadett7

what is bento?

July 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Tunminn

Looks good.

September 19, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/mark.one.too

So many people complaining. Haha. You might struggle learning if you are so closed minded. Tough up guys, deduce answers, use a dictionary, practice, 頑張って. It's taken them years to develop Japanese!

August 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/JohnTodd10

Bento is Hawaiian vernacular for a small box lunch

July 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/nich227

弁当

February 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/dblhelix

I wrote "Bentō" with the macron, and it warned me about using accents correctly.

August 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
  • 1947

Because that's not how we write it in English. We just spell it "bento".

August 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/TadhgODalaigh

I like the contents of that lunchbox so much that i'd undergo a BENT TOE just to eat it.

February 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/SamSeay1

Looking at a few Japanese words I notice they end with う which is 'u' right? But I can never hear them say the 'u' sound. is it so short its almost silent? Or having not spoken Japanese can I just not hear it?

February 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
  • 1947

Japanese distinguishes between long and short vowels. The short vowels are the pure monophthongs /o/ and /e/ and the long vowels are diphthongs /oʊ/ and /eɪ/. The vowel in "go/row/know" is a diphthong. The vowel in "stay/race/pay" is a diphthong.

Hiragana spelling is very close to "spell it exactly how it sounds". So the diphthong /oʊ/ is spelled with う and the diphthong /eɪ/ is spelled with い. Katakana is almost identical, except the long vowels, even the diphthongs, are spelled with a horizontal line.

February 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/QuentinHea

弁当(べんとう) [bentò] (japanese lunchbox) is a word formed by 2 kanjis : - 弁 : braid, valve, pedal (JLPT N1) - 当 : hit, right, appropriate (JLPT N3)

March 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Spencer595917

I thought that "bento" means "Box" making Bento box redundant. Would be like if we took the word "lunchbox" and took off the word "lunch" and making it "box" but still means "lunchbox". If that makes sense. lol

March 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
  • 1947

"Bento" means "box lunch".

March 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/cosimone1

"bento" is not an English word.

April 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
  • 1947

It might not have started off that way, but it is now!

Or do you not consider "restaurant" to be an English word?
https://www.etymonline.com/word/restaurant

April 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Alex680427

Is it "Bentou" or "Bento"? It is spelled as "Bentou" but it corrects me to "Bento."

April 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/aneds

the u at the end makes the last vowel longer

May 26, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/IsolaCiao

The English word is bento, the transliteration of the Japanese is bentou.

April 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/josivanGOahead

What's Bento?...in Brazil Bento is codiname.

August 31, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/LawrenceChan-0w0

I put lunchbox, is that a better translation or is "Bento" a better translation?

October 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
  • 1947

"Lunchbox" is inadequate. "Bento" is better.

October 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/xberneburg

In Hiragana 4.4, should Hiragana "bento" translate to English "lunch box" instead of English "bento"?

October 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
  • 1947

"Lunchbox" is inadequate. "Bento" is better.

October 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Betta372073

I had no clue that Bento meant Lunch Box

November 3, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
  • 1947

But now you know.

Also, "bento" refers to the uniquely Japanese boxed lunch, not just any lunch box.

November 3, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Baoluoxiong

Chinese also do kind of bento but its called 盒饭

January 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MuhammadSu712724

So, write using u, not just bento?

March 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
  • 1947

bentou is how it's rendered in romaji.

bento is how we write it in English.

March 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/KeithWong9

The English proper word is bento, not bentou. So, bentou is a wrong answer.

March 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Zach_Factor

The pronunciation is more like bentō, right? With a longer "o"?

March 22, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
  • 1947

Yes.

The long お (in both Japanese and English) diphthongizes to "ou" and the long え (in both Japanese and English) diphthongizes to "ei".

March 22, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/PalmtopTig2

I remember the word "bento" on the anime ToraDora!

April 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Sufi258931

Lunchbox works so im gonna roll with it

April 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Hunter523179

Why isn't the answer "lunchbox" instead of "bento"? I mess up and write what's being said in Japanese instead of the translation in English, I don't know why but this is only adding to my confusion.

May 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
  • 1947

Because they're not perfect synonyms. "Lunchbox" fails to capture what bento really is. Other comments on this page go into more details.

May 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Marliot3

Why does "bentou" isn't accepted ?

May 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
  • 1947

Because that's the romaji transliteration, not the way we write it in English.

May 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/DavidMauas

This should be "meal" IMO. It says "translate", not "write what you hear"

April 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/KeithWong9

Meal is not appropriate in translating べんとう. This has been discussed by Rae.F multiple times. Please search for his comments in this thread.

April 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Helen753266

Well, that was hard

April 15, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/TobiLynn

i get why duolingo teaches us how to say fermented soybeans in Japanese because it is tofu, but what is bento?

May 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/K-Yennie

Bento is a type of lunchbox but it is unique so the only name for it is bento. Also on a side note, tofu is soybean curd not fermented soybeans. Batting and tofu are two separate dishes.

May 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/TobiLynn

Ok thx. Do u know because u are Japanese (:

May 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/KeithWong9

People know because this question has been asked and answered numerous times in this thread.

Fermented soybean is 納豆(なっとう)

May 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/TobiLynn

I asked if they know, because they're Japanese? Because if they were, I could talk to them in Japanese, and practice with Japanese sentences, and conversations.

May 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/KeithWong9

You should go to the English for Japanese forum and start a conversation there. Most of the people there are Japanese. https://forum.duolingo.com/topic/839

May 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/K-Yennie

No. Unfortunately I am not. Sorry to disappoint! I wish I was. I do have several Japanese friends.

May 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/turtleishes

Why is there a hirigana u at the end of bento? Wouldnt the u make bento into a different sound?

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
  • 1947

In Japanese, the same as in English, the long "O" and the long "E" are not pure vowels but rather diphthongs. It's just that they explicitly reflect that in spelling in Japanese: long お is おう, long え is えい.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/turtleishes

Why is there a hirigana U at the end of bento? Wouldnt bento be bentou if it had that U at the end?

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Illusie

Come on , 230 comment on bento ,i already read all comment and still dont know what " bento" is ^?^

November 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/KeithWong9

I am pretty sure you have not read Rae.F's comment

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bento

November 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
  • 1947

Or the ones where I say

"Lunchbox" is inadequate. "Bento" is better.

Or the one where I say

Also, "bento" refers to the uniquely Japanese boxed lunch, not just any lunch box.

Or where I say

"Bento" means "box lunch".

Or where I say

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bento

https://en.bentoandco.com/collections/bento-boxes-newest-oldest

Or where KeithWong9 says

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/bento

Or where NathanDale3 says

Bento in Japan is a bit like a meal from a food truck in the States, it's a complete meal in a package for the sake of convenience when you're away from home for the day.

And MichaelB5 in the same thread:

Basically 'boxed meal' typically for lunch

November 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/SteveHaigh1

and in UK English, we'd usually say "packed lunch" then bentobako is "packed lunch box"

April 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/RyanMcKeag2

So why does this not say Lunchbox after translation like all the other words... This seems to be the only word so far that when first introduced shows the picture of a Lunchbox, asks you to find Lunchbox, then proceeds to only give "Bento" as the "Translation".. You might want to correct that.

March 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
  • 1947

Because calling it a lunchbox fails to capture what bento really is. It's a uniquely Japanese style of boxed lunch.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bento

https://en.bentoandco.com/collections/bento-boxes-newest-oldest

March 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/K-Yennie

I think it’s so that when you can get the basic idea of what a bento is by finding something as similar to it as possible. It’s not that bentos are lunchboxes but that lunchboxes are the closest thing to bentos.

March 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/AntonioSou45770

What is Bento ?

April 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/AntonioSou45770

What means Bento?

April 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/IzukuMidorya

Wtf is a bento?

March 15, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/AntonioSou45770

What means Benko ?

April 6, 2019
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