Take the 2-minute tour ×
Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I was just thinking about how the term 子どもたち seems redundant since ども and たち are both plural markers. Of course you can use just 子 to refer to a child, but how did 子供 (and thus 子供たち) come to be the norm? Is the ども in 子供 unrelated etymologically?

I looked here for an answer which is what led to this confusion. I know that the kanji 供 doesn't refer to number, but this is written:

「こども」ということばは「こ」+「ども」という組み合わせでできている。 「ども」は複数を表す接尾辞で「子ら」の「ら」や「子たち」の「たち」と同じ意味である。

Is this accurate?

share|improve this question

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

From 日本国語大辞典 (小学館, 2版)

元来は「子」の複数を表わす語だが、複数を表わすところから若年層の人々全般を指す用法を生じ、それが単数を表わす意味変化の契機となった。

Also...

院政末期には「こども達」という語形が見出され、中世、近世には「こども衆」という語を生じるなど、「大人に対する小児」の用法がいちだんと一般化し、同時に単数を表わすと思われる例が増える。

share|improve this answer
    
I guess that's more or less the predictable answer, huh. Interesting note on the evolution though. –  ssb Feb 5 '13 at 13:04

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.