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I know it's a stretch, and I'm pretty sure it's not, but is 名前 related to name? I always thought it was weird that they were so similar in pronunciation.

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They are also not close in pronunciation, only in Rōmaji spelling. /neim/ vs /na.ma.e/ –  user54609 Oct 30 '13 at 12:04
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@user54609 However, it's not as far off from German's "Name" (ナーメ). –  Kaz Oct 30 '13 at 15:33
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2 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

It's just a coincidence and an example of a false cognate.

The etymology is covered here in Japanese.

Basically, the term "名" has been around for a pretty long time with the same meaning as 名前. It's thought that the 前 part is an honorific that was added some time later. Early uses of the full word 名前 can be seen in use in relatively modern times. The English term for it seems to be "modern" in the historical sense, but in Japanese 近世 seems to refer roughly to the Azuchi-momoyama period through Edo, roughly 1500s to mid 1800s. Not quite sure exactly when the first recorded use was. It was widely used from the Meiji period onward.

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Clearly the word 設定 also has its roots in the English word "set".

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We have "comments are not for answers", but I think we should also have a "answers are not for comments". I don't think this really answers the question, but rather questions the question in a roundabout way. Moreover, your answer seems to suggest that any cognate should be false. Like たばこ would be a false cognate of "tobacco". –  Earthliŋ Nov 1 '13 at 20:45
    
@Earthling: I do not think that this answer suggests that any cognate should be false. OP thought that 名前 and name might be related because he thought “it was weird that they were so similar in pronunciation,” and as I understand it, the intent of this answer is to point out the flaw in OP’s reasoning (indirectly—which some people may dislike, but that is a separate issue). –  Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 1 '13 at 23:40
    
@TsuyoshiIto Fair enough. To me it's still not clear whether citing 設定 and "set" is enough to point out the flaw in the OP's reasoning, unless the OP agrees that they are that similar in pronunciation (at which point he could ask, whether 設定 indeed has its roots in the English word "set"). –  Earthliŋ Nov 1 '13 at 23:53
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@Earthling: Just in case, I have never claimed that this answer is easy to follow. (In fact, I am worried that some visitors in future may read this answer and believe that 設定 originates from set, but again, that is a separate issue.) –  Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 2 '13 at 0:05
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