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Well, 以上 is used after a speech to indicate that the speech has been concluded (i.e., 'Everything before this has been said.'). 以上 is used in numbers to mean 'or more', as in 八十%以上 (as in, 'Everything after this is included.'). If you want to say, "80% or less", you say 八十%以下 or 八十%以外 for "anything but 80%". Are 以上 and 以上 only homonyms and homophones, or are the words somehow synonymous, by definition?

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Here's the confusion.... If you are filling a cup with water, then 以上 is everything above what you have filled. If you are filling a page with words, 以上です is everything that has been filled (the proverbial water in the cup, rather than the space left). In speaking, 以上です as in これ以上ない again becomes the 'empty space' in the cup. It's everything after what you have already said. For example 話すことはこれ以上ない means, 'I have nothing more to say.' Even though it's kind of a negative form of 以上です, it has the same meaning. People don't say, 以上じゃないです, though. There's no real negative form.... –  千里ちゃん Aug 11 '11 at 2:27
    
If you say, 'There's a party, and it's going to be fun!' In your writing, パーティのお知らせ, and you write the dates below, you use 以下に. Then when you say 'I love eating,' you say, いっぱい食べれたらこれ以上幸せなことはない。 meaning, "Nothing makes me happier than being able to eat a lot!" It considers the empty possibility of eating more. 話すことはこれ以上ない, seems backwards because it's like, "I don't need to talk, anymore. Everything has already been said," in consideration of the filled space, before. Even when people explain it to me, it seems like they always explain themselves backwards and forwards. –  千里ちゃん Aug 11 '11 at 2:44
    
possible duplicate of Do 以上 and 以下 include the number preceding them? –  user458 Jan 5 '12 at 1:34

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

In both examples, means 'above'. When you are talking about something that already has a scale, that naturally applies. Towards the higher end will be 'above' and the lower end will be 'below'. In case of speach or writing, there is no inherent scale, so a scale has to be added. And the normal habit is that, in writing, the flow goes from the top of the page to the bottom, so if you refer to something previously mentioned, that corresponds to 'above'. That is carried over to speech.

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I thought about it a little. Maybe 以上です means, "Everything up until now has been included," and, "80%以上" means, "Everything up until now has been discarded." So 以上 could just mean, 'Everything up until now has been {some verb for 'excluded'}'. You can't really say '上から', either, I think.

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I just wonder why 'from the top' and 'from the bottom' both result in the same meaning, when dealing with percentages and combining 以上 or 以下. –  千里ちゃん Aug 10 '11 at 17:07

Don't they both refer to a range measured from a point on a scale? For numbers:

80%以上 80% and every percentage above

80%以下 80% and every percentage below

For text:

以上略 everything above this point has been cut out

(文章はここから始まる) (the text starts here)

以下略 everything below this point has been cut out

So when you say 以上です, it's like a shortcut for saying 私が言いたいのは以上です。 ("The things I want to say are above (before) this point.").

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Well there-in lies the issue. 'Everything above this point is included in cutting,' in text. 以上です at the end of a speech seems the reverse of the numeric sense, in your explanation. So, some of my friends and I are thinking that they're homophones and homonyms, but they're not synonyms. In terms of text, though, 略 means 'shorten'. So, 'shorten everything above' is 以上略. It's counting the words as numbers would be considered. 以上です -> 'things I wanted to say were before'..., and before means above? Interesting.... –  千里ちゃん Aug 11 '11 at 1:20
    
And to answer your question, I guess that depends on whether you think of a speech or a document in terms of a scale. –  千里ちゃん Aug 11 '11 at 1:21
    
I guess 'are above' is what you would write if you were referring to something earlier in a text, so that makes sense. :) –  千里ちゃん Aug 11 '11 at 1:25

I always think of it like this. 以上 means "more than", so with numbers it's the obvious definition as you pointed out. When meaning "finished" or "that's all", I like to think that it's an abbreviation of これ以上はない which would mean "there's nothing more (than this)". I don't know if this is true or not, but maybe it would help to think of it this way.

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I agree with your idea of abbreviation, but I don't think it is an abbreviation of a negative form. It is simply "言いたいことは以上(で全て)だ". –  user458 Aug 10 '11 at 17:59
    
Maybe it's true, but it only kind of makes sense to me.... How does it mean 'more than' when you say 以上です after speaking? It actually means the opposite, 'There's no more.' –  千里ちゃん Aug 11 '11 at 2:46

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