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While looking up the denonym for a Kansai resident (I've since found out it's 関西人{かんさいじん}), jisho.org described 才六, 贅六, 上方才六, 賽六 and 采六, with pronunciations (not necessarily in that order) of ぜいろく, ぜえろく, かみがたざいろく, and さいろく as being (presumably related) words used to debase people from Kansai.

What did these words mean?

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2 Answers

According to 大辞泉{だいじせん} the term came from 丁稚{でっち}, a term used particularly in the area around Kyōto for "shop boy"/apprentice (and also apparently sometimes used as a derogatory term itself). 小僧{こぞう} was the Edo equivalent of 丁稚.

The suggested development is this: 丁稚 sounds like 重一, a term from sugoroku where both dice come up as ones. The opposite side from the one on a dice is six, hence "ろく". This would also explain the use of the kanji 采・賽

Some alternative explanations can be found here

  1. (from 大阪ことば事典) From the terms 青二才・毛二才, with the addition of 六 as in 甚六・宿六 (where 六 = ろくでなし), from which 毛二才六 was shortened to 毛才六 and then just 才六

  2. From some form like 6つの贅沢{ぜいたく} or 6つの才能{さいのう} (these are likely to be later explanations tacked on).

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What did these words mean?

才六, 贅六, 賽六 and 采六 are all the same word written in various kanji. There are several pronunciations:

  • sairoku: most basic and original.
  • zeiroku: Derives from above sairoku. This is how an easterner would pronounce the word. ai > eː is a common phonological change in eastern Japanese. Likely pronounced as zeːroku (zeeroku) rather than zeiroku. Voiced sounds, especially word initial, often have a negative sense to it, which is likely the explanation for s > z.
  • zeeroku: Same as above, but this time spelling ai > eː as ee instead of ei.

The word kamigata (上方) is the area around Kyōto. cf Kinki and Kansai. While sairoku etc generally already refer to people from the western part of Japan, this specifies the region.

As for the meaning, originally sairoku meant a young person. (Similar to aonisai 青二才). When not applied to a child, this may be insulting and is how the term came to be used as an insult.

Just speculating but I wonder if 才六 is just an inversion of 六才 "six years old". There are other slang words like this such as biichiku < chikubi (乳首) and jingai (人外 < 外人).

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