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I imagine that in じゃんけんぽん, けん corresponds to which I interpret as "fist" which is "rock".

Do じゃん and ぽん correspond to "scissors" and "paper" ?

If not, then do the individual parts of じゃん, けん and ぽん mean anything on their own or are they derived from another word?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

According to this article, "じゃんけんぽん" is a corruption of the Chinese pronunciation of "両拳碰, which is pronounced in Cantonese "loeng kyun pung". 碰 in Chinese means "to collide" or "to clash", so the full phrase means "two fists collide".

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m.youtube.com/watch?v=yL3lJfpenAc&t=57s – user458 Aug 3 '12 at 23:26
@sawa. That's pretty funny considering the context of じゃんけんぽん. "It's a primitive clash, venting years of frustrations, bravely we hope against all hope, there is so much at stake" And so we shall settle it with a game of じゃんけん. – Flaw Aug 4 '12 at 12:03

The names for the hand signals are グー(rock), チョキ (scissors), and パー (paper). I don't know where these words come from, but I've never heard じゃん, けん, or ぽん to refer to them individually, just the game. (The reverse isn't true, though. I've heard the game be referred to as グーチョキパー)

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Thanks for editing. Nitpicking: “on-yomi” means a reading of a kanji letter which arises from Chinese pronunciation, and it is not correct to use here because we are not talking about a reading of a kanji (although depending on the origin of じゃんけんポン, the ポン part may be actually a reading of a kanji). – Tsuyoshi Ito Aug 3 '12 at 22:02
@Tsuyoshi: Oh, I'm sorry, what I mean was when I make kanji flashcards I type out the on-yomi in katakana, and it's always (for example) グウ, not グー :) – silvermaple Aug 4 '12 at 1:25
Ah, now I see what you meant. If you write the readings of, say, kanji 偶, then they will be something like “グウ, たま.” – Tsuyoshi Ito Aug 6 '12 at 12:01

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