語源. The study of the origin of words and the historical development of their meanings. Sometimes used for kanji as well; we currently don't have a separate tag for character origins.

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7
votes
2answers
320 views

Counter intuitive meaning of お開き

Apparently 開き means "opening" but お開き means "closure", which seems very counter intuitive. What is going on here? Are there any other similar cases in Japanese language?
8
votes
1answer
86 views

何も言うでない ! meaning and origin

I have found this sentence in Odin Sphere. I guess it's kind of old fashion for a strong interdiction. I first thought it came from the negative form of である but it doesn't seem to be replaceable by ...
8
votes
0answers
135 views

Why are the high-pitched voices of children 'yellow'?

I was reading a little book called 『ひらがな物語』 and came across this passage on page 119: ​ 大臣といえば明治初期の文部大臣森有礼が ​「めんどうだから、いっそのこと、小学校教育は英語にしようか」 ​ と、おおまじめで、いい出したこともあった。もし森文部大臣の発言が通っておれば今頃、 ​ パパ ...
8
votes
1answer
116 views

Why are some sharks named after birds?

Some sharks are seemingly named after birds: great white shark: hoojirozame 頬白鮫 from hoojiro (meadow bunting) sandbar shark: mejirozame 目白鮫 from mejiro (white-eye) blue shark: yoshikirizame 葦切鮫 from ...
2
votes
1answer
186 views

What is 「ピプロシン体」?

This is the first time I've failed to find a word in both dictionaries and Google search: the only hit Google finds is the article where this quote appears: ...
6
votes
1answer
142 views

What is the origin of 付いてる meaning “to be lucky”?

Where does that come from? Was "to be attached" the only original meaning?
5
votes
3answers
134 views

Etymology of names of playing cards?

According to the Japanese wikipedia, the playing cards ("trump") are named as follows (written in Japanese in katakana): A: Ace 2: Deuce 3: torei 4: keito 5: shinku 6: saisu 7: Seven 8: Eight ...
6
votes
2answers
219 views

Is 翻す a former compound verb that merged into its current form?

The verb ひるがえす feels like it is made of two part ひる and かえす but I could not find any references backing this interpretation. And I can't figure out what would be ひる. @snailboat also mentioned くつがえす ...
6
votes
2answers
127 views

About 忙 and 忘 using same radicals but having different meanings

Today I confused 忙 with 忘 and now I can see why: they are made of same radicals and yet they have different meanings. Is there a logical reason for this?
5
votes
2answers
230 views

Why is たばこ written in hiragana instead of katakana?

While studying my Genki textbook I noticed that the word たばこ uses hiragana instead of katakana. I've always seen loan words to be in katakana, so this was interesting to me. I saw in this answer that ...
4
votes
1answer
98 views

Common origin of uses of the か particle

The particle か pops up in various places (among others): Turning interrogative pronouns into indefinite ones: なに -> なにか, だれ -> だれか, etc.; Listing alternatives (like the English conjunction 'or'); ...
20
votes
2answers
851 views

What is the etymology behind したっけ

僕だけがいない街 anime shows the children saying したっけ! translated as 'See ya!' and other terms, these are from Hokkaido dialect. I guess you can switch したっけ to other forms to say 'See ya': じゃあまた また明日 ...
7
votes
2answers
175 views

Why does 屋根 means roof and 天井 means ceiling? Shouldn't it be the contrary?

I was learning these words with my kanji list, and I thought that I made a mistake and switched their meanings, but after checking the dictionary again I realized that actually their definition is ...
11
votes
1answer
98 views

What is the image/feeling/concept behind 面白半分に◯◯する?

In a phrase like: 面白{おもしろ}半分に見る or 面白半分に言う What is the concept behind the 半分 and why is it connected with the verb using に? Is it like "all things have two parts/aspects": serious (真剣半分?) ...
2
votes
1answer
103 views

Why can a single word have more than one Kanji?

For example, うなずく has 3 Kanji as follows. 頷く 首肯く 肯く Why can this single word have 3 Kanji?
5
votes
0answers
156 views

Etymology of 鼻の下を伸ばす

Today I've came across the expression 鼻の下を伸ばす/ 鼻の下が長い and had to look up its meaning. . Other web dictionaries have different meanings, like to be soft on women, to be spooney, and similar other ...
5
votes
1answer
71 views

Is 薬指 related to the Latin term “digitus medicinalis”?

薬指 ("medicine finger", ring finger) is interestingly similar to the Latin term for ring finger, "digitus medicinalis". Are they etymologically related?
1
vote
2answers
134 views

Origin of this character: 體

The character, 體 (tai) which I think loosly means entity looks different than the what I have noticed in other characters. In particular, the radical on the left looks strange. I tried to find it on ...
3
votes
1answer
113 views

同{おな}じ that means “same” is a noun but 違{ちが}う that means “differs” is a verb

When I asked Japanese about the opposite of 同じ, they always answer 違う. For me, it sounds strange that 同じ which is a noun has an antonym 違う which is a verb. Is there a pair of adjectives in Japanese ...
9
votes
2answers
213 views

What conjugation of 願う is 願わくば, and what does it mean here?

This is my first post here, I'm sorry if I didn't follow any formatting or posting rules. Original sentence, from a character's monologue: 願わくばこの時間が少しでも長く続くことを。。。 The English translation I have ...
10
votes
1answer
172 views

Use of テロ in 飯テロ

Why is テロ, which is presumably derived from "terrorism", used in 飯{めし}テロ, which I assume is the Japanese for "food porn"? I checked jisho.org and couldn't find any slang meanings of テロ.
15
votes
1answer
664 views

Reading and usage of 「垂オます」

A while ago I was chatting with a Japanese man and when he introduced himself instead of using 「申す」 or 「言う」 he used 「垂オます」, as in (His name)と垂オます. Can this be used in the same way as 「申す」 and 「言う」 ...
5
votes
1answer
134 views

Meaning of じゃろ and じゃろう

カトちゃんだって、実際は別に毎日長さんに怒られてるわけじゃないじゃろから、本当は ”人気者で怒られない人” じゃろうね。 In reality it's not really the case that even Katochan gets told off by Chou everyday so, in truth, people who don't get told off by ...
11
votes
1answer
178 views

Why is the た in 手伝う voiced?

て+つたう→てつだう Unexpectedly, the た from つたう turns into だ. 連濁, at least with the 手+伝う analysis, can't account for this, because it's not the first consonant of 伝う. What happened here? 和訳 ...
4
votes
1answer
108 views

Understanding “鯖を読む”

鯖を読む would be naively translated as "Reading a mackerel". Weblio describes it as metaphorically meaning to misrepresent a number, such as their age. jisho.org says that as well as meaning "to read", ...
5
votes
3answers
124 views

Usage of 契り when meaning destiny/fate/karma

I was looking up some examples using 夫婦 and I came across this: 夫婦の契り translated on alc as "marriage bed". No problem, but then I looked as 契り by itself. On WWWJDIC there are 3 definitions: ...
7
votes
2answers
212 views

Where does the furigana split on 小路?

Where does the furigana split on the word 小路{こうじ}? Does the う belong to 小 or does it belong to 路? Or is the word considered to have a 熟字訓読み (i.e. no split)? 小 has the reading こ 路 has the reading じ ...
7
votes
1answer
111 views

Is 立つ in 顔が立つ is always imperfective? If so why?

I understand that the word 立つ has various meanings, but basically can be used to describe a state (for inanimate and animate objects) as well as a process (for animate objects). To describe a state ...
5
votes
2answers
142 views

Meaning of 座 in 口座

I don't understand why 口座, "(bank) account" is written with the kanji 座 in it... I got that 口 conveyed the idea of a number of something from the 広辞苑 which have this definition : ...
7
votes
1answer
171 views

Origin of the word 烏有

I saw the phrase 烏有{うゆう}に帰{き}す, which means to "become nothing" as if turning to ashes. The word "烏有" means nothing, but its parts are 烏 (crow) and 有 (to be). How did 烏有 come to mean nothing? When I ...
5
votes
3answers
231 views

Before Japanese adopted Arabic numerals, can 十分 mean “10 minutes” other than “enough”?

I am not sure when Japanese started using Arabic numerals. At the time before it, can 十分 mean "10 minutes" other than "enough"?
5
votes
3answers
199 views

The origin of “HN”

I've read that HN is used as an abbreviation (略) of "Handle Name". Why was Handle Name abbreviated in Japanese instead of the much more common, at least in English, "User Name" or even the good old ...
3
votes
2answers
191 views

Why is the phrase ご連絡申しあげます linguistially correct?

I assume ご連絡申しあげます and ご連絡を申しあげます have the same meaning, but differ in style. I use them interchangeably below. This question is not about existence of を unless it was relevant to understanding the ...
-2
votes
1answer
151 views

Why is 電話(でんわ)in hiragana?

from what i can tell, it shares the same meaning in chinese. shouldnt a phone be written in katakana?
5
votes
2answers
246 views

私 Origin / Etymology?

I'm taking a beginners Japanese course, and I heard that Japanese Kanji originated from the Chinese writing system, which is the reason for so many similarities. However, the Japanese Kanji for "I" ...
8
votes
1answer
229 views

Etymology of 姪 and 甥

姪 "niece" is often pronounced [[me.i]] rather than [[meː]] (see e.g. this comment in chat). I think the reason for this is that there is a morpheme boundary in 姪, presumably 姪 = 女【め】 + イ = female ...
4
votes
1answer
77 views

Is there any phonetic rule behind readings 馬場{ばば} and 馬場{ばんば}?

I understand that place names often undergo changes separate from regular language, but I always wondered if there was any phonetic rule behind reading for the word 馬場. Meaning "horse riding grounds" ...
2
votes
1answer
115 views

Why would the Japanese transliteration from Greek Χριστος be spelled as ハリストス instead of キリストス?

Although it's not as common as キリスト, ハリストス is seen in the name of Japan's Orthodox Church. But why ハリストス if the pronounce of the Greek Χριστος is khristós (with a clear kri sound)? There is キリストス too, ...
2
votes
1answer
93 views

When to use 選る/選ぶ?

When might 選る be used over 選ぶ? Also is there an additional fossilised morpheme deriving one from the other (i.e. is 選ぶ er-ab-u), and if so, what does it mean?
3
votes
3answers
330 views

Why is Eden written as エデン in Japanese?

I just started watching "Eden of the East" and noticed that the Katakana used for Eden was エデン. I'm wondering why isn't it instead イデン which would be pronounced the same way as in English (which I was ...
1
vote
1answer
129 views

Are most kanji characters morphemes?

I've always assumed that kanji characters are almost always morphemes, but I've hardly seen anyone explicitly state that. I think the idea that kanji usually represent ideas, not pronunciation, played ...
9
votes
1answer
151 views

Etymology of 天地無用

WWWJDIC: [天地無用]{てんちむよう} (exp) (yoji) do not turn upside down I see this on some cardboard boxes in the context of shipping and handling. Why is this expression used to indicate "this side up", or ...
2
votes
2answers
116 views

How Is つ/ツ origin 川?

Wikipedia's Tsu (kana) page says つ/ツ hiragana origin 川 katakana origin 川 How Is つ/ツ origin 川?
6
votes
1answer
226 views

Origin of the kanji for 叶う

One thing that has always confused me is how the word 叶【かな】う took on the meaning of for a (wish) to come true. I find this perplexing because in Chinese, the word has never had this meaning. 叶's ...
3
votes
2answers
171 views

When did the word 「女性観」 come into standard usage? Is it a more politically-correct form of 「婦人観」?

I need to know when 「女性観」 was coined and, more importantly, when it became widely known/used. Was 「女性観」used in the early to mid-19th century? Did it replace 「婦人観」later on? Nitobe Inazo used 「婦人観」 in ...
3
votes
1answer
81 views

proper usage of 出かける

What is the proper usage of 出かける because most of the time I am only using 行く or 出る for example 川へせんたくしに行く and I don't get its difference from 川へせんたくに出かける thanks for the responds
10
votes
3answers
4k views

Why do they say 'kawaii' for 'poor thing'?

I've observed that when someone wants to say 'poor thing', they say something like 'kawaii sonna' and I know that kawaii means cute. Can someone please explain? Thanks.
2
votes
0answers
85 views

Does the term 大和撫子 predate WWII, or was there an equivalent term for the ideal Japanese lady?

Does the term 「大和撫子」for describing the ideal Japanese lady predate WWII, or was there an equivalent term before that? These sites here and here indicate that the term was co-opted for propaganda ...
0
votes
0answers
48 views

Where does げ come from? [duplicate]

Where does ~げ come from? For example in 地震の影響で工場を閉じることになったと説明する社長は悔しげだった。 it is supposed to mean that we get a slight impression that the manager was "regretful" while explaining why the ...
4
votes
2answers
173 views

Is アルコール from Portuguese?

The word アルコール is very similar to the Portuguese alcohol (pronounced alcōl), this seems closer than the English アルコホール. So is the real etymology Portuguese rather than English?