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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10
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2answers
155 views

What is the etymology of the “emphatic” ない?

Upon looking up the term 大事ない, I was, shall we say, nonplussed to learn that it could mean both "very important" and "not very important". The explanation of the "very important" meaning clears things ...
7
votes
1answer
176 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
2answers
143 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 : 人または物件の数(をかぞえる語)...
4
votes
2answers
176 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?
5
votes
3answers
201 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 "...
5
votes
3answers
234 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"?
3
votes
2answers
192 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
256 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" (私)...
-2
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1answer
155 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?
3
votes
3answers
352 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
231 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 ...
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, ...
7
votes
1answer
271 views

火の車 Where did it come from

My sensei in class told us about 火の車 that means someone in a difficult financial strait . I was wondering what does it have to do with fire 火 and a car 車?
5
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the etymology of the word Katsu?

I heard from an English man that the katsu karē (カツカレー) dish was from English inspiration originally: he told me that the word 'katsu' is coming from cutlet and 'karē' would be curry. Please can ...
23
votes
3answers
1k views

Kanji for native Japanese concepts: Kun'yomi spanning multiple morphemes

There are a few words, which are written with Kanji imported from China, but where the intended native Japanese meaning would prefer a different choice of Kanji. My favourite examples are 雷 vs. 神鳴り (...
1
vote
1answer
132 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
78 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" ...
24
votes
1answer
966 views

Did ありがとう come from Portuguese “obrigado”?

I have heard before that ありがとう came from the word "obrigado" in Portuguese. Is this true and is there any evidence to support this, or is it an old wives' tale?
2
votes
1answer
96 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
1answer
150 views

Etymologically why do some words have explicit potential sense while others don't have?

Consider the following pairs, can hear: 聞ける (the potential of 聞く) and 聞こえる can see: 見られる (the potential of 見る) and 見える I am interested to know the etymologies of how some words have explicit ...
9
votes
1answer
156 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
516 views

Etymology and meaning of ukemi (受け身?) as part of 合気道

I practice 合気道. We do a lot of break falling that we call ukemi. I was led to believe that it meant safe escape from a technique. However, I started looking at the Japanese and found I only had part ...
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
232 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
1answer
98 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
2
votes
0answers
86 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
405 views

Why is coffee with shochu or awamori called コーヒー割{わ}り “split / divided coffee”?

About five nights ago I went out with a local friend to a traditional Okinawan club in Naha. We were of course drinking 泡盛{あわもり} (awamori) with water and ice. But the girl working there had a drink ...
13
votes
1answer
391 views

How did やわらかい gain its い?

As we know, there is a class of adjectives that end in 〜らか: 滑【なめ】らか, 明【あき】らか, 清【きよ】らか, 安【やす】らか, etc. やわらか (柔らか or 軟らか) is also in this class of adjectives. However, it can also be written as the イ-...
5
votes
2answers
378 views

Doesn't Japan call North Korea “北朝鮮” ? why?

If I remember correctly, North Korea is called "北朝鮮{きたちょうせん}" in Japan? But, I think "朝鮮" might actually be written in Katakana? Anyway, given that "朝鮮" was Japan's colonial name for (all of) Korea, ...
5
votes
1answer
119 views

手を貸す and 'lend a hand' - coincidence?

At some point I found that 手を貸す both literally and figuratively means 'to lend a hand' - is the resemblance a coincidence?
5
votes
1answer
201 views

Why are japanese comic storyboards called names (ネーム)?

ネーム is the rough draft which the finished manga is based on. (reference) I can't for the life of me figure out the origin of this word. Why did it end up being the English word "name"?
14
votes
3answers
282 views

What is the か in「か弱い」?

I'm wondering what the か in か弱い, か細い and similar words is. It seems to act as an intensifier. The Daijisen tells me simply that this か is a 接頭語, and translates it as いかにも; it doesn't seem to have its ...
2
votes
1answer
118 views

Is it okay to use お帰りなさい on a collegue?

I just want to ask what is the impact of using お帰りなさい on someone who just come back from a business trip? well to elaborate a little, we have a Japanese employee in our company, and one of my ...
3
votes
1answer
70 views

Why are the words 「とうもろこし」 and 「とうきび」 used more commonly in Hokkaido than 「コーン」?

Why are the words 「とうもろこし」 and 「とうきび」 so commonly used in Hokkaido, whereas 「コーン」 seems to be more commonly used on the other islands of Japan?
4
votes
2answers
173 views

Does チャンプルー come from Indonesian?

Quoted from the Japanese Wikipedia entry about チャンプルー チャンプルーの語源は、インドネシア語・マレー語のcampur[1][2](チャンプールまたはチャンポール:音声は[3])との説がある[1]。この語は、同語源の日本語のちゃんぽんと同様「混ぜる」「混ぜたもの(料理)」という意味を持ち、インドネシア料理にはナシチャンプルという、...
6
votes
1answer
389 views

Where does “gold day” originate from?

Recently I learned what the days of the week are and noticed "kinyobi" 金曜日. I'd like to know where the term "gold" relates to. Were people in ancient Japan paid at Friday each week?
1
vote
1answer
74 views

Translating “数年の歳月” in this context, is it a unit of time?

In the video game Chantelise, the epilogue starts with: それから数年の歳月が流れました The translated version just says: After several years And while that's a concise and accurate translation... I was ...
5
votes
1answer
140 views

Are 臭い{くさい} and 腐る{くさる} related?

Do 臭い{くさい} and [腐る]{くさる} have similar roots? They obviously sound very similar; the only difference in pronunciation is the final mora, but maybe that's only because of the part of speech. The ...
2
votes
1answer
83 views

Where does the れ reading of 落 in 洒落 come from?

Both wiktionary and jisho.org list the on'yomi for 落ちる as ラク. The kun'yomi is 落{お}ちる, 落{お}とす, or 落{お}ち. So I'm wondering how this kanji developed the reading れ in お洒落{しゃれ} and 洒落{しゃれ}.
4
votes
1answer
75 views

Etymology of とにかく

I was wondering with anyone knew the etymology of とにかく or any of its variants. The literal meaning doesn't make sense when you consider its actual meaning, so I got curious.
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Why is ローマ字 spelt without an ン?

Why is ローマ字 spelt without an ン? As far as I can tell, it's not because you can't have an ん sound before a じ sound, because 漢字 has an ん sound before 字. Did early Europeans' term for Roman letters not ...
12
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1answer
183 views

What does 尿が近い and 尿が遠い mean?

seeing 尿が遠い/尿が近い in some medical documents and sites, what does 遠い and 近い mean in this sense? Does it literally mean the urine is far(ranged)/urine is close (ranged)?
8
votes
1answer
695 views

Where does the な in 大人 (otona) come from?

As far as I understand, the word 大人 (otona) uses the kanji 大 to represent お and the kanji 人 to represent と. According to this site the readings for 人 do not include な. Where does the な come from then?
10
votes
1answer
270 views

Etymology of 宵【よい】

This is a loose follow-up of my first question here on JLSE. I tried to check gogen-allguide.com and 大辞林, but couldn't find anything definitive. Unfortunately I don't know any other resources for ...
5
votes
0answers
171 views

Is the interjection おう really a Chinese loanword?

In Samuel E. Martin's "A Reference Grammar of Japanese", in a section (Chapter 23, p. 1041) on putative etymologies for some Japanese interjections like さあ or まあ, he asserts: Although others [...
7
votes
2answers
162 views

Is “俎板の上の鯉” related to the Vietnamese phrase “như cá nằm trên thớt”?

Is the Japanese phrase "俎板の上の鯉" - a carp laid on a chopping block related to the Vietnamese phrase "như cá nằm trên thớt" - like a fish on cutting board, either because Japanese got the phrase from ...
4
votes
1answer
216 views

What is the difference between 良い and いい?

Consider the following: 良い yoi — 良く yoku いい ii — よく yoku When typing いい, IME offers 良い in the lookup table. It makes me wonder whether いい is just an alias of 良い but it is pronounced ...
3
votes
2answers
164 views

How did 逸 come to feature in pleasure/idleness words?

I can't judge the reliability of http://www.kanjinetworks.com (and it is probably controversial), but there the speed, movement meaning of 逸 is linked to its claimed origins in 兎{うさぎ}. Hence 逸する, 逸らす ...
1
vote
1answer
199 views

Why is イチゴ written in katakana?

From which language did it come to Japanese? And why does it have its own kanji?