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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

5
votes
2answers
231 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" ...
-2
votes
1answer
150 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
309 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
228 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
113 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
128 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
74 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
947 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
92 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
149 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
472 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
112 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
222 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
80 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
84 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
398 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
389 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
340 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
116 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
194 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
280 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
116 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
69 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
168 views

Does チャンプルー come from Indonesian?

Quoted from the Japanese Wikipedia entry about チャンプルー ...
6
votes
1answer
387 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
73 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
133 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
71 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
votes
1answer
176 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
574 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
268 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
163 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
160 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
187 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
157 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
178 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?
0
votes
1answer
204 views

Origin of -tai desiderative suffix

Japanese verbs can take the suffix -tai, which attaches to the ren'youkei form and turns the verb into an -i adjective, expressing desire to do what the verb says. I have recently wondered where this ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

Why is カラオケ (karaoke) written in katakana?

I noticed カラオケ (karaoke) is always written in katakana on signs/buildings in Japan, despite it being a Japanese word. Why is it not written in Kanji or Hiragana? As I understand it, the usual reasons ...
0
votes
2answers
433 views

Why 'okane o haraimasu'?

In sentences such as: Jana will pay for the drinks. or Will the kids have to pay?. Why is it okane o haraimasu instead of ... o haraimasu? [Correct] Examples: Jana san wa nomimono no okane o ...
3
votes
1answer
264 views

Etymological connection between 門 and 円?

I'm curious if there's any historical link between the kanji for "gate", 門{かど}, and the kanji for "circle" or "yen", 円{えん}. If 門 is gate, 円 looks like a closed gate. Am I being whimsical and seeing ...
5
votes
1answer
837 views

Words for Ginkgo in Japanese: ぎんきょう and ぎんなん

I decided to read about the words for Ginkgo in Japanese (as in Ginkgo biloba). I was surprised to learn that Ginkgo comes from Japanese! According to Wikipedia, Engelbert Kaempfer, while writing ...
16
votes
1answer
1k views

Why is 島 used in the name of some cities?

I can understand "島" being used in 硫黄島 (Iwo Jima/Iwo To, literally "Sulphur island"), because it is an island, but why is it used in 福島市 (Fukushima city, literally "Good fortune island") and 広島市 ...
4
votes
4answers
526 views

Why is ホワイト spelled as it is?

What is the precise etymology of the word? Was it borrowed at the time when it was pronounced [hwait] or they just perceived it like that?