語源. The study of the origin of words and the historical development of their meanings.

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9
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2answers
421 views

What is the origin of the phrase 一石二鳥?

This particular 四字熟語 is exactly the same as the proverb in English, "kill two birds with one stone." I find it to be a strange coincidence that both would have this phrase independently of each other, ...
14
votes
2answers
467 views

Nouns exhibiting vowel fronting

As touched upon in another thread, there are several nouns that exhibit a kind of vowel shift in older forms, where the ending vowel is fronted when the noun is used on its own to become /i/ or /e/, ...
2
votes
1answer
93 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?
3
votes
0answers
85 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Why does 丈夫 and 大丈夫 mean what they mean?

Looking at the individual kanji according to a dictionary: 丈 means height, stature, length 夫 means husband, man 大 means big, great They seem unrelated to what these words using the kanji mean: 丈夫 ...
0
votes
2answers
124 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
56 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?
2
votes
1answer
86 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 ...
26
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3answers
631 views

What is the etymology behind る in 日{ひ}/昼{ひる} and 夜{よ}/夜{よる}?

I noticed that there is this る coming up in 日{ひ}→昼{ひる} and 夜{よ}→夜{よる}. I haven't seen ひる and よる used a lot in Classical Japanese, so ひ and よ probably came first. What is the role of this る? Does it ...
9
votes
1answer
236 views

Was “乎” the man'yōgana spelling of the accusative/object particle “を”?

In the English Wiktionary entry for "を" there is a quote or example sentence using the character "乎" with no explanation seemingly where the particle "を" would normally occur. Now I couldn't find ...
8
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2answers
199 views

Why was 邪 chosen to spell the names of 伊邪那岐神 and 伊邪那美神 in the 古事記?

I had been wondering about this for a while. Consider the spelling of he names of Izanagi and Izanami in the 古事記: 伊邪那岐神【いざなぎのかみ】 and (妹【いも】)伊邪那美神【いざなみのかみ】 (source) Both of their names ...
16
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2answers
633 views

Why did の disappear from 山手, but in 御茶ノ水 it's in katakana?

I realize that very likely the answer to this question is likely to be something along the lines of "that's just the way it is", but I thought it worth asking to see if there were some insights that ...
8
votes
2answers
191 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
323 views

What was the origin for the term 水{みず}色{いろ} to be associated with youth, adolescence and puberty?

I am particularly interested in the phrase 「水{みず}色{いろ}時{じ}代{だい}」. Did it come from the old manga that used the phrase as its title, or has the phrase been carrying that particular cultural connotation ...
11
votes
2answers
3k views

About 「同{おな}じ」 and 「同{おな}じく」

As far as I know, 「[同じ]{おなじ}」 is not a 形容詞{けいようし} (-i adjective) so how does it become 「[同じく]{おなじく}」? Or does 「同じく」 not come from 「同じ」? Also, are there any other non i-adjectives that have -ku ...
10
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3answers
1k views

よかろう - What does it mean? Where does it come from?

This is another question that's come from a 昔話。 We have the following section: 大きい箱と小さい箱がありますが、どちらがいいですか。 どちらも結構じゃが、どうしてもと言うのなら、小さいほうでよかろう。 I'm having trouble with the second sentence. My ...
14
votes
1answer
629 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」 ...
9
votes
1answer
142 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.
4
votes
1answer
93 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 ...
14
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7answers
2k views

Is there an objective source of the origins of kanji?

Is there an authoritative source that explains where the different kanji come from and what the radicals mean? I think it's hard to tell from most of the textbooks/other sources whether a shown ...
10
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1answer
155 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 ...
13
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1answer
482 views

Why is 五右衛門 read “goemon”?

Why is the name 五右衛門 read as ごえもん? How can the three kanji 五右衛 be read with only two syllables?
3
votes
1answer
98 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", ...
4
votes
3answers
111 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: ...
6
votes
2answers
200 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
99 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
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1answer
383 views

what is the meaning of 腹んばいになって?

What is the meaning of 腹んばい and 腹んばいになって? Also, is it read 「はらんばい」? I understand that 腹んばい悪い seems to mean 'get mad' (腹が立つ), but this other usage seems like it isn't about anger. Here is the ...
9
votes
2answers
141 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
163 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
127 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 : ...
4
votes
2answers
168 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
181 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
212 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"?
2
votes
2answers
183 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
176 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" ...
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1answer
145 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
233 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
223 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
104 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
270 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 ...
21
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
126 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
67 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
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1answer
918 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
85 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
147 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
135 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
387 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
103 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?