歴史. The origins and changes over time of the features and characteristics of Japanese in its spoken and written forms.

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How was the first Japanese-English dictionary made?

This question may not belong to this site. If so, please vote to close. My question is very simple: How was the first Japanese-English dictionary made? In other words, how could the author map ...
6
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3answers
2k views

Is there any merit to the claim that Japanese and Tamil are genetically related languages?

In India, regional nationalism is strongly tied to language. This is particularly the case in the Dravidian-speaking south, especially among speakers of Tamil - Tamil nationalists trot out all manner ...
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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 ...
12
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3answers
241 views

Why is this katakana not reversed?

Just saw this image about Nintendo on Kotaku: Clearly the company name, description, and location are written in traditional right-to-left orientation. Even かるた is right-to-left. So why is トランプ ...
7
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1answer
619 views

Native Japanese word for フリー

I wonder why all the translation engines show only the word フリー as a translation for the word "free". Why Japanese people had to borrow an english word? Wasn't there anything for free in Japanese ...
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5answers
2k views

Are there any old loanwords from Korean, especially any not written in katakana?

Given the close proximity and long history of interaction of various kinds within East Asia, the great influence of Chinese in both Japanese and Korean, and the similar structures of Japanese and ...
2
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1answer
92 views

Translation of 権現様: literally or not?

I am reading a book about the life of 国友一貫斎. For reference, the title is 「夢をまことに」. There is the following courtroom scene, in which reference is made to 権現様, a Shinto-Buddhist term for a god. The full ...
9
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149 views

When did 濁点 and 半濁点 come into use?

When did diacritic signs 濁点 and 半濁点 start to be used in the Japanese language?
7
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70 views

Origin of the pronunciations of 観音 and 漢音

The Japanese name for the deity Guanyin, 観音, seems as far as I can tell to be almost universally pronounced かんのん Kannon, and not かんおん Kan’on. The origin of the name, as Wikipedia correctly gives it, ...
3
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2answers
209 views

Origin of Natsume Soseki's Translation of “I love you”

Recently, while playing through Persona 4, I've learned that apparently Natsume Soseki translated the English phrase of "I love you" into 月が綺麗ですね。 and I, wondering if there was a source for ...
2
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1answer
127 views

What is the max number of kanji a jukugo can be made of?

So far I haven't seen any jukugo with more than 4 kanji. Is this a limit? Or some of them are made of more than 4 kanji? Also, I've seen jukugo made of other jukugo. Like 高速道路 is composed with two ...
14
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476 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
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1answer
96 views

Difference between Muromachi and Ashikaga

One of my books notes that the Muromachi and Ashikaga Periods, 室町時代 and 足利時代 respectively, can be used to name the same period of time (1333-1568), but I'm lost on what the difference is and when I ...
6
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2answers
216 views

What happened to the を sound?

Unlike ゑ and ゐ, を actually still exists. However, I've never heard of this letter actually being pronounced fully as 'wo'. It's kind of weird that there aren't any words with that letter, isn't it? ...
9
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2answers
197 views

How was Japanese animism referred to before 国家神道 (State Shinto) was created?

Pre-Meiji: What was Japanese animism popularly called before 国家神道 (State Shinto) was created in the early Meiji period (19th century)? Prior to that, was the word 「神道」 a common term among the ...
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2answers
462 views

Was “The Tale of Genji” really written completely or almost completely in hiragana?

My question is about the script of Genji Monogatari. It is easy to find many anecdotal claims that it was written in hiragana, and that this is explained by Chinese characters considered unsuitable ...
2
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1answer
161 views

History of Japanese “Vulgar” Vocabulary

This has been bothering me for a long time. I'm not sure which words are used in Japan in modern times for refering to things like sex, cursing, and going to the bathroom, and I don't know of a good ...
9
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1answer
239 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 ...
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2answers
331 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 ...
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557 views

Haphazard usage of katakana and hiragana for particles and okurigana

I'm looking at this picture of the 日米和親条約 (Kanagawa convention) from the late Edo period and it seems rather strange: It looks like the non-kanji parts are rather haphazardly written in katakana ...
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7answers
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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 ...
5
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1answer
146 views

Pattern in onyomi for middle Chinese -p and -ng finals

I've been thinking recently about patterns between onyomi and their respective Chinese counterparts (as presumably existed in middle Chinese and are now reflected across modern Chinese dialects). ...
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160 views

Were Japanese names ever anglicised?

Nowadays, Japanese people usually keep their names as is, except using the Latin alphabet, and having their given name before their surname, when they're in English-speaking countries. By contrast, ...
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1answer
293 views

What kind of script is it? (photo attached)

The marker is on the top of a hill on the way to Yawata Hachimangu in Kyoto Pref. The site seems rather not significant historically, there were no other related signs around. The top character is ...
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1answer
156 views

Why can の and が both mark subjects in relative clauses?

夢のある人 and 夢がある人 I understand that both have obviously the same meaning, but why is it also correct to use の, which, as I learned, has the function of either a possessive particle or of a ...
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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 ...
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3answers
7k views

When/why did 電話する replace 電話をかける?

In some older learning material I came across, they use 「電話をかける」 for "to make a telephone call". When/why did this come to be replaced by 「電話する」 in popular usage?
6
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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 ...
6
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1answer
173 views

Is modern day keigo borrowed from kansai-ben? Sources?

I have heard on various occasions that modern day keigo was borrowed from Kansai-ben. It states this on Wikipedia: Historically, extensive use of keigo (honorific speech) was a feature of ...
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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 ...
6
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1answer
140 views

What is the explanation for the archaic attributive particle が becoming a modern subject particle?

While reading though Haruo Shirane’s Classical Japanese: A Grammar, I came across the following passage: が started as an attributive case particle, became a subject particle, and then turned into ...
6
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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?
3
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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 ...
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1answer
159 views

Why did 摩羅 also come to mean penis? [duplicate]

Is there any further implication to be gleaned from this and how did this meaning come to be? Is there any suggestion that the male genitals are somehow an obstacle to enlightenment?
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2answers
152 views

Why words such as しばらく are almost always written in kana while words such as 石鹸 are usually in kanji?

"Almost" and "usually" here means that while "alternative" is definitely used, vast majority of people is still using the mentioned version. Just look at google results count! Also, note that kanji ...
8
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2answers
373 views

In 君が代, what's the function of の?

I've got a question about the two instances of の in 君が代: さざれ石の巌となりて 苔の生すまで First, is さざれ石の巌 to be interpreted as a boulder made of pebbles (analogous to, say, 木製の槍)? Second, is the の in ...
6
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1answer
792 views

Is Taito (たいと) (kanji/kokuji with the highest stroke count consisting of 84 strokes) legit and ever used?

Taito is mentioned as the kanji/kokuji with the highest stroke count consisting of 84 strokes in Wikipedia. Taito is composed of two kanji ("cloud" (雲) and "dragon" (龍) repeated three times each ...
3
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1answer
315 views

What is the etymology of 〜ません(でした)?

I have always been interested in the negative polite (〜ません) and negative past-polite (〜ませんでした) inflections of verbs. My understanding is that ます is an inflectable function word (助動詞), so I'm ...
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4answers
15k views

Why was both katakana and hiragana created?

Nowadays, katakana tends to be used for gairaigo and onomatopoeia, while hiragana tends to be used for native Japanese words. This is a slight simplification - more information is available here. ...
0
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1answer
108 views

Japanese writings in Brazil [closed]

I've seen these writings in the ground of Brazil. I've already tried to translate it with my friend but there are some complex kanji that we don't know. I'm very curious to know what they say, can ...
8
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1answer
381 views

What's the grammar of 持ちつ持たれつ?

持ちつ持たれつ (meaning approximately "supporting eachother") is commonly heard, but seems to be formed from some archaic grammar. I'm assuming it's an archaic form of 持って持たれて or something like that, but ...
8
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1answer
203 views

History of 馬 and 梅

I learned recently that two mora Sino-Japanese words using one character always end in /ki/, /ku/, /i/, /u/, /chi/, /tsu/, or /n/. However, I was also told that 馬【うま】 and 梅【うめ】 are Sino-Japanese. What ...
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1answer
158 views

Did the modern usage of katakana predate the Americans?

How long has katakana been used as today, to represent non-Japanese words, onomatopoeia et al.? But specifically, has this usage been around since before U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in Japan ...
4
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1answer
146 views

Origins of the Volitional Form

I was doing some reading, and I read that while the volitional form can be explained as coming from the 未然形 for う-verbs, it cannot be explained for る-verbs. (I'm sure I should be using better ...
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146 views

When did LOC adopt modified Hepburn?

If I look in Google Ngrams, I see that the transliteration "honbu", meaning HQ, basically didn't exist until 1964. But it didn't surpass "hombu" until 1976. I believe Modified Hepburn was introduced ...
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2answers
235 views

Development of なんか?

Is there anymore to the usage of なんか that isn't saying "something", but rather something like, or along the lines of? I know the two are very similar, but using なんか at the end of a sentence seems to ...
4
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3answers
958 views

How were hiragana/katakana influenced by syllabary writing systems?

Today, I was in English class, and I learned about language families and then writing systems. Of course, there is kanji, and ideographic system, but hiragana and katakana are both syllabary systems. ...
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518 views

Why is the kanji for luck the same as to carry?

Why is the kanji for うん(運) the same as the kanji for 運ぶ? Did the kanji just somehow end up being the same, or were the two meanings related somehow? All I can think of is some kind of "carrying luck", ...
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222 views

When was 歴史的仮名遣い standardized?

Enno Shioji's answer to my question about 直音表記 says (emphasis added) that: Historically there were multiple way to write a word, and this wasn't standardized. For example, some very old documents ...
6
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1answer
145 views

When/why would one write a word using 直音表記?

I looked up 釈迦 at goo辞書 and noticed that there were two alternate readings presented for this word: さか and しゃか. The さか reading is given as being 『「しゃか」の直音表記。』, so these two are clearly the same ...