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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

2
votes
1answer
105 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
votes
2answers
465 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

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 ...
5
votes
2answers
195 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
votes
2answers
187 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
370 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
votes
1answer
124 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
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 ...
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 ...
13
votes
2answers
518 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 ...
14
votes
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 ...
4
votes
1answer
119 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). ...
0
votes
0answers
148 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, ...
1
vote
1answer
287 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
150 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 ...
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 ...
10
votes
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?
5
votes
1answer
210 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
129 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
157 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
68 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
votes
1answer
136 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
votes
1answer
376 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?
2
votes
1answer
256 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
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 ...
1
vote
1answer
145 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?
0
votes
2answers
137 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
votes
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
votes
1answer
600 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 ...
15
votes
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 ...
3
votes
1answer
308 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
13k 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
votes
1answer
101 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
votes
1answer
368 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
votes
1answer
200 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
152 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
votes
1answer
143 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
144 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
226 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
votes
3answers
895 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. ...
4
votes
2answers
484 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", ...
7
votes
2answers
217 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
votes
1answer
142 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
529 views

Does なんて = なんと (いう)?

I know that なんて is a contraction of なんと, but has it also picked up the いう in its meaning? Because なんて means something, and I feel like 何という, which means "something called" (right?) could have just ...
12
votes
3answers
5k views

About writing numbers using Japanese numerals vs using Arabic numerals

I noticed that even though Japanese language has kanji characters for numbers (e.g. 十、百、千、万 etc), there are many places where Arabic numerals are used instead, for example, prices for shop items are ...
5
votes
2answers
471 views

Is Japanese one of the Buddhist canonical languages?

The languages of oriental Buddhist traditions, be it Theravada or Mahayana, do not always provide complete and entire canonical texts. Up to now, I am aware of Pali, Chinese and Tibetan versions of ...
13
votes
1answer
481 views

Japanese/Chinese numbers usage timeline

Japanese uses both native and Chinese numbering numbering systems, the Sino-Japanese pronunciations being いち, に, さん, etc. and the native being ひと, ふた, み, etc. For the most part they are used for ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Did the Japanese have a word for surrender before WWII?

I had always thought that the Japanese didn't have a word for surrender before WWII. It seemed to be plausible given their culture. However, I can't seem to find any solid evidence of this. Is it just ...
5
votes
3answers
213 views

What's the relationship between 'e' and 'wa' in some words?

Can someone explain how 'e' and 'wa' are related in some words / 音便? Presumably the 'e' was originally the obsolete ゑ since it's in the ワ行. Some examples: 上(うえ) ←→ 上着(うわ・ぎ) 声(こえ) ←→ ...
14
votes
2answers
485 views

Exceptional compounding forms

There are a number of Japanese words which have distinct compounding forms: -a/-e alternation: 天・雨、酒、上、風、目 — many examples. -u/-i alternation: 神([神]{かむ}[集]{つど}ふ)、月([月]{つく}[読]{よみ}) -o/-i alternation: ...