Is one derived from the other? 身近 means - amongst other definitions - "close/near to one(self)", so it's not that much of a leap to say that something near to you is a "short" distance away, and get 短い from that. Is there any truth to this, or is it just coincidental? Or this there some other kind of connection between these words?

  • Bonus Question: Does the correct spelling of 身近 use a or a ? Related Discussion
  • My guess is that it's coincidence. 身近 is probably spelt with a ぢ - 近 is ちか, and the ち undergoes 連濁. – Billy Jun 24 '13 at 18:23
  • You can find the kana spelling of 身近 in a dictionary. – snailplane Jun 24 '13 at 19:02
  • @snailboat: Obviously I've seen it both ways which is why I asked. – istrasci Jun 24 '13 at 19:34
  • @Billy: Except there are many words where does not 連濁 into , especially examples with or . – istrasci Jun 24 '13 at 19:39
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    @istrasci Both of your examples are on-yomi. – Zhen Lin Jun 24 '13 at 19:44

The historical spelling (歴史的仮名遣い) of 短い uses a じ instead of a ぢ, so this rules out the possibility of an etymological relationship between 短い and 身近.

  • Does that mean that up to the spelling reform in 1946, all spellings respected the etymological origin of a word? – Earthliŋ Jun 24 '13 at 19:21
  • Well, more precisely, there was a spelling reform in the Meiji era which restored spellings to etymological ones. Before that things were more haphazard. – Zhen Lin Jun 24 '13 at 19:28
  • Thanks, that is very interesting. Do you have any sources, or at least a name, for this reform? Presumably in your answer you assume that this reform didn't overlook みじかい... – Earthliŋ Jun 24 '13 at 19:37
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    You can read about it on Wikipedia. 短い (or rather, 短くて) is attested in the Tale of Genji, so presumably they have taken the spelling from there. – Zhen Lin Jun 24 '13 at 19:41

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