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I'm working out my Japanese by trying to read everything around me, including food packages.

On my milk carton written inside a large arrow pointing to the spout is "あけぐち" in hiragana.

Obviously this is equivalent to English "open here", "pour here", "spout" etc, but I want to understand it literally, piece by piece, to improve my grammar knowledge and ability to make my own sentences, etc.

So is this a noun phrase made up of just 開{あ}け and 口{ぐち}?

Is the ~け okurigana for some kind of verb ending? Does it maybe change it from a verb to a noun so that it can enter into a compound with ぐち?

It seems not to be regarded as a word in its own right as its not in EDIC. Surprisingly Google Translate offers only "akeguchi"!

Or am I totally off the mark? What would be ways to translate it into English very literally?

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    I think いりぐち and でぐち have the same structure
    – HAL
    Mar 9, 2014 at 10:11
  • Good point! I didn't think of that. Then of course I never stopped to analyse how those are formed either. But I would think they are both accepted as words in their own right these days. Mar 9, 2014 at 10:19

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Would it surprise you if I told you that you are likely to have been using Japanese words of the same structure as 「開け口」 for years already --- 「[着物]{きもの}」,「[焼]{や}き[鳥]{とり}」, 「[食]{た}べ[物]{もの}」, etc.

The structure is "[連用形]{れんようけい} of a verb + Noun". It is as simple as that.

「[開]{あ}け[口]{ぐち}」= The 連用形 of the verb [開]{あ}ける, which is [開]{あ}け + The noun [口]{くち} = "opening mouth"

「[着物]{きもの}」= The 連用形 of the verb [着]{き}る, which is [着]{き} + The noun [物]{もの} = "wearing things"

For those unfamiliar with the consonant change occuring in くち⇒ぐち, it is called [連濁]{れんだく} : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rendaku

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  • It doesn't surprise me, but I guess I'm getting to a level of analysing things into their parts, a stage I always get to when learning languages. I don't know if everybody else goes through this stage? Running Google Translate over the Japanese Wikipedia article for "連用形" tells me it's called the "conjunctive form" in English - and this term indeed sounds familiar. For me the rendaku is the easy part even if I don't always remembering when typing. Other English terms for processes like this in many languages are "assimilation" and "sandhi". Mar 9, 2014 at 10:36
  • There's actually two common English terms: conjunctive form as mentioned, but also continuative form. Mar 9, 2014 at 20:36
  • couldn't resist, but hope this works: memegenerator.net/instance/47049021
    – yadokari
    Mar 11, 2014 at 0:25
  • Ah yes, pictures of words. Mar 11, 2014 at 0:30
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    @hippietrail Other English terms for the 連用形 you may run across include "infinitive" (Bloch, Martin) and "stem" (Jorden).
    – user1478
    Mar 12, 2014 at 13:29

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