I am a very beginner in Japanese and not very good in English, so I hope my questions will be clear enough.
I'm learning some kanji and I've been through a reflection when comparing some kanji between them, with French and with English. I need your help to understand how it works - it's about something like "what is a word" in Japanese. Yeah I know I'm not very intelligible but I'm still thinking about it, so it's not even clear for me.
I'll drop my reflection here and hope you will help me making all this understandable.
I'll start with French-English comparisons.
In English there is the word hound which is a dog for hunting. In French, we don't have a word for that. We have a locution: chien de chasse which means hunting dog. That means in an English-French dictionary, you will find "hound = chien de chasse", but in a French-English dictionary you won't find "chien de chasse = hound". You will find "chien" then somewhere in the description you will find "- de chasse = hound, hunting dog ; - d'aveugle = guide dog ; d'arrêt = pointer ; etc.". Keep that in mind.
Another thing: in French we have the word gendarme which is sort of a policeman. It comes from gens d'armes which means something like "people with weapons". But nowadays it's a single word, you could say "un gendarme sans arme" (a policeman without any weapon) without anyone being like "it's nonsens, don't call him gendarme if he has no arme!", because the origin of the word does not matter. Keep that in mind too.
OK so now let's talk about Japanese.
Niwatori is for chicken. It was made, before Japanese had writing, from niwa (garden) and tori (bird), because basically a chicken is a bird we keep in a garden. Questions start here:
- is niwatori a word like gendarme, which was made from two words but nowadays it doesn't matter, or is it a locution like hunting dog and chien de chasse?
- if it's a locution, why is it not niwa no tori? I thought it wasn't possible in Japanese to create locutions like in English.
- can you make words like yamatori, kawatori, niwaneko or whatever you want to do?
- can you say niwa no niwatori?
I heard someone saying hana no hanabira:
- isn't hanabira already a flower petal or is it only a petal so you can say hana no hanabira and you could say yume no hanabira (I'm such a poet)? Or would you say yumebira?
After that, I saw the word yagi, which is a goat. This word is made with two kanji: yama and hitsuji. So the same questions apply to yagi, but do the same answers do?
- does it really mean goat or does it mean mountain sheep which can be understood as goat (slight difference)?
- is it really a word, can we call it a word, or is it more like a locution?
Can we create new words with many kanji or do we have to use no if we want to express new things like "a sheep from a mountain is a goat"? Example: I want to say a cat from a forest is a tiger, can I say morineko or is it mori no neko?
Thanks, I know it's hard to understand, plus with Japanese it's never the same between "saying" and "writing" (it's like you write chien de chasse but read it hound so you write three words but pronounce one, wow, does the question "is it a word?" still have any sens?).