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I stumbled upon this way of referring to women that was apparently used in pre-war Japan。I can't remember where I found it, or what was said about it's name or purpose, just that it went something like this:

1) Take a girls name, let's say 柿子(カキ・コ)。

2) Remove the suffix syllable, in this 子、making 柿(カキ)。

3) Lastly, append a prefixing お、making お柿(オ・カキ)。

Not 100% sure if I got that right, but if I did: what exactly is this form called? When was it used? And, what kind of relationship does it describe?

Also, would 日本人 today know about this form, or is it quite niche?

Update: Found the reference I originally got this from, go to the 'female names' section of this wiki page, near the bottom; also, it's pre-war Japan, not specifically 江戸時代。

With this, could ya'll elaborate on what it's describing, as the article in question gives no names, and only a rough, un-nuanced explanation.

  • I don't know anything about this but maybe here is something relevant ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/… (starting at "1900年、小泉八雲は") – siikamiika May 3 '17 at 21:29
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    What you heard is plausible in the first place. Names that end with 子 is rare among ordinary people in that period. – user4092 May 4 '17 at 0:29
  • I just remember reading about this somewhere; but, I just can't remember what it's called or what it was used for. – Tirous May 4 '17 at 0:52
  • Your #1, #2, #3 seem to me coming from different traditions, not usually interchangeable. – broccoli forest May 4 '17 at 2:48
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In the Edo period and the early Meiji period, prefixing a name with お was common but ~子 was not.

If a girl's real name was かき, for example, she introduced herself saying "(I am) かき", and other people called her おかき. While naming ~子 for common people gradually became popular in the early 20th century, calling them お~ became unpopular and outdated.

In those days there must be people whose real names were ~子 and whose nicknames were お~, but it's not a single phenomenon as you described.

I'm not aware of the specific name for this convention.

EDIT: Ordinary Japanese people recognize this as an old naming convention. It's often seen in samurai TV dramas and anime. For example おしん and おキヌ. But modern people may tend to regard お not as a prefix but as a part of her name. People today sometimes also add -さん/-ちゃん (おしんさん, おキヌちゃん) because calling someone おキヌ would sound like impolite 呼び捨て to modern speakers. I think I mostly see お- names in dramas set in the 15 to early 20 centuries, but I'm not very sure how it was used in reality.

  • Thx, lad. Tho, if you could update your answer to reflect the update that would be awesome. – Tirous May 4 '17 at 3:50

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