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Now I know what you may be thinking when I pose a question like this, but I do have a reason to wonder.

Work with me for a bit. When did the word "有り難う" come into use, could it have been birthed in the Yamato language? Did it come with the influx of Chinese cultural influence?

This is a question I ask my students in order to get them to think about Japanese objectively. The Portuguese arrived in Japan in 1543. How does one say thank you in Portuguese? Thank you in Portuguese is "obrigado" a slight resemblance with the Japanese expression. Is it a pure coincidence, probably. Could the foriegn influence merely have increased the popularity of "ありがとう" over time? Maybe.

What is an explanation that can disprove a direct relationship between the Portuguese and Japanese expression?

marked as duplicate by naruto, l'électeur, macraf, Community Feb 9 '18 at 23:38

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    Related (or duplicate) japanese.stackexchange.com/a/5481/9831 – Chocolate Feb 9 '18 at 10:15
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    May I ask, what is the purpose of asking the same question on this site? Are you trying to learn something, or are you trying to test us? As a professional, you're supposed to know not only the answer itself but also academic methods to reach the answer. I think the linked question above is enough to almost everyone (it can be obtained from simple googling anyway), but I'm not sure if it will satisfy you because I'm not sure what you want or how much you already know about this. – naruto Feb 9 '18 at 11:54
  • This question along with other digs at the language is what I like to do to keep my students on edge. You can think of it like archeologists at a research dig, you see something interesting and you take it seriously until what you are excavating is proven uninteresting. I have already done research on this, and even though the possibility of there being any correlation diminishes the more I dig, it is still a great experience. You end up reading up on and learning aspects of the language or historical tidbits you may have missed before. I apologize for apparent similarities to past posts. – Black Cable Feb 9 '18 at 12:42

What is an explanation that can disprove a direct relationship between the Portuguese and Japanese expression?

If you're asking for proof that there is no indirect relationship in the popularity of usage due to Portuguese influence it would be pretty hard. As far as there being no direct relationship, the usage of a variation of 有り難う can apparently be found prior to any significant Portuguese presence in the country. Early Buddhist sutras contain the expression, however, so it's link to Chinese cultural influence is highly suggested. Who knows, however, whether or not there existed a similar word previous to this influence used to convey appreciation?

The likelihood of Obrigado having an influence on the Japanese word 有り難う is considered unlikely. I would suggest that this common view on the subject be accepted unless you have some substantial reason to doubt it and have a masochistic streak.

  • Excellent answer my friend, I actually do accept it as highly unlikely but I can't help myself as a linguist when some interesting connections are found regardless of probability. This type of work is a great way to get students to think outside their language, and at least to me very entertaining. Have a great day! – Black Cable Feb 9 '18 at 12:33

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