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何本か重要な電話をかけ、...
He made several important phone calls and ...

Originally part of this question but separated due to popular? demand.

Why is the counter 本 used in reference to phone calls?

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To be fair, 本 = 「細長いもの」is a really popular explanation (note that is does not imply anything about being round, I think that it is an usual extrapolation due to the fact that physical objects that are long and thin are usually cylindrical).

But many usages actually go against this explanation, or a least do not fall into that classification. Consider the following examples:

  • 子どもたちに三本のゲームを買ってきた。
  • 彼は三本の新しい企画に取り組んだ。
  • 今年は三本のコンサートに行ったよ。

As you can see, you really need to stretch your mind really far to find the thin, long thing here. At least I cannot find them...

I've made some quick research on the topic and there appears to be academical research on that topic (!). Like this one, where they distinguish 6 clusters of words to which 本 applies to.

(for the case of the phone, the "message" coming from letter thing seems plausible though.)

  • 1
    Nice find. The paper is way too difficult for me to read, but I managed to decode the summary table on page 86. – user3856370 Feb 10 at 9:09
1

Does THIS answer your question?

enter image description here enter image description here

Seems that there are a number of possible explanations though...

  1. Parts of the phone, or the phone itself were cylindrical

  2. Voice was transmitted via wires (long and thin)

  3. The idea of a "message" where a written letter would be rolled up into a cylinder (letter -> telegraph -> telephone)

  • 1
    +1 Looks convincing. I'll wait to see if anyone has other thoughts before accepting though. – user3856370 Feb 9 at 16:45
  • えっ、わかんない、、、なんで? – Chocolate Feb 9 at 16:46
  • @Chocolate Well I assumed the reasoning was that the old-style phone has lots of cylindrical components. – user3856370 Feb 9 at 16:48
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    え・・そこ? 回線を使ってるからかな?と思ってた・・ 電報も「一本」だし。。 – Chocolate Feb 9 at 16:54
  • 1
    昔の手紙が筒に巻いていて、「手紙→電報→電話」という説もありますね – sazarando Feb 9 at 17:07

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