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The contrastive pair made by 山賊 (brigand) and 海賊 (pirate) works pretty well on a mountainous island, where there are few other places for banditry. But if the words are of Chinese origin, this symmetry works less well (China had plains and probably brigands there too). So is this contrast between 山 and 海 a mere coincidence?

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    Um, I'm not too sure what you mean by how they contrast... But judging from the Chinese Wikipedia's article on banditry: zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%9C%9F%E5%8C%AA#%E5%8F%83%E8%A6%8B it's more common to call pirates 海盜. Note there's other stuff like 馬賊 – Ringil Apr 4 at 21:28
  • Well, we also have other words like 野盗 in Japanese. – broccoli forest Apr 5 at 4:03
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    There is no reason why these words should be "contrastive" or "symmetrical". If they looked like a "symmetrical pair" to you, I think it's a mere coincidence. 空賊 (sky pirate) is a popular concept in fiction. – naruto Apr 7 at 5:56

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