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i just came upon 興業「こうぎよう」with definition given as “industrial enterprise”. I can’t determine the difference with 工業 (same pronunciation and also meaning industry) but don’t think they’re variant writings of the same word. can someone explain any nuance to me ?

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  • You're saying you think "industry" and "industrial enterprise" mean the same thing? – Leebo Dec 15 '20 at 10:54
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    same pronunciation -- different pitch accent, though. [こうぎょう]{LHHHH} for 興行, 興業, vs [こうぎょう]{HLLLL} for 工業, 鉱業 – Chocolate Dec 15 '20 at 15:09
  • thank you all. since i’m studying on my own the true oral pronunciation often unclear to me. – BPP Dec 16 '20 at 17:55
  • The entry has been corrected! – Igor Skochinsky Dec 16 '20 at 22:36
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    Regardless of its origin, the first thing that came to my mind after seeing 興業 is "typical yakuza front company names", and then "typical showbiz company names" (eg 吉本興業). – naruto Dec 18 '20 at 7:42
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In fact, the EDICT definition seems to be somewhat misleading here; I’ve submitted a proposal for correction. Here are several related homonyms with the same reading こうぎょう:

興業 promotion/encouragement of (new) industry (especially in 殖産興業 - Meiji era policy for promoting industrialization)

鉱業 mining industry

工業 industry, industrial

興行 show, performance, entertainment business.

It may help to check the meanings of individual kanji, for example:

興{おこ}る prosper, flourish

興{おこ}す promote, advance, revitalize

工{たくみ} artisan, craftsman

業{ぎょう} occupation, business, work

行{おこな}う perform, carry out

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  • A definition I see for 興業 is 新しく事業を興すこと。また、産業を盛んにすること。The second half of that definition lines up with "industrial enterprise" which means exactly that. So, I guess you could say the edict definition is incomplete, but I wouldn't call it incorrect. – Leebo Dec 15 '20 at 20:33
  • @Leebo “enterprise” to me is an organization/business, or some vague kind of undertaking/action, but not specifically to “make [something] prosperous”. You can maybe stretch the meaning like that but it’s not the interpretation that comes to my mind when I read “industrial enterprise”, so it’s at least misleading in my opinion. That said, English is not my native language so I may be missing some nuances in the terms. – Igor Skochinsky Dec 15 '20 at 20:54
  • thefreedictionary.com/… what you're referring to is equivalent to "an enterprise of an industrial nature" but that's not what the edict definition was referring to – Leebo Dec 15 '20 at 21:03
  • thanks, I was not familiar with this interpretation. If I'm reading it right, it seems to be a synonym for industrialization (i.e. global development of industry on a global scale) but 興業 seems to be more about promoting industry than the process of industrialization itself. – Igor Skochinsky Dec 15 '20 at 21:22
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    “industrial enterprise” is a bit nebulous. i’d already been given elsewhere the succinct answer that 興業 was more precisely “promotion of industry” and finding more uses of 興 (a kanji i was encountering for the first time) i’m getting a better feel for the term. – BPP Dec 16 '20 at 18:14
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They are very different words except for pronunciation (which is also different in accent as pointed in a comment above).

興業 derives from an old slogan 殖産興業 (lit. "advance production, raise business") and means "launching new business", or in today's word, venture business. I guess the English word enterprise had a similar connotation, while it mostly refers to steadier corporation nowadays. It may be a biased opinion, but being a vague and good-sounding word, many yakuza front companies tend to use it in their trade names.

On the other hand, 工業 usually translates "industry", but more strictly, "manufacturing industry" (the secondary sector) that builds physical objects. For example, creating software isn't 工業. For a general sense "a sector of business" we use another word 産業 (e.g. 映画産業 "film industry").

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  • thank you for this great information, it’s the kind you can’t just find in a dictionary. i already well knew 工業 since i work in a factory and it’s one of the first “big words” i learned. the definition “industrial enterprise” fooled me because of the vagueness of “enterprise” but mainly because “industrial” isn’t broad like “industry”, it’s meaning is clearly secondary sector. – BPP Dec 18 '20 at 8:28

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