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Today in a comment on a Japanese forum I said:

日本語には主に「漢語」、「和語」、「外来語」三つの語彙体系があります。漢語というのは中国語から借用された語彙体系です。例:漢語、高校、勉強。 二文字の言葉はほとんど漢語です、カタカナ語がほとんど外来語のように。ファン:外来語。質問:漢語。分かる:和語。

Then someone said I was wrong (yeah literally said 「違います」):

音読みの熟語の多くが漢語ですよ。湯桶読みや重箱読みの熟語は和語です。

They are a native speaker, but I thought I'd read quite a bit on this and I was confident enough to write a retort. But on second thought I am not that certain. I am not sure if my statement「二文字の言葉はほとんど漢語」was accurate. I have read relevant wiki pages in both languages and some Japanese sites, but still haven't found a definitive answer to this.

My understanding is there are a lot of two-character words coined in Japan that later found their way to China and became part of the modern Chinese language. So does it mean most 訓読み, 湯桶読み, 重箱読み words are 和語? If possible, please include authoritative sources.

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    From what I know, 湯桶読み and 重箱読み both fall under 和製漢語, which is arguably not 和語 because it usually refers 大和言葉 which are not derived from Chinese or other foreign loan words. I'm not too sure though, so maybe I'm missing something too? – Shurim Jan 11 at 6:19
  • @Shurim Yeah that's what I thought too. Several sources including Wiki all seem to converge on: 和語=大和言葉 and its defining features, which quite clearly set them apart from 湯桶読み and 重箱読み. But I have yet to find a source that states unequivocally which category 湯桶読み and 重箱読み fall under. – Eddie Kal Jan 11 at 6:23
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I don't know the "authoritative definition", but according to Japanese Wikipedia, 重箱/湯桶 words are not kango:

「雑木」を「ぞうき」と読むような重箱読みや、「夕刊」を「ゆうかん」と読むような湯桶読みは、和語と漢語を複合させた混種語(和漢混淆語)であり、漢語の範疇ではない。

I think this explanation is natural. They are hybrid words (混種語). Hybrids are hybrids, and you should not force them into the classic three categories.

  • ケーキ屋: gairaigo-wago hybrid
  • カップ麺: gairaigo-kango hybrid
  • 重箱: kango-wago hybrid
  • 折れ線グラフ: wago-kango-gairaigo hybrid

there are a lot of two-character words coined in Japan that later found their way to China and became part of the modern Chinese language.

This is true, but 和製漢語 normally refers to on-only compounds newly coined by Japanese people, such as 自転車 and 野球.

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