Questions tagged [etymology]

語源. The study of the origin of words and the historical development of their meanings. Sometimes used for kanji as well; we currently don't have a separate tag for character origins.

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Iterative / repetitive る evolving from classical 連体形【れんたいけい】

This is somewhat related to the discussion of classical auxiliary verb ふ, mentioned in the answer to snailboat's question, What is the わ in 忌まわしい and 嘆かわしい?. Another apparent iterative / repetitive ...
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What is the reason for the odd vowel values of Japanese ココア?

I've done a bit of digging, and for the life of me, I cannot find any clear record or explanation for why Japanese ココア is pronounced the way it is. Sources researched to date: Lots of different ...
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Origin of 「~ にとって」?

I just encountered the 「~ にとって」 construction, as in: 「私にとって家族は大切です。」- "Family is important to me". I think I understand what it's supposed to mean. However, I couldn't find any information about the ...
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Why use 一本 in the expression 一本取る

I was watching an episode of ファニエスト外語学院 on judo. At 6:26, the judoka remarked how his opponent ボビー could win him just by his horrid face, saying 「顔で一本取られた」って感じです. I am interested in understanding why ...
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Etymology of 打ち合わせる

How come 打ち合わせる means “to arrange a meeting” or “to agree on something”. I clearly see the 合わせる part signaling an agreement. Yet however I can’t see where the 打つ part became something other than “to ...
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What is the origin and meaning of the street names 一年坂, 二年坂 and 三年坂 in Higashiyama, Kyoto?

Obviously "1-year hill", etc., but what is the context of that? And sometimes we see it spelled with 念 (nen) or 寧 (nei) instead of 年 (nen). Why is that, and which one would be correct?
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Why are there so many カ行、サ行、ラ行五段活用 verbs?

If you go into a dictionary like Weblio, and you look through their list of verbs, you'll see that each of the consonant 行s of 五段 are in separate categories. However, there are a ton of カ行、サ行、ラ行 verbs,...
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Why do Latin letters have English pronunciations in Japanese?

The Latin letters A–Z are used in Japan today and they each have a name just like in English. Take the first five Latin letters, A–E. Source: https://jisho.org A 【エイ】【エー】 B 【ベー】【ビー】 C 【シー】 D【ディ】【ディー】 ...
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爵 how do the 'elements' combine to result in 'baron'

The 4 elements of this japanese kanji are understood, but I cannot see/intuit any connection between them that might result in the concept of 'baron'. Can anyone shed some light on this mystery?
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Questions about の→ん contraction, でござる→でございます shift

【原文】Original version 各これらの語の特徴はいつからなの?何時代ですの? 第一、「のです」と「なのです」を書いて「んです」と「なんです」を書かなかったことはいつからなの? 第に、「でござる」を書いて「でございます」を書かなかったこともいつからなの? 私の日本語がよくないですと、すみません! Edited version I have two questions ...
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Why is する's potential form できる?

Godan verbs have the potential form える, while ichidan verbs and 来る use られる for both the passive and the potential. する also has the passive される, why isn't that or something like すれる used as its ...
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Is there any continuity behind these verb endings?

In Japanese the seems to be a lot of reoccurring verb endings. Some basic ones are fairly easy to understand, like 動く vs 動かす, here it looks like あ plus す is used to indicate acting upon something ...
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Understanding japanese verb suffixes

I recently learned the meaning of the verb suffixes す, む and ぶ (respectively to do, to seem like or to indicate volition, to act like). I would have two questions : Does every verb ending with す can ...
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What do the names 不二夫 and 不二雄 mean?

I am from Hong Kong. I know Chinese language. I know very little about Japnanese language. My question is - What do the names 不二夫 and 不二雄 mean? Do they mean "loyal man/hero"? Links to ...
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121 views

Why do some endings have no verbs for them? I.e. ず・ぷ・ゆ

There seem to be a limited number of u-row characters that do not have verbs associated with them, and I'm curious why some of them do not exist. There once were ふ verbs, but there are no ぷ、ず、ゆ、づ ...
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What is the etymology of さて, and why are the kanji 偖・扠・扨 used for it?

This is a relatively simple question: what is the etymology of さて, and why are the kanji 偖・扠・扨 used for it?
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What does Kenneth Henshall mean by "X is used phonetically to express Y"?

Henshall seems to have a quite specific idea about how many phonetic elements end up in characters, which diverges from explanations I find online, but I'm not sure I'm reading him correctly. ...
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Etymology of 山賊

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 ...