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歴史. The origins and changes over time of the features and characteristics of Japanese in its spoken and written forms.

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82 views

Why is あすぶ an “out-dated or obsolete” kana usage for 遊ぶ?

I saw this note on the jisho.org page for 遊ぶ: Other forms 遊ぶ 【あすぶ】 Notes あすぶ: Out-dated or obsolete kana usage. And I'm curious what this means - did it used to be read this way? Or do ...
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1answer
136 views

Loanwords related to science

I speak fluent English, Ukrainian and Russian. And I also have experience learning German and Japanese. As an avid language learner, I've been reflecting on what the languages have in common, their ...
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2answers
134 views

衰えるという言葉の由来は何ですか?

For instance, とじる and しめる. とじる means an activity or a show has finished so "the door is closed". This word is used in ending or closing something like 傘をとじる, 本をとじる. しめる means to tie the bag tight ...
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What's the original japanese word for door, other than the loanword ドア?

I assume that ドア is a loanword from English, unless it's a big coincidence, yet, it's in the top 200 most used Japanese words by frequency in a Japanese words by frequency list. What's the original ...
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2answers
110 views

What is the subtext of this situation?

Here is a paragraph from Yukio Mishima's 憂国 - "Patriotism" which I understand relatively well, but miss the point of the whole scene. So I don't need a translation but an explanation about the subtext ...
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1answer
103 views

the meaning and use of the word 殺素 today

I'm trying to understand some paper about Udagawa Youan and chemistry in Japan and I have a big problem with 殺素. It's means all chemistry elements which can kill or mayby only radioactive? Or mayby it'...
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2answers
536 views

Unknown kana in a late C19th address cartouche

Given their visual form, I am uncertain about two kana (the 5th and 6th characters) in a late C19th cartouche. It names an artist's address: Asakusa-ku [... ...]suji chō gojūhachi banchi / gakō / ...
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1answer
175 views

What is the origin of the foreign word サクランボ?

サクランボ means cherry in English. However, it is different from the direct conversion of cherry, チェリー. What is the origin of this word? Which language does it originate?
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2answers
245 views

Does the etymology of 星 suggest the japanese/chinese knew the sun was a star?

星 contains the radical 日 meaning sun/day. This makes sense from a modern understanding, as it is well known that the sun was a star. However, it appears this has only been known since the 19th century,...
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1answer
108 views

What is the difference between ばんごはん and よるごはん?

I looked at two different sentences: 六時半に母とばんごはんをつくりました。(At 6:30, I made dinner with my mother.) よるごはんのあと家族とえいがをみました。(After dinner, I watched a movie with my family.) In both sentences, ...
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58 views

What do we know about vowel variations such as 雨 read as あめ/あま

There are several words which have vowel variations. This seems like it could be a fossilization of morphological processes in an older version of Japanese. How much do we know about these processes? ...
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1answer
149 views

いる/える Godan Verb Rules?

For words like 帰ります is there a specific reason they're Godan instead of Ichidan in any case? Things like a change from an historical pronunciation of the word, grammar relating to the radicals of the ...
3
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1answer
118 views

Why is 河原 in 河原町 pronounced “Kawara” as opposed to the expected “Kawabara/Kawawara”?

The Kawaramachi St in Kyoto is spelled with 河原, /kawa/ and /hara/. I'd suspect the two inner syllables to be merged into one mora at some point in history, but do we have a record of when that ...
4
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1answer
150 views

The yomikata of 十三

This has been obsessing me for quite a while. While 十三 is normally pronounced ジュウサン, it is often pronounced ジュウゾウ in people's names and also pronounced ジュウソウ in names of places. I am wondering how ...
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2answers
151 views

Transcribing iteration marks: kunojiten , くの字点

The iteration marks 々, ヽ, ヾ, ゝ, ゞ are slightly smaller than standard kana, and are often seen in print when a contemporary scholar is transcribing text, a printmaker's seal, etc. My question relates ...
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2answers
144 views

'to appear': arawareru, arawaruru, and arawaru

Arawareru, あらわれる: "to appear, to come in sight, to become visible, to materialize, to manifest." It looks as if arawareru can be written: 現れる, 現われる, 表れる, 表われる, 顕れる, 顕われる (Readings: 現 = gen, ken, ...
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2answers
349 views

Attempts to distinguish English “L” and “R” sounds using (extended) katakana

Katakana can represent many foreign sounds that do not exist in native Japanese words, either by using special characters such as ヴ or by using special katakana combinations such as フュ. They are ...
0
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1answer
133 views

Is 雷装 a synonym for 魚雷?

During reading of some Japanese Wikipedia articles (e.g. 北上, 重雷装艦) I encountered the compound 雷装{らいそう}, which I have been unable to find a definite explanation of. In their descriptive texts you will ...
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1answer
102 views

What are the origins of “ありがとう”? [duplicate]

Now I know what you may be thinking when I pose a question like this, but I do have a reason to wonder. Work with me for a bit. When did the word "有り難う" come into use, could it have been birthed in ...
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1answer
199 views

i am confusesd as to what historical present tense is, when it is used, etc

I understand that historical present tense is basically a tense that uses "present tense to describe past events/actions more vividly and lively..." - Chocolate Doing my own research into possible ...
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1answer
101 views

How do you use comparatives for Japanese adjectives?

I am currently writing a section about the Japanese writing system. I have previously stated that Japanese was originally written completely in Kanji. However, people found it very difficult. ...
3
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1answer
134 views

Youon digraphs as a single character?

Was there ever any practice of writing youon digraphs as a single character (taking up the same amount of space as a monograph), and if not would that be a good idea? e.g. ハロウィーン or ハロウイーン instead of ...
2
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1answer
119 views

Historically, how would a military lord and his direct subordinate address each other? [closed]

I am currently writing a short story, for a text prompt demanding I set my plot among medieval Japan's nobility, but I am unfamiliar with older honorifics. The main dialogue takes place between a ...
2
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1answer
163 views

Origin of じゃ as contraction of では

What is the origin of the contraction では→じゃ? I googled around for a bit, but I wasn't able to find any answer at all.
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2answers
404 views

Why are Japanese characters not used in equations?

Why do Japanese texts/scientific articles not use kana/kanji in their equations? For example f(x) = x + 1 instead of f(あ) = あ + 1 I don't see the Cyrillic alphabet in equations either. Did ...
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1answer
162 views

Origin of the verb 茶化す?

Does anyone know the origin of the verb 茶化す, which translates as 'to tease, to make fun of, to kid'? Is is somehow related to "breaking teacups"?
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1answer
310 views

At what time did furigana start being used?

I was wondering if anyone could tell me when furigana started being used in Japan? I'm writing a research paper, and I've been searching and digging around for the answer but can't find it anywhere. ...
8
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2answers
376 views

Academic/historic attempts to create an alternative writing system similar to Hangul?

I was reading upon Japanese writing system history and found out there were several attempts to abolish the use of 漢字 in favor of kana or romaji, e.g. after the WWII. All of those failed, and the only ...
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2answers
396 views

首 when fired from a job: etymology?

First question ever here. :D So, I hear a lot in media, when someone is fired from a job, normally they refer to 首 as being fired, or firing someone, and might sometimes make the gesture of getting ...
2
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1answer
209 views

What happened to original, pre-Kanji, Japanese words?

Some of the most common words in Japanese seem to have their origin in Chinese: 会議、日本、世界、先生、。。。 The evidence for this is, as far as I know, the fact that these words are written with characters, ...
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3answers
351 views

Japanese kanjis and Chinese characters: a request for comparative stroke order

Because the first stroke order for Chinese characters was codified in Han period, the sequence of strokes was a subject to change during the time. If my memory serves me right, even simplified and ...
6
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1answer
221 views

Kun Yomi of Chinese origin, like 竹 (take)

I have came across an English book on Ancient Japanese languages. (Sorry I forgot the book name) In the book, it says some Kun Yomi of Kanji actually come from early contact of Chinese languages. ...
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2answers
374 views

Reduction of the diphthong “ou” to “ō” in Middle and Modern Japanese

I noticed that in the word 子牛 both "o" and "u" are pronounced while in the word 格子 there is a long "ō" and they are, respectively, written in rōmaji (Hepburn romanization) koushi and kōshi. What I'd ...
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1answer
789 views

When was this Japanese standard and why this is so different from modern Japanese?

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325 views

Old Japanese dates

Occasionally I read texts on Japanese history and always struggle to figure out whether the dates are in the old or new system, specifically whether something like 四月 corresponds to April as in the ...
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3answers
321 views

Why are “loanwords” written in katakana?

I am interested in learning why katakana was chosen to represent foreign words.
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2answers
703 views

この曲の意味を暗示する歌詞の特定性について

念のため述べておきますが、この質問は太平洋戦争に関係するものであり、気分を害するつもりは一切ありませんが、その可能性のある内容が含まれています。 とある日本のロックバンド、「9mm Parabellum Bullet」が2007年に「Sundome」という曲を出しましたが、歌詞は以下のとおりです: 頭ごなしに叱らないで 黒い朝日を描いたこと 手付かずのままで残されてしまった 真っ白い絵の具 ...
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1answer
77 views

Can anybody here substantiate this anecdote in V. I. Arnold's book “Yesterday and long ago”?

It can be found on page 124 of the edition I own and it goes as follows: The abstract idea of a number (independent of what is counted) is not evident, and abstract numbers do not exist in some ...
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1answer
204 views

History and etymology of Japanese onomatopoeia

I've been wondering about the patterns of Japanese onomatopoeia and their etymologies. Perhaps you could help me figure it out or link me to a useful bibliography that might. The first of these ...
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3answers
3k views

No word for “time” until 1871?

In a German newspaper article an interviewed professor says: For a long time the Japanese didn't have any interest in clocks: Until 1871, there hadn't even been a word for time and therefore no ...
13
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1answer
389 views

Why do we believe that 神 is likely to be a loan from Ainu?

I recently read the document "Old Japanese Loanwords" by Frellesvig, where he states: OJ kamwi ~ kamu- 'spirit, deity' may well be borrowed from an ancestor of Ainu kamuy 'bear; deity'. Ever since ...
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1answer
192 views

Origin of -masen?

I understand that polite forms like yomimasu are actually (or originated as) infinitive yomi + auxiliary verb masu in its plain non-past form. Then past form yomimashita is just infinitive yomi + ...
3
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1answer
307 views

What are the original names of the months in Japanese?

Currently, ichigatsu, nigatsu, sangatsu.....however the original names of the months were different than what is spoken today. I want to learn the original names of the months.
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4answers
469 views

How do Japanese make language sound old (e. g. in historical dramas)?

When English speakers try to make a text sound old (like in historical dramas), they for example use "thou" together with the "-st" verb ending. What's the equivalent in Japanese, i.e. what kind of ...
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1answer
284 views

What's the origin of 助 (saving)?

I am a beginner in Japanese and learning Kanji through Anki (Kanji Damage deck). I came across a word 助言{じょげん} while learning 言. I want to know from where does the 助 kanji come from? I searched for ...
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1answer
493 views

Are Japanese counter words still being created?

That is, are counters (助数詞) an open class of words? If yes: Is there an example of a counter that was added recently (say, post-Taishō) and is now in current use by a community of speakers (i.e. not ...
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1answer
193 views

Why was つ originally used to mark consonant gemination? When was that?

I can't find the answer anywhere. It seems that in manyougana consonant gemination was not marked in any way. And before the 1946 reform the normal size つ was used instead of the current smaller one....
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3answers
382 views

How was a Japanese 'common/standard language' chosen?

Japan, like most places, is full of dialects/topolects. Wikipedia (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Japan) says Tokyo dialect considered standard Japanese The article doesn't get into ...
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1answer
96 views

Print with Admiral Matthew Perry flanked by officers

I am interested to know at least the beginning few lines of Hiragana in the attached print. It depicts Admiral Matthew Perry. The print is titled Gasshukoku suishi teitoku kōjōgaki (Oral statement by ...
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2answers
323 views

くらい and ほど — Where do they come from?

I've searched for a while now but haven't really found anything that answers my question. I would like to know where ほど and くらい come from and how they got to mean such different things. I know that ...