Questions tagged [history]

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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3
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2answers
129 views

Translation struggles - Kuroshio Current being mentioned in a patriotic song

I'm trying to make sense of an old Japanese patriotic song 五・一五事件 昭和維新行進曲 陸軍の歌, and there's a line that contains a reference to the Kuroshio Current. The event this song was written about (the so-...
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154 views

で in the copula である

I have always wondered where the で in ~である (and ~でございます) comes from. In the answer to the question 「です」, what is it really? Is my analysis correct?, Eiríkr Útlendi states that the で in ~である is the ...
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1answer
127 views

Origin of the small っ

There are several uses of the small っ: Compounds with the first kanji ending in つ or ending in consonant + 'u' with the second kanji beginning with the same consonant: the elision of the 'u' happens ...
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857 views

Are on’yomi words loanwords?

this is probably a silly question, but since words with multiple kanji are usually read with on’yomi would that effectively make most japanese vocabulary loanwords? like 森林 or 図書館?i understand ...
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98 views

Elongated お in the volitional verb form

In native Japanese words (that I know of at least) like 通り and 大きい, to elongate the お-sound, another お is added when written in Hiragana (instead of う like in Sino-Japanese words). However, it just ...
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0answers
76 views

Sleeping verbs and まで vs までに

So I was wondering, pretty much all of the sleep related verbs switch meaning with まで and までに. Was it always like that? Or was there a time when 8時まで寝る meant "going to bed at 8"? Or take the even ...
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209 views

What is the etymology of this kanji 厚?

In this wiktionary page https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/厚 the etymology for the kanji 厚 is not complete: they wrote that it's an ideogrammic compound but they didn't write the component functions. I ...
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Why are phone calls cylindrical?

何本か重要な電話をかけ、... He made several important phone calls and ... Originally part of this question but separated due to popular? demand. Why is the counter 本 used in reference to phone calls?
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460 views

Why is there a difference between the hand drawn 道 and the pc font one?

I was studying this kanji and looked at the strokes order to figure out how to write it, only to realize the difference between the pc font one and the diagram. Why is the 3 look-alike only on hand ...
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1answer
1k views

Why is ostracism called 村八分【むらはちぶ】?

While doing some reading of old questions, I stumbled upon the term 村八分【むらはちぶ】, which is apparently means ostracism. I'm curious what the 8 parts (八分) are and how this relates to ostracism.
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165 views

Why お寺 but 神社 (not ご神社)?

Why the difference between Buddhist temples, お寺, and Shinto shrines, 神社? (The latter does not take ご神社, お神社 or 御神社.)
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182 views

の: nominalization vs. 'the one that…'

の can be used as a noun with a relative clause in what appears to be two separate situations. Referring to a thing or person, e.g. '来たのは田中です。' ('The one who came is Tanaka.') Nominalizing a verb (as ...
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186 views

What is the etymology of Honshū (本州)?

Honshū is the main island in Japan (so it could be called something like 大州 or 広州). But it is also common in cosmogonies to say the gods created our land first and foremost, and the rest of the planet ...
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1answer
99 views

Variations in polite negations: ありません, ないです, -ません

Negations that consistently take -ない in the plain form show differences in the polite version: 食べない -> 食べません で(は)ない -> で(は)ありません but 大きくない -> 大きくないです Why the inconsistency? Is it due to history?
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832 views

Why are Japanese fonts different to Chinese?

I’ve noticed that Japanese and Chinese writing tends to use different fonts. Japanese fonts tend use wider lines and more curves. Chinese fonts tend to use narrow angular lines and there are ...
5
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1answer
102 views

Appropriate terms for indigenous people

I'm often asked about my home country by Japanese people and wish to discuss the unique polynesian culture of the indigenous people there. How do I describe them in Japanese? I understand that this is ...
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1answer
147 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
165 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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154 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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118 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
108 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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581 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
197 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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372 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
208 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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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
479 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 ...
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1answer
6k views

Can someone identify this stamp in a Bible that allowed my roommate's Grandpa to keep it in a POW camp in WW2?

Can someone identify this stamp in a Bible that allowed my roommate's Grandpa to keep it in a POW camp in WW2? Normally Bibles would have been forbidden but apparently this stamp that was inspected ...
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1answer
123 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 ...
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1answer
193 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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168 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
224 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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500 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 ...
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1answer
171 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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112 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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367 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
121 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. ...
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1answer
145 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 ...
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1answer
139 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 ...
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1answer
177 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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523 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
179 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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409 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. ...
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591 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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748 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 ...
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1answer
269 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
472 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 ...
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1answer
265 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
535 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 ...