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55

In Old Japanese (probably before 800 BC), the pronunciation of 「は」 (and indeed the entire ハ行) was PA, but it later changed to FA (more accurately, [ɸa], with a bilabial fricative), and this was the common pronunciation at least up to the 16th century (we know this since early Portuguese transliteration of Japanese words use the letter F where we would use H ...


39

Because the pronunciation was lost. "Wi" and "we" are still in some dialects, but standard Japanese does not have those sounds. These characters were just spelling. Similarly in English, we pronounce "through" as "thru" because the "gh" sound is long gone and "thru" is now a common variant spelling used in the US (I.E. Drive Thru) After World War II there ...


37

A few years ago I began to create a list. It is incomplete, but you can build from here. 湖 → 水海【みずうみ】 京 → 宮処【みやこ】 暁【あかとき】 → 明時 曙 → 明け仄 喉 → 飲門【のみと】 銅 → 赤金【あかがね】 胡床 → 足座【あぐら】 羹 → 熱物【あつもの】 鐙 → 足踏み【あぶみ】 雷【いかずち】 → 厳【いか】つ霊【ち】 泉 → 出【い】づ水【み】 営む → 暇無【いとな】む 猪【いのしし】 → 猪【い】の獣【しし】, 猪【い】の肉【しし】 妹 → 妹【いも】人【うと】 (common hito shift) 甍 → 苛処【いらか】 驢 → 兎馬【うさぎうま】 鬣【うながみ】 → 項【うな】髪【...


35

They all originate from the cursive versions of kanji with the same/similar pronunciation as the hiragana. Here's a picture from Wikipedia to illustrate: To answer your question - there is no deep connection between the kana with circles. The kanji they came from just happened to have a circle when written in cursive. And just to be complete, Wikipedia ...


35

It's because English "free" has two major meanings which are totally different, and no native Japanese word covers both of the two meanings of "free". Free as in "free WiFi", no charge = 無料 Free as in "free speech", liberty = 自由 If you type only "free" to, for example, Google Translate, it can't guess the intended meaning, so it ends up with フリー, which is ...


34

It says 「檢閲濟{けんえつずみ}」"ken'etsuzumi", which means "inspected". The kanji are of the old style. The presently-used kanji are 「検閲済」.


32

This question should be broken into two different questions: When and how did small-tsu come to represent consonant gemination. When and how did consonant gemination (as represented by small-tsu) come to be in Japanese. (For those who don't know the term: gemination simply means doubling of sounds, usually consonants. It's easy to get the sense ...


29

It has two main usages: As an abbreviation of the counter word 個/箇. More often it has a further word after it and it's read か. In this case it's sometimes written as ヵ or even か so the reading is more obvious. Examples: 一ヶ月(いっかげつ) 二ヶ国語 三ヶ所 Sometimes it's used alone just like 個 is (and it's read こ too), perhaps as shorthand. I've rarely seen people do this, ...


29

It isn't 100 percent clear, but the following is the “well-established” theory: Hiragana (平仮名) As noted in your other question, hiragana was originally called 女手{おんなで}. In the late Nara, early Heian periods, 万葉仮名{まんようがな} written in 草書体 (sosho style) was used for “unofficial” texts such as Japanese poems (和歌{わか}), etc. From this 万葉仮名, women in the imperial ...


28

Why is it pronounced "yen"? I was actually wondering this a month or so ago, but found the answer on the Wikipedia article for yen/en. The spelling and pronunciation "yen" is standard in English. This is because mainly English speakers who visited Japan at the end of the Edo period to the early Meiji period spelled words this way. ... In the 16th century,...


24

I think the word [時間]{じかん} was created in the Meiji era, but the word [時]{とき} is older. So it's definitely wrong that "the Japanese didn't have any interest in clocks (until 1871)". I searched in an old-Japanese dictionary and found the usage of 「とき」 in 竹取物語: [宵]{よひ}うち[過]{す}ぎて、[子]{ね}のときばかりに Here, the word [子]{ね}のとき refers to a certain time which is ...


23

Any word read in on'yomi in Japanese and using the Sinic hanja reading in Korean is probably ultimately attributable to Middle Chinese, unless evidence can be found of an independent coinage somewhere on the Japanese archipelago or the Korean peninsula. Terms like the ones below are likely borrowings from Middle or later Korean, rather than Chinese. We can ...


21

もしもし is used to call for someone’s attention. Although it is often used on the phone, the use is not limited to phone calls. もしもし is a repetition of もし, which is also used to call for an attention. もし is a variation of 申し (もうし), which was used in the same way in old time. 申し definitely predates telephones, and I guess that both もし and もしもし for asking for ...


20

The short answer is: No. There isn't a single authoritative source that can tell you where each and every Kanji comes from, since the complete etymology of some Kanji remains in controversy. This is actually not at all different than the state of the etymology (= study of origin) of English words. The longer answer is more hopeful, though: there are some ...


20

Say what? Putting aside the fact that this sounds like a whitewashed description of sexual assault, at what point in history was this "practice" so common that it was given a name? I don't know when it started, but the word originally comes from [呼ばう]{よばう} and is more commonly written as [夜這い]{よばい}. It is an old Japanese custom that was common up until the ...


19

Well, there is indeed a stereotypical "Samurai way of talking" that you can see in Samurai films or in historical dramas (時代劇, Jidaigeki) on TV, but it's far from being authentic. In fact, Samurai talked in many different ways, depending on the era and their home province (after all, they were speaking in their dialect). As far as I know, the stereotypical ...


19

Addendum The word 時{とき} is probably the oldest native Japanese word for "time". This term appears in the 万葉集{まんようしゅう} written in Old Japanese and compiled from poems composed from the 300s through the 700s, completed some time after 759 CE. These are some of the oldest surviving examples of written Japanese, suggesting that this term is quite ancient ...


18

Your suspicion is leading you down the right path. ドア is in fact a loanword from English. According to Jisho.org, ドア is used in reference to a Western-style door. This is a door that opens on hinges. Before the introduction of Western-style doors, you are also correct to assume that the Japanese had doors as well. These doors would slide on a track. In ...


17

Good question! 「米国」 According to Japanese Wikipedia, the pronunciation of American was メリケン during the Meiji period, and was rendered into kanji as 「米利堅」 Since the first character is 米 (べい、まい、めい) the abbreviation became 米国. This was despite the fact that the full kanji representation of アメリカ is 亜米利加. I suspect it was because 亜 is already used to represent ...


16

I think this question is relevant: What do you mean, "In Japanese there are no words for "I’m suffering""? Also a little googling leads to a quote where this is clearly being used metaphorically by the speaker (presuming this is even an accurate quote/translation and not made up): Captain Sasaki of the Yokahama Guards: "There is no ...


15

It randomly occurred to me today that while these are indeed similar in meaning, they are not always interchangeable. If you're talking about making a call to someone/somewhere, either can be used: 事務所に電話する call the office 事務所に電話をかける call the office But 電話する can also be a joint action. Consider the following: 彼氏と電話する talk on the phone with one's ...


15

During the Edo period, villages traditionally had 10 communal activities: 冠 - 成人式 - coming of age ceremony 婚 - marriage 建築 - helping with building/repairing 病気 - helping when sick 水害 - helping during flooding/water damage 旅行 - travel 出産 - giving birth 年忌 - death anniversaries 葬式 - funeral service 火事 - fire fighting However, when ...


14

What I can think of is Japanese numbers are using when registration of house, family registrations, and some contracts. But they used 壱 弐 参 拾 萬 instead of ー 二 三 十 万 on those kinds of registrations, contracts to prevent obvious modifications. And according to trade law, session 2, No. 48 「壱、弐、参、拾」 are mandatory. Old books using those Japanese numbers a ...


14

There are also several old and common words which may have come from Korean, but of course, unlike words that are easily recognized as Korean in origin (such as 両班 Yangban or 温突 ondol), these words would probably forever remain in controversy: 寺 (てら) may have come from the Korean 절 (jeol). The Koujien dictionary also states the Pali word thera (old, ancient)...


14

I doubt that any kanji characters commonly used in Japanese were made after 1946. Some kanji characters used in Japanese are actually made in Japan. They are called 和製漢字 (わせいかんじ) or 国字 (こくじ). However, although I do not know when they were made, I guess that most of them were made before 1946. JIS X 0208 regulates basic characters commonly used in ...


14

Undoubtedly the book Krazer suggested would make for the most thorough answer, but the Japanese wikipedia article on the 国語審議会 (the Japanese Language Council) has got some interesting details. From 1949 to 1961 the chairman was 土岐善麿, a supporter of the switch to romaji. Some of his work was published in romaji. (At least one example, Nakiwarai, is online if ...


14

Yes, it's common to write in that way. Writing いづみ instead of いずみ and 買ひ instead of 買い are a part of the Historical Kana Orthography (歴史的仮名遣). Writing katakana instead of hiragana is considered more formal in old days. See 歴史的仮名遣 and 片仮名 歴史的仮名遣とは ... 明治から第二次世界大戦終結直後までの公文書や学校教育において用いられたものであり、平安時代初期までの発音を反映した表記であると仮想されたものを基点としている。 The Historical Kana ...


14

No, because「星」was not the original character for the word meaning star. 「星」was originally written「晶」: These are oracle bone script samples, and by that stage stars were already characterised as being more numerous and smaller than the sun and moon, hence the appearance.「晶」now means sparkling/crystal/radiant, and this is a semantic extension from the ...


13

It's a repetition mark or くの字点 (for its similarity to the character く, as you noted). い ろ 〳 〵 の 注 文 It's only used in vertical text, and repeats over two or more characters, which for your examples results in ひいひいと and いろいろの注文. There is also a single-kana repetition mark ゝ (which is the kana equivalent of the kanji repetition mark 々), ...


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