Sekarashika, yajorashika: related etymologies?

  1. 7 years ago


    Mar 2014 Administrator
    Edited 6 years ago by Zachary

    Throughout the whole of Japan, there are countless ways of telling others to be quiet or that they're being a nuisance, as can be seen in JLect's category on Annoyance . Two of them that stand out, however, are the Kyushu expressions せからしか sekarashika and やじょらしか yajorashika, and their numerous variations:


    • Sekarashii
    • Sekarashi


    • Yajoroshi
    • Yazoroshi
    • Yazeroshi
    • Yazerashii
    • Yajoroshika
    • Yazerashika
    • Yajerashika
    • Yajirashika
    • Yazekurashika
    • Yagurashika

    Ignoring the adjectival ending -ka or -i, the main recurring theme is that both terms incorporate the suffix -rashi-, which functions more or less like the suffix "-like" in English. For example, 女らしい onna-rashii could be translated as "ladylike" or "womanly". Thus, given that it turns another word into an adjective, we would expect the roots seka- and yajo- (or variants thereof) to be connected to something else. But what could they be related to?

    After a doing a search in a standard Japanese dictionary, I happened to come up with the following two possibilities that are semantically related:

    • せいか【生家】 "one's parents' home"
    • やじょう【耶嬢】 "father and mother"

    Could it be possible that both expressions allude to one's parents or parents' home? And thus, by saying sekarashika or yajorashika, one would literally be telling another that they're "acting like (one's) parents"? It's an interesting possibility and I don't think it's impossible if we were to assume a semantic shift from "bossy/demanding"or "always yammering" to "annoying".

  2. Miyukwa

    Jul 2014 Daejeon, Republic of Korea

    In the Japanese–Portuguese Dictionary of 1603, the word sekarashii is glossed "to be busy". As can be inferred from the kanji used, seika means "the house of one's birth, birthplace"; therefore, I consider the derivation of sekarashii from seika is unconvincing.

  3. Zachary

    Jul 2014 Administrator
    Edited 7 years ago by Zachary

    Hm, I don't have access to the Nippo Jisho, but assuming you're correct in the historical meaning given, then it may be likely that せからしい sekarashii is related to the Japanese adjectives せわしい【忙しい】 sewashii and いそがしい【忙しい】 isogashii "busy; hectic", especially considering that いそぐ【急ぐ】 isogu "to hurry" apparently becomes せぐ segu in some dialects like Aomori . In fact, judging from this website , I'm now thinking that やぞらしい yazorashii and its variants could be cognate with sekarashii. Perhaps the historical form goes back to something like *yasokurashii or *yesokurashii? Just a thought.

  4. Miyukwa

    Jul 2014 Daejeon, Republic of Korea

    As I am not knowledgeable about dialects of Japanese, I didn't know that isog- 4 becomes seg- in certain dialects. Your derivation of those words from isog- 4 root is very nice, I think.

    As you may already know, there are certain alterations in Japanese involving i (< *yi) and yV: i.e. the likes of ine and yone. So I agree with you that sekarashii and yazorashii might ultimately share the same etymology.

  5. Zachary

    Jul 2014 Administrator
    Edited 7 years ago by Zachary

    Hmm, I'm still not sure what to think. It looks like seku "to be busy" exists in most dictionaries and is the most common form dialectally, not segu, which may be a voiced form. This confirms a shift from *seku-rashii to sekarashii, sewashii and other variants. However, for isogu, it seems that it's possible it could stem from the expression いきせく【息急く】 ikiseku (いきをせく【息を急く {?咳く}】 iki o seku) "to run out of breath; to pant; to gasp", by way of *ikiseku > *ikisoku > *iisoku > *isogu.

    If this is true, then the adjective yazorashii and its variants wouldn't be directly cognate with sekarashii, though it may contain a prefix: *ya-sekurashii. At least, this idea explains why the second syllable (-ze-, -zo-, -jo-, etc.) becomes voiced. Perhaps the prefix / initial morpheme is related to いや・や【嫌】 iya / ya?

  6. Miyukwa

    Jul 2014 Daejeon, Republic of Korea

    There are at least two cognates of isog- 4, namely the adjective isos[ik]- and another verb isof- 4. All of them are attested from the earliest stage of the language, in the songs of Kojiki and Man'yōshū.

  7. Zachary

    Aug 2014 Administrator

    Do you happen to have a citation of *isos[ik]- and *isof-? I can't seem to find anything on them.

    As a side note, This site suggests a link with 直ぐ sugu "immediately", but I'm not sure about that connection:


    A few other forms to add are えそぐ esogu , used in Suzaka City (Nagano); へぐ hegu , used in Tsugaru (Aomori); and せける sekeru , used in Ayabe (Kyoto).

    In the same light, for *yazokurashii, I've also found the form えぞくらしい ezokurashii "annoying" (Gifu), as well as えぞくらしい ezokurashii (Nagoya), えぞくるしい ezokurushii (Kyoto) and えづくろしい edzukurushii (Kansai) labelled by the Nihon Jiten as meaning "unsightly; ugly". I don't know if these last three are related, but it was worth mentioning.

  8. Miyukwa

    Aug 2014 Daejeon, Republic of Korea

    For the verb isof- 4: 筏に作り 泝すらむいそはく見れば 神ながらにあらし (万葉集 1:50)
    For the adjective isos[ik]-: 黒木取り草も刈りつつ仕へめどいそしきわけとほめむともあらず (万葉集 4:780)
    For the verb isosim- 4: いそしみうむがしみ忘れ給はずとしてなも (続日本紀 宣命 13)

    Among these words, only isosim- 4 (written 勤しむ) seems to be still in use.

  9. Zachary

    Aug 2014 Administrator

    Thank you! I found いそし(き) in Weblio's Kobun dictionary here . It looks like it meant "(working) diligently", which is semantically parallel to 勤しむ "to work diligently" and isn't far off from 急ぐ "to hurry" (perhaps: 'work diligently' > 'work fast' > 'hurry/rush').

    According to this site , いそはく meant 勤しむ・励む. I'm curious if all these different forms mean that いそ was originally a separate noun?

    Do you know if せく【急く】 is attested anywhere? I wonder if it really is related to 急ぐ, or if that's really just a coincidence.

  10. Miyukwa

    Aug 2014 Daejeon, Republic of Korea

    In 万葉集 1:50, いそはく isofaku is a nominalized form of the verb いそふ isof- 4. It is called ク用法.

    In Japanese, we have a fair amount of pairs such as しづく siduk- 4 (whence Modern Japanese 滴 shizuku) and しづむ sidum- 4 (whence Modern Japanese 沈む shizum- 4), still it does not necessarily mean that there was once a noun **sidu.

    As far as I know, せく sek- 4 is not attested in the earliest stage of the language. There always has been another (presumably unrelated) せく sek- 4, meaning "to block", though.

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