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  1. 3 years ago
    11 Dec 2017, 1:06pm GMT-0500

    I have to admit, you do make a good case as to why the claim that 果物 stems from 木+だ+物 is questionable.

    If we take the etymology for face value, some reasons as to why we have /ku/ instead of /ko/ or /ki/ could include the following:

    • Japanese does have some morphemes that exhibit variation between /o/ and /u/. For example, 帆 /ho/ "sail" and 帆 /ɸune/ (cf. Kyushu /hone/) "boat"; 数 "number" and 数える /kazoeru/ "count"; 軽い /karui/ "light" and 軽んずる "to make light of".
    • It also has some morphemes that vary between /i/ and /u/. For example, 明日 /asu/ and /asita/ "tomorrow"; 口 /kuti/ "mouth" and 轡 /kutuwa/ "bit (for horse)".
    • The word may come from another dialect.
    • Perhaps the vowel changed by conflation with the words 食う /kuu/ "to eat" and 栗 /kuri/ "chestnut".

    Note: Some of the vowel alternation examples are taken from here:

    I do not have a definite answer to your question, but thought I'd leave you with those as food for thought.

  2. 4 years ago
    18 Jul 2017, 6:09pm GMT-0400

    Hi Alvaro,

    I didn't realize you posted here as well, so I'll quote the response I gave by email in case anyone else reading this forum is curious:


    I am fairly certain that your friend wrote the following:

    wannee unju tiishichi umutuuibin.

    The Japanese equivalent would be:

    watashi wa anata wo taisetsu ni omotteimasu.

    In English, you could translate this as "I really cherish you", "I really care about you", "I really value you", "You are really important to me".

    Note that the second segment in your original post is just a repetition of the ending in the first, i.e. 'tiishichi umutuuibin' (to cherish, to value).

    All the best!

  3. 22 Jun 2017, 6:44pm GMT-0400
    Zachary started the conversation The various words for "ladybug" in Japanese.



    • テントウムシ【天道虫・瓢虫・紅娘】 tentoumushi, from tentou (天道) "the sun" and mushi (虫) "bug, insect".
    • .


    • あねこむし anekomushi (Aomori & Miyagi), from ane (姉) "older sister" and komushi (子虫) "little bug, little insect".
    • おかたむし okatamushi (Nagano), from okata (お方) "lady, gentleman" and mushi (虫) "bug, insect".
    • おちゃやのばんとう ochayanobantou (Kyoto), from o-cha-ya (お茶屋) "tea house", the genitive particle no (の) and bantou (番頭) "clerk".
    • おばごむし obagomushi (Gunma), from obago (叔母御) "aunt" and mushi (虫) "bug, insect".
    • おまん oman (Gunma), from oman "Manjū (a Japanese confection)", itself a shortening of manjuu (饅頭) "Manjū".
    • せーまんじょ seemanjo (Shizuoka)
    • てんじくさん tenjikusan (Sadogashima), from tenjiku (天竺) "India" and the honorific san "Mr. / Ms.".
    • てんじくむし tenjikumushi (Sadogashima), from tenjiku (天竺) "India" and mushi (虫) "bug, insect".
    • でんでんむし dendenmushi (Kanagawa), from denden (pos. a deformation of tentou (天道) "the sun") and mushi (虫) "bug, insect".
    • とのさんうま tonosan'uma (Sadogashima), from tono (殿) "feudal lord", the honorific san "Mr. / Ms.", and uma (馬) "horse".
    • いしゃさまむし ishasamamushi, from isha-sama (医者様) "doctor" and mushi (虫) "bug, insect".
    • おあんむし oanmushi, from o-wan (お椀) "bowl" and mushi (虫) "bug, insect".
    • おわんむし owanmushi, from o-wan (お椀) "bowl" and mushi (虫) "bug, insect".
    • かぐらむし kaguramushi, from kagura (神楽), a type of Shinto theatrical dance, probably by way of a rhyme with kabura (蕪) "turnip", and mushi (虫) "bug, insect".
    • かぶらむし kaburamushi, from kabura (蕪) "turnip" and mushi (虫) "bug, insect".
    • てんとむし tentomushi, from tentou (天道) "the sun" and mushi (虫) "bug, insect".
    • ひめむし himemushi, from hime (姫) "princess" and mushi (虫) "bug, insect".

    All of these terms are pulled from , though the etymologies were added by me. I didn't find anything for the Ryukyuan languages.

  4. 3 Mar 2017, 7:37pm GMT-0500

    The modern Japanese color lexicon

    Authors: Ichiro Kuriki; Ryan Lange; Yumiko Muto; Angela M. Brown; Kazuho Fukuda; Rumi Tokunaga; Delwin T. Lindsey; Keiji Uchikawa; Satoshi Shioiri


    Despite numerous prior studies, important questions about the Japanese color lexicon persist, particularly about the number of Japanese basic color terms and their deployment across color space. Here, 57 native Japanese speakers provided monolexemic terms for 320 chromatic and 10 achromatic Munsell color samples. Through k-means cluster analysis we revealed 16 statistically distinct Japanese chromatic categories. These included eight chromatic basic color terms (aka/red, ki/yellow, midori/green, ao/blue, pink, orange, cha/brown, and murasaki/purple) plus eight additional terms: mizu (“water”)/light blue, hada (“skin tone”)/peach, kon (“indigo”)/dark blue, matcha (“green tea”)/yellow-green, enji/maroon, oudo (“sand or mud”)/mustard, yamabuki (“globeflower”)/gold, and cream. Of these additional terms, mizu was used by 98% of informants, and emerged as a strong candidate for a 12th Japanese basic color term. Japanese and American English color-naming systems were broadly similar, except for color categories in one language (mizu, kon, teal, lavender, magenta, lime) that had no equivalent in the other. Our analysis revealed two statistically distinct Japanese motifs (or color-naming systems), which differed mainly in the extension of mizu across our color palette. Comparison of the present data with an earlier study by Uchikawa & Boynton (1987) suggests that some changes in the Japanese color lexicon have occurred over the last 30 years.

    Full article (open access):

  5. 16 Jan 2017, 6:41pm GMT-0500
    Zachary posted in ichariba choode? .

    Hi Hollervee!

    "ichariba choodee" is indeed an Okinawan expression that can be variously translated in English as "When we meet, we are brothers/sisters", "From the moment we meet, we become family", "If we met before, then we're family", "Once together, friends forever", etc. The idea behind it is that every chance meeting has meaning and every interaction is valuable. Some relate the expression back to the warmth of the Okinawan people and their willingness to welcome others.

    The exact expression can be written as follows, depending on the script:

    Kanji: 行逢りば兄弟
    Hiragana: いちゃりばちょーでー
    Katakana: イチャリバチョーデー
    Romaji: ichariba choodee

    To deconstruct this, "ichariba" (more literally, "if we meet/met [by chance]") comes from the verb "ichain (行逢ん)" which means "to meet by chance" and "choodee (兄弟)" is the word for "siblings" or "brothers and sisters". Note that the sentence literally reads "If we meet/met, siblings" and that it has no verb. This is because the verb is implied, something you also see in Japanese (e.g. "良いお年を" which means "happy (new) year" is one such case, where the implied verb is "お迎えください" "have a/spend a").

    For reference, here's the entry on the expression in Ajima Okinawa, a fairly well-known Japanese-Okinawan online dictionary:

    I hope this helps!

  6. 21 Dec 2016, 7:44pm GMT-0500

    It appears that the following seven small kana were accepted in UTC-149:


    Essentially, the small forms of the following characters will eventually become available: ゐゑをヰヱヲン. Strangely, small ん was not accepted, further reinforcing the gap between the katakana and hiragana writing systems.

    All things considered, I think this is a good step forward, but at the same time, it's hugely disappointing that no further consideration was given to the other characters proposed and that zero consideration was ever given to the Ryukyuan languages. Several of the characters in the L2/16-354 proposal (linked in my first post) would have been beneficial to transcribe the Amami and Miyako languages and their dialects, especially small む to mark an /m/ sound and small す to mark an /s/ sound (personally, I would have also added small ず and maybe small ふ to cover additional characters that are often used in transcriptions of Miyako, but that's an aside).

    The extremely slow adoption of small kana reminds me of Unicode's decision to incompletely implement Latin superscript and subscript symbols ( ). Maybe, just maybe one day we'll get them all.

  7. 16 Nov 2016, 2:01am GMT-0500

    Here's a data list of how the word "left" (左) is pronounced in a range of Japanese and Ryukyuan varieties. All values are transcribed in the International Phonetics Alphabet (IPA).


    Proto-Japonic: *pidari

    Origin: Native. It's largely believed to originate from 日出り pi+tari "sun+rising".


    • Tokyo & Kansai: çidaɾi~çidaɺi
    • Hachijo (all islands): çidaɾi
    • Kagoshima: çidai



    • Onotsu & Sakamine: piʑai
    • Shitooke & Shiomichi: pidai
    • Aden: ɸidai
    • Kamikatetsu, Wan, Nakazato & Araki: çidaɾi
    • Shodon: çidʲaaɾʲi ~ çidʲaɾ


    • Nakijin: pˣid͡ʑei, pˣid͡ʑai, pˣid͡ʑee
    • Shuri: çid͡ʑai


    • Uechi: pɨdal ~ pɨda
    • Yonaha: pˢɿ̥daᶻɿ
    • Kugai: pzdaz
    • Irabu: pʰidiɿ
    • Bora: pˢɿdaɿ ~ pˢɿdaᶻɿ
    • Kuninaka: pˢɨdaɭ
    • Oura: bᶻɿdaɿ
    • Shimajiri: bᶻɿdaᶻɿ
    • Kurima: pʰïdaɭ ~ psdaz
    • Ikema: çidai
    • Karimata: bïdaɯ ~ bzdaɯ
    • Sunagawa: ps̩daz̩ ~ ps̩daɿ
    • Ogami: pɯtɑɯ


    • Hateruma: pinaɾi
    • Hatoma: pidaɾi
    • Ishigaki: pɨdaɾɨ
    • Yonaguni: n̩dai
  8. 11 Nov 2016, 12:41pm GMT-0500
    Zachary started the conversation Proposal to add small Kana characters to Unicode.

    Proposal to add Kana small letters
    Author: Ryusei Yamaguchi <>



    Small letters of Kana (a general term for Hiragana and Katakana scripts) are often used to extend the syllabic system to denote exotic or corrupted sounds, such as gemination, diphthong, contraction, and closed syllables. Although Unicode already has 12 Hiragana small letters and 28 Katakana small letters, the following small letters not collected yet remain:

    • The Hiragana counterparts of the 16 Katakana phonetic extensions
    • Historic letters for labialization
    • A letter for nasalization
    • Letters for palatalized consonants

    Google Docs:

  9. 8 Oct 2016, 9:54pm GMT-0400
    Zachary started the conversation Kumamoto-ben: A primer on the Kumamoto dialect.


    JLect's Kumamoto-ben dictionary/Kumamoto dialect dictionary

    Introduction to the Kumamoto dialect

    Thinking of visiting Kumamoto and want to learn a bit of the local dialect? Then you're in the right place to learn!

    Kumamoto-ben is a Japanese dialect spoken in the prefecture of Kumamoto, located in the centre of Kyushu island. On a general level, it is more closely aligned with the dialects of Western and Southern Kyushu, such as Fukuoka, Nagasaki and Kagoshima. It can also be further subdivided into a number of smaller dialects; so someone who comes from Kumamoto city won't exactly speak the same way as someone from the district of Kuma or the island of Amakusa.

    Current status of the dialect

    As with other Kyushu dialects, the traditional Kumamoto dialect is slowly being levelled away as a result of centralized media and standardized education. As a result, younger generations will speak a dialect that is becoming more closely aligned with standard Japanese. However, as it is currently, even their manner of speaking still shows quite a number of traces of the traditional dialect. So if you go to Kumamoto, you will still hear some local expressions, different verb conjugations, new particles, and so on.

    Verb conjugation patterns

    Two of the most recognizable verb differences are the negative form and the progressive form.


    In standard Japanese, verbs are negated by appending -(a)nai at the end. For example, 書く kaku "write" becomes 書かない kakanai "not write". In Kumamoto, as well as much of Western Japan, the ending becomes -(a)n. Consequently, you end up with:

    • 書く kaku "write" → 書かん kakan "no write"
    • しる shiru "know" → しらん shiran "not know"
    • 分かる wakaru "understand" → 分からん wakaran "not understand"
    • 食う kuu "eat" → 食わん kuwan "not eat"


    In standard Japanese, the progressive is formed with the ending -teiru (-deiru). In Kumamoto, this becomes -tooru/-toru (-dooru/-doru). You might also hear the variant -chooru/-choru (-jooru/-joru) in some areas as well. For example:

    • 書く kaku "write" → 書いとおる kaitooru "writing"
    • しる shiru "know" → しっとおる shittooru "knowing"
    • 分かる wakaru "understand" → 分かっとおる wakattooru "understanding"

    True adjectives

    In standard Japanese, true adjectives are those that end in -i and that conjugate like verbs for things like tense. In Kumamoto and many Western Kyushu dialects, the ending is replaced with -ka. For example:

    • 厚い atsui → 厚か atsuka "hot"
    • 良い yoi → 良か yoka "good"
    • 眠い nemui → 眠か nemuka/nebuka "sleepy"
    • うまい umai → うまか umaka "delicious"

    Note that this also includes the negative ending: ない nai → なか naka. That said, the -ka ending isn't always used and can sometimes be in variation with the -i ending.

    True adverbs

    This probably isn't the right term for it, but, in standard Japanese, you can derive adverbs from true adjectives by changing the -i ending into a -ku. For example, 早い hayai "fast" becomes 早く hayaku "swiftly". This same phenomenon applies to Kumamoto, except that the ending -i/-ka will become -u instead and will trigger a phenomenon known as vowel fusion or vowel coalescence. By this rule, 早い hayai "fast" becomes *はやう *hayau and ultimately はよう hayou "swiftly". Sometimes, the final vowel will simply be shortened, giving はよ hayo instead.

    This form is becoming less and less common, but you'll still hear it in some popular expressions like the example provided.

    Useful function words and other endings

    ばい bai

    You'll hear bai at the end of tons of utterances. If you're familiar with standard Japanese, it's basically the same thing as the particle よ yo. In other words, it adds emphasis to an otherwise declarative phrase. For example, 眠かばい nemuka bai effectively means "I'm so sleepy" and 本当ばい hontou bai means "Really!".

    たい tai

    Tai is very similar to bai in how it's used, except that it's considered less strong and can sometimes be encountered in more formal situations.

    ばってん batten

    The conjunction batten is used to introduce a contrast, like the words "but" or "however" in English. It's still very popular today, so you're sure to hear it at one point or another if you travel to Kumamoto.

    けん ken

    The conjunction ken is used to mark an explanation, like the words "because" and "since" in English. It's essentially equivalent to the standard Japanese endings から kara and ので node.

    と to

    When asking non polar questions, that is, questions for which you're seeking an explanation instead of a yes or no answer, you would use the particle の in standard Japanese. In Kumamoto, however, you'll often hear と to instead. For example, どこ行くと? doko iku to? means "Where are you going?".

    なんせ nanse, なっせ nasse

    Nanse/nasse is used in lieu of the standard ending nasai. It essentially turns a verb into a formal request. For example, きなっせ【来なっせ】 kinasse means "please come".


    The particle ba marks the direct object of a verb, in the same was as を o does in the standard language. You'll often hear it following the word なん nan "what": なんばしょうと? nan ba shou to? "What are you up to?".

    しゃんしゃん shanshan

    Shanshan is a pretty versatile expression that's often used to affirm something said, kind of like saying "right, right", "yeah, that's right", "mhmm" or "I see". Depending on the exact region, you might hear other variations of this expression like そうやんそうやん souyansouyan or じゃあじゃあ jaajaa.

    Other Kumamoto words

    If you're looking for other Kumamoto words and expressions, then you'll definitely want to check out
    JLect's Kumamoto word list or even Wikipedia's article on Kumamoto-ben .

  10. 5 years ago
    14 Aug 2016, 12:08pm GMT-0400

    Two quick updates:

    • In the Word search, the Wiktionary search has been fixed (it was previously not working).
    • The Sentence search is now also integrated with the Japanese-English Bilingual Corpus of Wikipedia's Kyoto Articles ( ). Note that the English translations are done by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), so they may sound unnatural at times.
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