Last active 10 months ago

  1. 10 months ago
    29 Apr 2018, 2:17am GMT-0400

    Thanks for the input, Zachary. ^_^

    Your suggestion that 「果物」 might be linked with 「食う」 spoke to me the most. Based on your suggestion, I thought perhaps it may have been an irregular shortening *ku(w)udamono or *kuwidamono→ /kudamono/.

    However, after a bit of digging, I found that my hypothesis doesn’t quite hold up. The form /kudamono/ is first attested (to my knowledge) in the 源氏物語 2.3.2:


    Because the 源氏物語 was written for an educated court audience, unless /kudamono/ was a very early irregular shift, I find it unlikely that a connection between 「食う」 and 「果物」 would be lost.

    Interestingly, /kedamono/ is also attested in the 源氏物語 2.1.4:


    But whilst /kudamono/ is written in kana, /kedamono/ is written with a single kanji, obscuring its actual reading. Considering that 「獣」 has the alternative reading /kemono/, I think it’s worth asking these questions:

    Is /kudamono/ really the irregular reading here?

    What if the reading /kedamono/ is by conflation with /kudamono/ and /tadamono/?

    Is medial 「だ」 really even an archaic genetive marker, as the 国語大辞典 and 大辞林 state, considering 「果物」 and 「獣」 are the only words in which it ever appears?

    Under this interpretation, 「果物」 = a word with the shape /kuda/ + 「物」.

    The only Yamato word I’m aware of read /kuda/ is 「管」, which would lead to the somewhat strange interpretation 「果物」 = 「管」 + 「物」 (literally “pipe thing”).

    However, in Heian-period Japan, the prototypical pipe would probably be made of bamboo, as evidenced by the 管狐 (pipe fox), which appears inside the summoner’s bamboo pipe.

    I did some research, and bamboo does indeed produce fruit.

    ©Nongamba Ningthemcha 2006

    Bamboo Botanicals says :

    The flowering of a bamboo is an intriguing phenomenon. A phenomenon not because bamboo produces any spectacular flowers... but a phenomenon because it is a unique and very rare occurrence in the plant kingdom. Most bamboos flower once every 60 to 130 years depending on the species!! The long flowering intervals are largely a mystery and still astounds many botanists today with no definitive explanation.

    Therefore, could 「果物」 originally have referred to the bamboo fruit?

    In fact, what counted as 「果物」 to Heian-period Japanese people to begin with? The Ancient History Encyclopedia says :

    Fruit available included peaches, the Japanese orange, tangerines, persimmons, loquats, plums, pomegranates, apples, raspberries, and strawberries.

    We’ll need to synthesize both linguistic and anthropological evidence to continue down this train of thought. ^_^;

    But before that, we should comparatively analyze the equivalent words for /kudamono/ and /kedamono/ in other Japonic languages. I think data from the Ryuukyuuan languages will be most helpful, as they might allow us to reconstruct expected protoforms or attach a date to their coinings.

    My search on JLect unfortunately didn’t turn up any results, but perhaps you might be able to find the necessary data? ^_^

    I’m reluctant to accept that /kudamono/ is a simple dialectal borrowing, both because I doubt the Heian nobles would use a dialectal form before language standardization was possible, and because it is too ad hoc for me without supporting data.

    As for morphemic variation between /o/ and /u/, and /i/ and /u/, I’m forced to reject this as a source for a /ku/ reading of 「木」 as it already varies between /o/ and /i/. Adding /u/ to the list would result in a three-way variation, which doesn’t occur in any other Japanese word.

    What do you think? ^_^

  2. 28 Apr 2018, 7:44am GMT-0400
    Lumfish started the conversation The Pitch Accents of Sino-Japanese Words.

    Hey there,

    I was in the process of compiling pitch accent information for Sino-Japanese words from the NHK日本語発音アクセント辞典〜新版 for some self-study, when I noticed some interesting patterns.

    The biggest thing that I noticed is that the downstep is on the first mora most of the time.

    乙 òtu
    町 tyòu
    子 sì
    有 yùu
    刀 tòu
    訃 hù
    上 zyòu

    However, all of the words I could find ending in ち had the downstep on that.

    一 itì
    吉 kitì
    七 sitì
    質 sitì
    八 hatì
    鉢 hatì
    罰 batì

    To my knowledge, words ending in ち only occur in 吳音, with the exception of 「罰」, which has a 慣用音 reading.

    I also found that 吳音 words ending in く had the downstep on that.

    菊 kikù
    軸 dikù

    Although this only seemed to occur in those beginning with い-syllables.

    億 òku
    獄 gòku

    There were also 吳音 words with no downstep at all.

    客 kyaku
    逆 gyaku
    酌 syaku

    But this was only guaranteed if the first mora contained a diphthong.

    角 kàku; kaku
    学 gaku; gàku
    作 saku; sàku

    And this doesn’t occur in 漢音 at all.

    脚 kyàku
    略 ryàku
    局 kyòku

    This is by no means a comprehensive analysis of all SJ words, particularly since I’m literally writing this up on the same day I noticed these patterns, just so that I don’t forget about them. My pool of data is currently limited to around 150 or so words. ^_^;

    I’ve restricted myself to readings from the 常用漢字 list, as I feel it’s the best way to avoid the problem Miyake (2004) describes whilst lacking access to more comprehensive resources:

    Many Go-on readings were lost after the importation of Kan-on . . . Yet we find Go-on readings for every single character in SJ dictionaries (kanwa jiten). Lexicographers have invented what I call ‘pseudo-Go-on’ on the basis of fanqie (Miller 1967: 106, Tôdô 1980: 168) Go-on readings in today’s SJ dictionaries are a mix of genuine borrowings . . . and what Miller (1967: 106) calls “linguistic ghosts”. It is often difficult if not impossible to sort out which readings are real and which readings are imaginary. I have yet to see two SJ dictionaries whose Go-on readings match completely.

    . . .

    Tôdô (1980: 168) himself gives some good advice about how to avoid pseudo-Go-on and pseudo-Kan-on: “To use Kan-on and Go-on as data . . . it is best for us to limit ourselves to old materials with glosses for character readings or specific vocabulary items which have been transmitted such as 東西 tousai ‘east and west,’ 兄弟 kyaudai ‘brothers,’ and 緑青 rokusyau ‘green rust on copper.’”

    I’ve also sourced which readings are 吳音 and 漢音 from Wiktionary, which I’m aware isn’t exactly the best source, but again I’m limited by my access to better resources.

    On the basis of these observations, I want to propose these hypotheses:

    1. The default downstep of Sino-Japanese words occurs on the first mora.
    2. The downstep of Sino-Japanese words ending with ち occurs on the ち.
    3. The downstep of 吳音 readings beginning with い-syllables and ending with く occurs on the く.
    4. There is no downstep in 吳音 readings ending with く with a diphthong in the first mora.

    「角」, 「学」, and 「作」 have identical 吳音 and 漢音 readings. Initially, hypothesis №3 was extended to all syllables and ending with く, but this was contradicted by 「億」 and 「獄」. Because these three words are all very frequent, I conjecture that the no-downstep readings are the result of reanalysis, as two-character 音-reading words overwhelmingly have no downstep, or “nativization” into the pitch-accent rules of 訓 readings.

    I think what’s most striking to me is the distinction between the 吳音 「客」 /kyaku/ and the 漢音 「脚」 /kyàku/. If there are further pitch accent rules to be discovered, this could help in differentiating between 吳音, 漢音, and their pseudo-counterpart readings.

    However, my big question is this:

    Are there any resources — particularly English-language resources — that detail what the rules of pitch accent in Sino-Japanese words are? ^_^

  3. last year
    6 Dec 2017, 10:20am GMT-0500
    Lumfish started the conversation What is the Etymology of 「果物」?.

    Hey there,

    I was reading up on some etymologies, when I came across one entry that just doesn’t feel right to me.

    The 国語大辞典 and 大辞林 state that 「果物」 is a compound of 「木」 + 「だ」 + 「物」 (/ku/ + /da/ + /mono/, literally “tree thing”), with /ku/ being explained as a sound shift from the bounded form /ko/. In support of this, the word 「獣」 is cited in comparison, which is explained as a compound of 「毛」 + 「だ」 + 「物」 (/ke/ + /da/ + /mono/, literally “hair thing”).

    I can accept the latter, but not so much the former. By this explanation, 「木」 has the bounded form /ko/ (from PJ *kɨ → *kə → OJ /kə/ → NJ /ko/), the free form /ki/ (from PJ *kɨ + *i* = *kɨi → OJ /kɨy/ → NJ /ki/), the Azuma dialectal form /ke/ (from OJ /ke/), and now this shifted form /ku/.

    Does there exist any other word where four out of a possible five vowels are interchangeable?

    There don’t seem to be any proposed sound laws that would explain a shift from PJ *ɨ, *ə, or *ɨi → *u, OJ /ə/ or /ɨy/ → /u/, or MJ and NJ /o/ or /i/ → /u/. 「果物」 isn’t a particularly common or rare word, so it shouldn’t have any reason to be exempt from them.

    If 「果物」 were a dialectal form, I would expect to see a more concrete correspondence between /o/ and /u/, such as /kudamunu/ or /kedamunu/, but both these forms are unattested.

    The pronunciation /ku/ doesn’t exist in any other compounds I can find either, unlike /ko/ in 「木霊」 (/kodama/) or 「木陰」 (/kokage/).

    On these bases, I feel that the claim 「果物」 = 「木」 + 「だ」 + 「物」 is untenable.

    But what do you guys think? Do you have any suggestions that might resolve this enigma? ^_^

  4. 9 Nov 2017, 4:21am GMT-0500
    Lumfish joined the forum.