The cognate thread

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Facial, Feb 27, 2007.

  1. Facial Valued Senior Member

    I shall spin this thread off from a very interesting discussion from the Art/Culture linguistics thread titled "European and East Asian languages"

    We see that etymologically, Chinese has a very large number of words that form the basis of numerous Japanese words. Estimates range that Chinese loanwords make up 60-70% of the Japanese lexicon, some pronounced in the native Japanese way, and others directly off the Chinese pronunciation.

    Unlucky for me, I cannot recognize those which have native pronunciation, as they require understanding of the written Chinese, which I do not have.

    But then again, I have managed to identify quite a few Chinese cognates from the Japanese spoken in numerous anime. This is from my rudimentary understanding of spoken Mandarin. I have copied what I thought of then in the Art/Culture thread, with translations:

    jing tsa - ke satsu (police)
    gong yuen - gon yen (park)
    du su guan - to sho kan (library)
    du - doku (poison)
    dao - to (knife, sword)
    jiao zi - gyo za (dumpling)
    han zi - kanji (Kanji)
    gan jue - kanji (reckoning)
    an xin - an shin (assured/relaxed)
    dan xin - shin pai (worry)
    huo - ho (fire)
    sui - sui (water)
    zhong guo - chu goku (China)
    han guo - kan koku? (Korea)
    szepuan - nippon - riben - nihon (Japan)

    In the meantime, I've come up with a few more:

    xin zhang - shin zo (heart attack)
    di zhen - di zhe (earthquake)
    long - ryuu (dragon)
    tien - ten (heaven, sky)
    guo - go (country, gen. form)
    ping guo - rin go (apple)
    si - shi (death)
    hao - ha (yes, affirmative)

    These are the words that are easiest for me to understand. I encourage people to contribute to the list, so I can see more cognates as well.

    In the meantime, my intermediate understanding of Spanish has led to expanding upon the Latinate forms of English, so I can better understand whether or not something is French or Latin in origin. These are exceptions to direct borrowings from Spanish, ie cafeteria, alligator.

    for ex, I predicted the existence of the word antipathetic in English from Sp. antipatico, before I learned the validity of it as an adjective of antipathy.

    A "natatorium" is a swimming pool. Sp. nadar, to swim.

    Which one is from Latin? autumn or fall? Besides the obvious clues, from Sp. otono we see that it's autumn.

    An abogado, a lawyer, is one who advocates.

    An hombre de negocios, a businessman, is a man of negotiations.

    If you're sick, or enfermo, you go to an infirmary.

    You dance, bailar, in a ball.

    If you do not like something, no me gusta, then it does not appeal to your taste, or the gustatory system.

    There are thousands of others, for both Sino-Japanese and Latin-English.
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  3. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

    I'll add this to your list of Chinese-Japanese cognates: Japanese 貴族 (きぞく kizoku), and Chinese 贵族 (guì zú) "nobleman".

    Kizoku is a Japanese name I once made for myself, loosely based off Athelwulf. I learned a night or two ago the Chinese for it and learned that they're cognates. As one can expect, they even use the same characters, although the Chinese government has simplified the first character 貴 (guì) to 贵, while Japanese still uses the traditional form.

    An interesting thing, a continuation on my previous mention of simplification: This is one of the few words for which Japanese has started using the simplified version of the character. The Chinese government simplified 國 (guǒ) to 国. Thus, 中国 is both Chinese and Japanese for "China". In the former, it's zhōng guǒ; the latter, naka koku.

    Also, about guǒ and koku: I remember looking at Cantonese, a language which retains a lot of the final consonant sounds that Mandarin lost. I remember that 國 is something like "gwok", which pretty well mirrors koku. The relations among the different varieties of Chinese and their influence on neighboring languages is really fascinating.

    I've always wondered about Dutch taal "language". I can't recognize any English or German word in it, so I can't find a cognate. Does anyone know anything about this?

    I think I did the exact same thing. I think I thought of it as a theoretical word one day, and then a time later I read it in a book and was like "Aha!".

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  5. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

    Is go really a Japanese word for "country"? I thought it was just koku, and go was "language". But I only know a few words in Japanese, so yeah, I could be ignorant here.

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  7. Facial Valued Senior Member

    I think you're right, but I haven't looked up anything yet.

    "koku" would be the proper word/suffix for "country" in Japanese.
    So I'm guessing "go" is either from the Chinese "hua" or native.

    I am very unaware of languages in general as well. Thanks for pointing that out.
  8. Facial Valued Senior Member

    I thought of a few more pairs of words, but I can't remember them for the time being. I'll try posting them up later.

    Strange how foreign and alien something sounds, until you learn the etymology of words - then the understanding becomes obvious and you can start to use words a little beyond their conventional definitions.
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    It's shui in Mandarin.
    "Szepuan" is not pinyin transliteration so I'm not sure what you mean there. Ri ben is the Mandarin for Japan, literally "sun root," i.e., the place the sun comes from in the morning.
    That doesn't hold up. R usually comes from Chinese L. Ping would come out as pei in Japanese.
    Hao means "good" in Mandarin and would only be used as an affirmative in the sense of, "That's okay." Shi, "(It) is (so)," is more common for "yes." But most common is to repeat the verb out of the question: Ni dong ma? -- Dong. "Do you understand? -- Understand."

    I always hear Japanese people say hai, not ha. That is identical to the way the Cantonese say "yes." Hai is the verb "be" in Cantonese, one of the tiny percentage of the Chinese vocabulary that is a different word from Mandarin, not just different phonetics. I don't know if the Japanese borrowed it or it's just a coincidence. I doubt that it goes back to the missionary days because the H would have turned into a K.
    Actually, Spanish cafeteria is a borrowing from French, normalized into Spanish form. "Alligator" is a corruption of Spanish el lagarto, "lizard." We have a woeful record for bungling borrowings from Spanish: "lariat" from la reata, "buckaroo" from vaquero, "bebop" from arriba, "chick" from chica, "tamale" back-formed from tamales which is the plural of tamal.
    German is no help, they call it Herbst, cognate with "harvest."
    It's the pedigreed Teutonic root tal-, for "speak" in Danish and Swedish.
    Koku is indeed the kan reading of ancient Chinese gwok, whose final consonant survives in Tong hua (Cantonese). Go is, I believe, Chinese yu (not you), another word for "language." Cf. guo yu, "national language," i.e. "Mandarin."
  10. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

    Ah! Is it related to "talk"?
  11. Facial Valued Senior Member

    Ah, Fraggle to the rescue. I suppose someone with formal knowledge of Pinyin can help us considerably.

    I have no such background knowledge in Pinyin spelling, but I have some insight into pronunciation.

    Shui is the correct spelling for water - I mistakenly typed sui since it really sounds more like it - it's pronounced about 2/3rds of the way as 's' and 1/3rd 'sh' .

    'Szepuan' is a rough approximation of the original word for Japan in Middle Chinese. And so thus, it probably would have difficulty being fitted into modern Pinyin.
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    All I can get online is that "talk" is related to "tale," which is predictably (by Grimm's Law) from Indo-European del-. The similarity to the Norse and Dutch words is pretty suspcious.
    You should study Pinyin, it's pretty straightforward if you know the sounds. I was taught Yale (which is very nice if you're trying to learn the sounds at the same time) but I picked up Pinyin easily. I still struggle with Wade-Giles
    SZ sure looks like someone's struggle to transcribe the sound that's written R in Pinyin. And P without the apostrophe is Wade-Giles for Pinyin B. So "szepuan" is starting to look an awful lot like ri-ben. After all, some Westerner heard it as "Japan." Probably a Frenchman because their J is very similar to Chinese R.

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