|ocean; sea||suckling pig|
|simp. and trad.
- Min Nan
|Kanji in this term|
|Grade: 2||Grade: S|
/iwo uka/ > /iru uka/ > /iruka/
Another possibility is that it was a borrowing from Ainu. Cf. Sakhalin Ainu (i)riku, Kuril Ainu rika 'whale'.
The 海豚 spelling is an example of ateji. The characters literally mean “sea pig”.
- 鯆 (rare)
- dolphin (the mammal)
As with many terms used in biology, this is commonly spelled in katakana, as イルカ.
- ^ Martine Robbeets (2005:190) Is Japanese Related to Korean, Tungusic, Mongolic and Turkic?