User talk:G Purevdorj

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Japanese etymology[edit]

Hi G Purevdorj,

Thanks for your note about Japanese etymology!

You are correct that a full etymology would include not only an explanation of the components of the word or earlier forms, but also a discussion of earlier forms, and indeed ideally a description of how it changed to the current form, and when various forms were extant, together with attestations.

Currently, few words in any language have anywhere close to that detail.

I don’t mean to be snide; as you can see from Wiktionary talk:Etymology, I’m a strong advocate for comprehensive etymologies, but we are far from that level.

The only Japanese word that I know that has any such details is ありがとう.

See also:

…where simply decomposing a compound into pieces is seen as useful.

My understanding of Wiki philosophy is that it is preferable to add some useful information now, rather than to wait until a complete answer can be found.

Further, as you say, breaking a compound into pieces is useful to students of a language, and as there are, it’s safe to say, far more students of Japanese on Wiktionary than there are Japanese linguists, it certainly suits our audience well enough.

If you can help with the Japanese entries (or indeed wherever your pleasure may lie), we’d all be most appreciative – welcome! (ようこそ!)

Nbarth (email) (talk) 22:54, 6 July 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for your detailed answer and, let's say, introduction! My main objection to the approach to Japanese words in question is that many students of Japanese really think that words like "mondai" consist or at least at some point of Japanese language history consisted of two morphemes, and that the wiktionary Japanese lanugage approach to it tends to enforce such a misconception. But I think you're aware of what you're doing and have weighted the advantages and disadvantages of this approach for yourself.
As for me contributing to wiktionary: I do enjoy improving my tools, but I'm not enthusiastic enough to create them (for Mongolian). And I usually refrain from contributing when I lack expert knowledge (as is true of any other language and of the lexicological and lexicographical parts of linguistics). Fare thee well! G Purevdorj 19:05, 7 July 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for elaborating your concerns G Purevdorj;
you’re right that etymology in agglutinative languages is fraught, and that speakers (and students) of Sinoxenic languages tend to conflate characters, syllables, morphemes, and words, and consider all characters free morphemes.
I’m sure in time we’ll have proper Japanese etymologies, and I’ll work to improve this!
If I feel peppy, I’ll try classifying Appendix:1000 Japanese basic words as 和語・漢語・外来語 at least, and indicate some 国字, 和製漢語 and 和製英語 too…
Nbarth (email) (talk) 22:50, 7 July 2008 (UTC)