Why is sushi 寿司 instead of 酢米 or something?

Japanese, general discussion on the language
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o-bake
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Why is sushi 寿司 instead of 酢米 or something?

Post by o-bake » Mon 12.29.2008 5:48 am

The second would be so easy to remember :)

spin13
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Re: Why is sushi 寿司 instead of 酢米 or something?

Post by spin13 » Mon 12.29.2008 7:09 am

o-bake wrote:The second would be so easy to remember :)

I hate to break it to you, but Japanese wasn't created to make things easy for you to remember.

o-bake
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Re: Why is sushi 寿司 instead of 酢米 or something?

Post by o-bake » Mon 12.29.2008 3:51 pm

spin13 wrote:I hate to break it to you, but Japanese wasn't created to make things easy for you to remember.

Thanks. My comment was just a joke, but this is a serious question I'd like the answer to. Although I'm a beginner, the kanji for most nouns I've seen make at least some amount of sense. This doesn't, to me anyway, and the second set of kanji seems like an obvious way to write sushi (vinegared rice).

If there's a reason sushi is written the first way I'd be interested to know why from a historical standpoint. It doesn't really have much to do with remembering the kanji, really.

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two_heads_talking
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Re: Why is sushi 寿司 instead of 酢米 or something?

Post by two_heads_talking » Mon 12.29.2008 4:09 pm

o-bake wrote:
spin13 wrote:I hate to break it to you, but Japanese wasn't created to make things easy for you to remember.

Thanks. My comment was just a joke, but this is a serious question I'd like the answer to. Although I'm a beginner, the kanji for most nouns I've seen make at least some amount of sense. This doesn't, to me anyway, and the second set of kanji seems like an obvious way to write sushi (vinegared rice).

If there's a reason sushi is written the first way I'd be interested to know why from a historical standpoint. It doesn't really have much to do with remembering the kanji, really.


You do realize that sushi is more than just vinegared rice right? In fact, the rice that was packed around the fish was originally discarded as the salt content was just too high. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sushi

If you read the article, you'll realize that vinegar wasn't added until later..but to answer your question and taken from the article linked above..

The word sushi itself comes from an archaic grammatical form of a word that is no longer used in other contexts; literally, "sushi" means "it's sour".[2]^ Japanese Food Culture. "Sushi". http://www.japanesefoodculture.net/sushi/. Retrieved on 2008-07-26.

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hyperconjugated
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Re: Why is sushi 寿司 instead of 酢米 or something?

Post by hyperconjugated » Mon 12.29.2008 5:10 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ateji

"In modern Japanese, ateji (当て字 or 宛字 or あてじ, ateji?) are kanji used phonetically to represent native or borrowed words. This is analogous to man'yōgana in pre-modern Japanese.

For example, sushi is often written with the ateji 寿司. The character 寿 means "one's natural life span" and 司 means "to administer", neither of which have anything to do with the food. Ateji as a means of representing loanwords have been largely superseded in modern Japanese by the use of katakana, although many ateji coined in earlier eras still linger on.
..."
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