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Re: [Lingo] 上手・上手い

2009/3/18 steve smith <>:

> I recently received an email from a friend that used the word 上手い・う まい.
>  It's the first time I'd seen it but was familiar already with 上 手・じょうず.
>  These two look pretty similar in meaning with the exception that one is an
> i adjective and the other is a na adjective.

Not quite. 上手い usually means "excellent", whereas 上手 is almost always
used to mean "skillful" or "good at". For example, some 焼きそば can be
上手い (actually, it would usually be written with just the hiragana うまい,
AFAIK), but the person who prepared it would be
焼きそばを作るのが上手だね。Alternatively, said person could have 焼きそばを上手く作ったなぁ。But
that person could not have 焼きそばを上手に作った、to the best of my knowledge.

> Does anyone know if there is a reason for having the two words other than 'it
> just happened that way?'  I'm sure there are are other words like that and I'm
> just curious.

What you are seeing, as far as I can tell, is the different between
大和語 and 漢語。Just as English has words of Germanic origin and words of
Latin (or Greek) origin that mean the same thing, or almost the same
thing (e.g. "to say" and "to expound"), Japanese has native Japanese
words that mean the same thing or almost the same thing as imported
Chinese words. Often, these are written with the same kanji,
(especially in the case of verbs), e.g. 朝ごはんand 朝食 or 求める and 請求する。


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