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Re: [Lingo] 間 vs 間
- Date: Fri, 01 Jun 2012 18:00:21 -1000
- From: David J Iannucci <email@example.com>
- Subject: Re: [Lingo] 間 vs 間
- References: <4FC53221.firstname.lastname@example.org> <4FC5B292.email@example.com>
> On 12/05/30 05:31, steve wrote: > > How does one know when 間 is pronounced あいだ and when it's ま? I think the simple answer to this question is: there's no rule - you just have to know based on context. It seems to be entirely idiomatic. On Wed, May 30, 2012, at 14:39, Stephen A. Carter wrote: > My impression is that in idioms and set phrases, it's generally > ま. E.g.: Yes, I think so too, altough there are also idioms like the following (copy/pasting straight from WWWJDIC :-) 間に立つ 【あいだにたつ】 (exp,v5t) to mediate; to intervene and there are evidently cases where it can be read either way (ibid): 間を置く 【あいだをおく; まをおく】 (exp,v5k) to pause; to have a short intermission > And when it means "room," like in the fancy names hotels give their > banquet rooms, it's always 間. I think you meant to write ま here :-) As for the semantics of them, I don't think there's any space/time or abstract conceptual distinction. They both seem to mean something like an interval between endpoints. I have recently been doing some heavy-duty reading in Nara Period (aka "Old") Japanese (the oldest stage of the language attested with substantial texts), mostly poetry from 万葉集 (Man'youshuu), but also a little bit from 古事記歌謡 (Songs of the Kojiki) , 日本書紀 (Nihon Shoki), and others, under the guidance and tutelage of a professor who knows this stuff inside and out, and keeping it all in a searchable plaintext format I developed, with complete exegesis, notes, translation. All of which is just to explain how I know that.... Apparently both ま and あいだ are very old words, because I have a few examples of each in my "database", which are translated with the same meaning they have today. I don't recall that we discussed the etymology of either one in class, but since they seem to have the same meaning, there's a good likelihood that one of them is a borrowing, probably from Korean (there are evidently *quite* a few words in Japanese that are considered 和語 nowadays, but that are best understood as having been borrowed, mostly from Old Korean, during the centuries prior to what we have record of. Now that I think of it, it may well be that the /ai/ of あいだ is the same as the infinitive stem of あう (meet). Since あう is definitely native vocab, this leads to the (very tentative :-) speculation that ま may have been borrowed. Dave  This word, back then, still had a /p/ in it; it was something like "apiNta", where Nt represents a prenasalized /t/, which was then in the process of turning into the /d/ we have today.
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