Gong, bell, singing bells - do the Japanese words betray some parallels?

ThomasK

Senior Member
Belgium, Dutch
I have tried this at the Japanese forum, but my (question's) scope was too broad. Therefore I just try here. Background: it is almost self-evident that these instruments resemble one another in the way sound is produced --- or can I also say that they have quite some "semantic features" in common???

But I wondered if the terms and ideograms especially used for those instruments (which all resonate, I can say, I think) show any resemblance.

I think i see some (marked in colour) if I start from this Google translation, but I'd love to hear whether I can draw conclusions from it...
/ベ /シンギン ボウ
Gongu / beru /shingingu bōru

Orange - sound of music?
blue - bell?
green - an ending?

Anyone who can give me some idea?
 
  • Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Erm. Unsurprisingly, all these are direct loans from English ("gong", "bell", "singing bowl") which are written in katakana (the abugida which is mostly reserved for spelling foreign names and loanwords from the European languages phonetically). There are no ideograms here.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Really? Gong is not a Japanese or Chinese word? I had looked it up and thought I had seen it was of Asian origin, but it is more like Malaysian, I now notice.
    Good heavens, I must say I had not imagined that. I might have had a hunch when looking at singing bells.... But i now realize: beru = bell, which I had realized but what I had not realized that it is the English word in dsiguise: with the typical l/r confusion.
    I have just found a reference to a Japanse rin, which is similar and originally Japanese...
    However, I thought some of the signs seemed to refer to music ringing (the ones in blue). Those signs are Japanese, are they not?
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Really? Gong is not a Japanese or Chinese word?
    Originally it's Malay. In Japanese, however, it comes from English.
    However, I thought some of the signs seemed to refer to music ringing (the ones in blue). Those signs are Japanese, are they not?
    It's the katakana phonetic symbol "gu". Anyway, katakana is quite easy to recognize by its simple angular shapes (hiragana is generally roundish, and kanji, i.e. the ideograms, tend to be more complex, more often than not consisting of several radicals).
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Just several types of Japanese symbols in a text fragment for reference (the ideograms are written in red):
    1940年代最初実用デジタルコンピュータ登場して以来コンピュータ形態性能劇的変化してきた
     
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    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    I see: so you can combine kanjis and katakana in one sentence...

    But then there are no specific words for gong, bell, singing bells, because they have been borrowed from English.

    Just for fun: コンピュータ会社のアップルはアップルを販売していません. But I see very few kanjis: only for 'shop', French '"société", and for selling, I think. I believe ringo is a genuine Japanese word, but if I am not mistaken no kanjis are used for writing 'ringo'. (Google does not help here, it seems to me) Is there any logic for this?
     
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    Swatters

    Senior Member
    French - Belgium, some Wallo-Picard
    Ringo has a kanji spelling (林檎), it's just less commonly used than the hiragana spelling. Virtually every native word that's not a recent creation (the result of clipping or some onomatopoeia) does have a kanji spelling since there was a time Japanese was writen using kanji alone, but it might be rarely used, either because it's not longer taught in schools or because of internal trends.

    The general trend is that lexically full nouns, adjectives and verbs tend (but don't have to) be written in kanji while determiners, postpositions, adverbs, auxiliaries and inflexional morphology tends to be written in kana, but it's not exactly a hard rule. Fruits and animal names are fairly frequently written in kana alone, which probably explains why you encountered ringo in kana.

    To come back to bells and gongs, you're probably encountering the limitations of google translate here. There's native words for bells, chimes and gongs, that are usually written in kanji, for example 鐘 (kane), the general words for bells as a whole, or 鈴 (suzu) for smaller round bells. Both characters are also used in compounds for more specific kinds of bells, usually with a Sino-Japanese reading, like 鐘楼 (shōrō, belfry), 釣鐘 (tsurikane, the big ritual temple bells) or 本鈴 (honrei, the bell that sounds at the end/beginning of classes or a work shift)
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Very interesting information, thanks! The third paragraph is extremely interesting, pointing out the limitatations of Google.

    I am just amazed that the three bells do not have a common kanji. Or is the idea of compounds is not that common in Japanese? However, that does not seem to be the case when I read this page...
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    tsurikane and shōrō do have a common kanji, as you can see, it's just the reading which is different (kunyomi - a "native Japanese" reading - in the first word, and onyomi - a "Chinese" reading - in the second one).

    It should be noted that medieval Japanese imported many Chinese words as they were, just adapting the phonetics (hence the onyomi). Subsequently many "pseudo-Chinese" words of that kind were created in Japanese using the loaned roots. On the other hand, Japanese had to adapt the Chinese symbols for writing the native Japanese words as well (hence the kunyomi). The weirdest part of Japanese orthography is that occasionally two words will have an identical spelling but will be pronounced differently and have different meanings accordingly (cf. 風車, which, being pronounced as "fūsha", - a direct loan from Middle Chinese "pɨuŋ ʨʰia", - means just "a wind mill", but being pronounced as "kazaguruma" acquires a lot of other meanings, most notably "a pinwheel").
     
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