Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Honour with your "O"

In Japanese, people honour certain things. They do so with adding the prefix "O" to many different words. This is to honour the spirit or essence of a thing or idea, this is a sense which flows out of Japanese animism, what is now seen as the Shinto religion. O can be added to many different things to make the idea of the word honoured. Some examples are money, which is kaneh, becomes o-kaneh or water, mizu, becomes o-mizu. There seems to be a rhyme to much of this as food objects often get this as do things dealing with children and babies to transfer positive energy onto the objects. Here is a list of a few you might find interesting....

  • meat=o-niku
  • bento box=o-bento
  • diapers=o-mutsu
  • temple=o-tera
  • tea=o-cha
  • hot water=o-yu
  • grandma=o-baasan
  • incense=o-koh
  • food=go-han (this is because o-han would sound strange, so go is used)
  • new=o-new (yes this is Japlish but it still uses o)
  • sushi roll=o-maki zushi
  • hand pressed sushi=o-nigiri zushi
  • sleep=o-yasumi
  • to wait=o-machi
  • telephone=o-denwa
The list goes on for a while, and is quite interesting noting what the Japanese honour, telephone being very interesting as I have seen my fair share of Japanese honouring their telephones around town. Alternatively you can use "San" (Mr./Ms.) when speaking about animals and strangely enough corporations and stores?!?. So boar (inoshishi) becomes inoshishi-san, Toyota is Toyota-san, rabbit is usagi-san and Nikon is Nikon-san. Although cute only the company san's apply to adult use, where honouring the animals is seen as child's business and we adults are to refrain from using it. Although I like this idea and have had a few Japanese friends laughing at my calling Rabbits Mr. Rabbit!

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