Thread: 日本語
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Old 2022-07-31, 13:11   #4
Dr Sardonicus
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Feb 2017

22·1,523 Posts

I'm not sure how well I'll be able to catch on, but I heartily approve of this thread. I will mention one Japanese word which has found its way into the English language, which seems peculiarly amenable to absorbing vocabulary from other languages.

A particular instance of this is the word "tycoon." And thereby hangs a tale...

On July 8, 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry, under orders from President Millard Fillmore, sailed into Edo (now Tokyo) Harbor with four warships. His mission was to deliver a letter to the Japanese leadership, requesting establishment of trade relations. Practically a defining instance of "gunboat diplomacy." The first expedition did not succeed in establishing trade relations, but Perry returned on 13 February 1854 with more ships and more men, and secured a treaty (Treaty of Kanagawa, signed on March 31, 1854). Fillmore had been Zachary Taylor's Vice-President, and succeeded him when Taylor died in office (July 9, 1850).

Japan, under the Tokugawa Shogunate, had isolated itself from the rest of the world for well over 200 years, with the exceptions of a small Dutch trade concession on an artificial island off Nagasaki, and trade with China.

The Shogunate was a hereditary military dictatorship. Japan had an Emperor, and a hereditary caste system which had been imposed by the ruler who had ended a seemingly unending series of battles between the local warlords (Daimyo), and unified Japan into a single nation - Hideyoshi, the Taikō or "peasant king." In this system, peasants were the caste below the Samurai, who were the warriors. No more "peasant kings."

The Taikō had also forbad the lower castes from possessing weapons, which engendered a type of martial arts among the peasants, based on the use of farm implements as weapons.

After he died, there was a power struggle which Tokugawa Ieyasu won after a decisive military victory, and the Tokugawa Shogunate was established.

Anyway, when the Americans came knocking on the door, the Japanese were not about to explain their internal politics to the barbarians, so in talking to the Americans, they referred to the Shogun as their "Great Lord/Prince," which is pronounced like tai kun.

Last fiddled with by Dr Sardonicus on 2022-07-31 at 13:12 Reason: xignif posty
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