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-   -   The etymology of Kote Gaeshi (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15964)

sorokod 04-02-2009 02:13 AM

The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Well, more specifically of kote. In Saito's "Traditional Aikido", the kanji for kote are: 小手 which is literally "small hand". What is the meaning and origin of this spelling?

chuunen baka 04-02-2009 04:33 AM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Quote:

David Soroko wrote: (Post 227631)
Well, more specifically of kote. In Saito's "Traditional Aikido", the kanji for kote are: 小手 which is literally "small hand". What is the meaning and origin of this spelling?

My favourite Japanese dictionary just gives "forearm" as the first definition. As a compound it sort of makes sense.

Erick Mead 04-02-2009 04:34 AM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Quote:

David Soroko wrote: (Post 227631)
Well, more specifically of kote. In Saito's "Traditional Aikido", the kanji for kote are: 小手 which is literally "small hand". What is the meaning and origin of this spelling?

In Chinese, xiao 小 "small" is said to derive from the associative compound of the middle line dividing something into two smaller parts. Kote is the line at which the hand is divided from the forearm.

sorokod 04-02-2009 05:08 AM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Kendo/Naginata people also have Kote with the kanji: 籠手 (confined hand?) sometimes translated as gauntlet.

Voitokas 04-02-2009 07:13 AM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Hepburn's 1867 dictionary gives it as [ 小手 ] defensive armour for the wrist and hand, i.e. the gauntlet in traditional armour...

sorokod 04-03-2009 03:49 PM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
This is confusing. I wonder how the equivalent technique is called/spelled in Daito Ryu.

Josh Reyer 04-03-2009 09:16 PM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
It's not confusing. "Kote" refers to the part of your arm from your wrist to your elbow. It is written 小手, "small" and "hand". It is contrasted with "takate" 高手, "high" and "hand", which is the part of your arm running from your elbow to your shoulder. Armor gauntlets are referred to as "kote" because that's the part of the body they protect. Likewise, the kendo "men" protects your "men" (face), and "dou" protects your "dou" (torso). The armor is often written with the same kanji as the body part, but sometimes 籠手 is used instead. 籠手 is almost never used in "kotegaeshi". (I say "almost never" because as soon as I say "never used", like I want to, someone will bring up a book or teacher that uses it. But I've never seen it in any Japanese aikido material.)

sorokod 04-04-2009 10:27 AM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Quote:

Joshua Reyer wrote: (Post 227723)
It's not confusing. "Kote" refers to the part of your arm from your wrist to your elbow. It is written 小手, "small" and "hand"

Just trying to understand, if "hand" is the part of the arm between the wrist and the fingers, what is the logic in calling a "part of your arm from your wrist to your elbow" a "small hand"?

Flintstone 04-04-2009 01:08 PM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Quote:

David Soroko wrote: (Post 227734)
Just trying to understand, if "hand" is the part of the arm between the wrist and the fingers, what is the logic in calling a "part of your arm from your wrist to your elbow" a "small hand"?

This is Japanese, not English. Te is from the nailtips to the shoulder, same as Ashi goes from toes to hip.

sorokod 04-04-2009 02:25 PM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Quote:

Te is from the nailtips to the shoulder
I have no Japanese, so I can not argue with this. However, this is not what is called a "hand" in English.

Flintstone 04-04-2009 03:04 PM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Quote:

David Soroko wrote: (Post 227741)
I have no Japanese, so I can not argue with this. However, this is not what is called a "hand" in English.

Sure enough. Languages are too tricky most of the time ;).

sorokod 04-04-2009 03:11 PM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Indeed, what are we to do now with tegatana, katatedori, etc... ?

Erick Mead 04-04-2009 06:01 PM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Quote:

David Soroko wrote: (Post 227741)
I have no Japanese, so I can not argue with this. However, this is not what is called a "hand" in English.

If it makes you feel any better, it is not in Chinese, either-- 手 is a (rough) drawing of, well, -- a hand -- and it means -- well, just "hand."

Japanese --- :freaky:

David Yap 04-05-2009 01:39 AM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Quote:

Erick Mead wrote: (Post 227750)
If it makes you feel any better, it is not in Chinese, either-- 手 is a (rough) drawing of, well, -- a hand -- and it means -- well, just "hand."

Japanese --- :freaky:

As a native Chinese, I can say that the whole arm is also referred as 手. Kote 小手 specifically refers to that part of the arm - the wrist.

FWIW

David Y

Erick Mead 04-05-2009 08:50 AM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Quote:

David Yap wrote: (Post 227754)
As a native Chinese, I can say that the whole arm is also referred as 手. Kote 小手 specifically refers to that part of the arm - the wrist.

And 手臂 is "arm" -- but the question, I thought, was etymology -- not current use. It is a example of a metonymy -- using the name of one thing as indicative of another thing because of a close association between them. The issue is which way the metonymy has occurred from "arm" to mean "hand" or from "hand" to mean "arm". Clearly, it is the latter.

The classical denotative meaning of 手 is "hand". 手腕 means literally "手" "bends" [ 腕 ] which is the "wrist" -- not the elbow or shoulder, which also bend, creating a ambiguity if 手 was originally primary for "arm" and only secondary for "hand." As mentioned above, 手臂 "arm" -- if 臂 is decomposed -- is deemed, etymologically, to refer to the 肉 "flesh" that 辟 "governs" 手 "hand." The "flesh" of the arm drives the hand, not vice versa.

jennifer paige smith 04-05-2009 11:15 AM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Quote:

Erick Mead wrote: (Post 227761)
if 臂 is decomposed ...... The "flesh" of the arm drives the hand, not vice versa.

Hey, this reminds me of a joke.

Q: Did you hear that they dug up Beethoven's Corpse?
A: Really?
Q: Yeah, do you know what it was doing?
A: What?
PL: Decomposing!::dead:

Erick Mead 04-05-2009 12:28 PM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Quote:

Jennifer Smith wrote: (Post 227769)
Hey, this reminds me of a joke.

Q: Did you hear that they dug up Beethoven's Corpse?
A: Really?
Q: Yeah, do you know what it was doing?
A: What?
PL: Decomposing!::dead:

Wait for it ... <<Cue Chorus>>
Quote:

♪♫ They're decomposing composers
there's less of them every year
You can say what you like to Debussy
but there's not much of him left to 'ear.. ♪♫

Claude Achille Debussy, died 1918
Christophe Willibald Gluck, died 1787
Carl Maria von Weber, not at all well 1825, died 1826
Giacomo Meyerbeer, still alive 1863, not still alive 1864
Modest Mussorgski, 1880, going to parties; no fun anymore, 1881
Johann Nepomuk Hummel, chatting away nineteen to the dozen with his mates down the pub every evening 1836,
1837, nothing

sorokod 04-05-2009 01:31 PM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Thank you Eric for the informative post (#15).
Presumably by "arm" you mean "the whole superior limb" and not the technical "the part of the superior limb between the shoulder and the elbow". ( http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=arm ) :)

jennifer paige smith 04-05-2009 04:22 PM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Quote:

Erick Mead wrote: (Post 227771)
Wait for it ... <<Cue Chorus>>

hahahahahahahahahahaha:)

Erick Mead 04-05-2009 10:54 PM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Quote:

David Soroko wrote: (Post 227774)
Thank you Eric for the informative post (#15).
Presumably by "arm" you mean "the whole superior limb" and not the technical "the part of the superior limb between the shoulder and the elbow". ( http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=arm ) :)

Actually, by "arm" I thought we were referring to a phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range... but perhaps this explains the overall miscommunication... ;)

Josh Reyer 04-05-2009 11:13 PM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
At issue here seems to a fundamental misunderstanding. We divide the hand from the arm as two distinct body parts, but there's no reason why one must do that. That the 手 character is an ideograph of the hand and fingers doesn't mean it ever meant purely just that. It simply indicates the most distinctive feature of the whole body part.

Further, David Yap's info that 手 also refers to the whole arm in Chinese is quite relevant even from an etymological point of view. Body part words, being very commonly used, are extraordinarily stable. The words "hand", "wrist", "arm", "elbow", and "shoulder" mean the same that they did 1500 years ago when "English" was first born. And even further back, as evidenced by the German words "Hand", "Arm", "Ellbogen", and "Schulter", all perfectly corresponding with their English cognates.

That said, drawing comparisons from Chinese, particular Chinese characters, and Japanese is always dicey. In addition to the usual issues of linguistic drift due to time and culture, the use of Chinese characters in Japanese, while relatively standardized now, was for the longest time very ad hoc. Particularly when it comes to Chinese texts written by Japanese, you had people being taught (with varying degrees of success) how to read and write Chinese, without achieving functional, idiomatic fluency in the language. This is why many kanbun texts written by Japanese seem awkward and/or wrong to Chinese readers. And it's one reason why, for example, the Japanese word ude, meaning "arm" is written 腕, the Chinese word for wrist, and why hiji, meaning elbow, is written 肘, 肱, and 臂, which mean "elbow", "forearm" and "arm" in Chinese, respectively. The general meanings of Chinese were considered when matching orthography with lexicon, but not the historical etymologies of the characters themselves.

So, back to David Soroko's original question: why is "kote" written with "small" and "hand"? Because since way back, te in Japanese referred to the whole arm from shoulder to fingers. This is attested in the Man'yoshu collection of poems, which was compiled in the mid-700s AD. Possibly influenced by Chinese ideas of medicine and anatomy (and not so much by Chinese orthography). The word frequently used today to represent "arm", ude, is in all probability derived from te. Accordingly, the upper part of the te was called takate 高手, and the smaller, thinner part of the arm was called kote 小手.

Erick Mead 04-06-2009 01:32 AM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Quote:

Joshua Reyer wrote: (Post 227796)
At issue here seems to a fundamental misunderstanding. We divide the hand from the arm as two distinct body parts, but there's no reason why one must do that.

Of course. And there is no reason not to assume that the kunyomi original "te" has the whole limb as its reference field. But that does not address his question -- which flows from the written characters -- not the purely oral language.

Quote:

Joshua Reyer wrote: (Post 227796)
That the 手 character is an ideograph of the hand and fingers doesn't mean it ever meant purely just that. It simply indicates the most distinctive feature of the whole body part.

The Chinese character goes back to the Zhou with bronze inscriptions between 1000-300 B.C. -- plainly depicting a "hand." In fact, a hand in the correct curved shape of grasping, at that.

臂 "arm" is later in the Qin and Warrings States -- ca. mid second cent. B.C. with known roots to Middle Chinese:


-- I have no idea whether the metonymy occurred in the translation into manyogana or the process of Chinese developing broader connotation from that time until the sixth or seventh cent. A.D. but the Modern Chinese suggests it was later, in translation.

Quote:

Joshua Reyer wrote: (Post 227796)
Further, David Yap's info that 手 also refers to the whole arm in Chinese is quite relevant even from an etymological point of view.

Body part words, being very commonly used, are extraordinarily stable. The words "hand", "wrist", "arm", "elbow", and "shoulder" mean the same that they did 1500 years ago when "English" was first born.

I don't think that David (Yap) was suggesting that merely because 手 can be used to refer to "arm" that it is the common way to do so (it isn't). It may allow the suggestion that the expression might have available in the seventh century for reduction to manyogana. But it most likely does not, the common expressions, in modern Chinese are not single characters like 臂, but compounds, and they indicate the preservation of the reference distinction by joining them to mean the whole of the arm -- i.e. 手臂 and 手膀 -- both, lit.-- "hand+arm."

However, the modern Chinese usage David reports may more easily be a shortened back-formation from these later compounds. In classical Chinese at the time of the adoption of manyogana compound forms (particularly of common terms) would have been very rare, almost non-existent. Since the contextual distinction would be (usually) obvious, this is a good candidate for a shortened expression.

A close parallel with our Japanese example here, on a much shorter timescale, would be modern British English which refers to "telly" -- which is the shortened first part of a invented compound, "tele-vision," derived from previously unassociated Greek roots. If one tried to read the term with its Greek root it would say "I am going to watch the 'far away' ..."

Flintstone 04-06-2009 02:22 AM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Thank you, Joshua.

Josh Reyer 04-06-2009 07:43 AM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Quote:

Erick Mead wrote: (Post 227797)
Of course. And there is no reason not to assume that the kunyomi original "te" has the whole limb as its reference field. But that does not address his question -- which flows from the written characters -- not the purely oral language.

No, the characters are irrelevant here; they are merely orthography. The Japanese words for body parts preceded any Japanese written language, native or Chinese. "Te" is not a "kunyomi" unless we are talking about how to vocalize characters; the word existed before the 手 character was used to write it, and exists now beyond the character. You are going about this in exactly the wrong way. First the words existed, and then characters were assigned to them, in a very ad hoc manner. The 手 character does not wholly represent the Japanese concept (nor the Chinese, I daresay), it is merely an orthographic marker for that concept.

Erick Mead 04-06-2009 08:10 AM

Re: The etymology of Kote Gaeshi
 
Quote:

Joshua Reyer wrote: (Post 227799)
No, the characters are irrelevant here; they are merely orthography. The Japanese words for body parts preceded any Japanese written language, native or Chinese. "Te" is not a "kunyomi" unless we are talking about how to vocalize characters; the word existed before the 手 character was used to write it, and exists now beyond the character.

I am not arguing that -- and I agree with you that "te" is not a Chinese vocalization. But his question had to do with the disconnect in the orthography -- 小手 -- from a modern text, and not the preexisting kunyomi or the "pure nihongo," if you prefer, (whatever it was). It is not a Chinese compound, and at the dates you are talking about -- it could not have been, as they were not used. That makes it a synthetic Japanese expression -- in Chinese script.

We have very little way to know the "pure nihongo" that does NOT go through the manyogana for the preliterate early Japanese. Struggling with the orthography is unavoidable in etymology of such basic words. Kojiki-Den almost certainly has the word "手" discussed -- and I wonder what Norinaga has to say about it?
:)


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