Thread: Kokyu
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Old 12-22-2008, 05:23 PM   #27
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Kokyu

Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Yesterday a training partner pointed me to Nelson's "The Original Modern Reader's Japanese-English Character Dictionary: Classic Edition" (Tuttle Publishing, 2004 ISBN 0804819653, 9780804819657) entry about "kokyu".

In said entry kokyu is translated as: breath, respiration; knack, secret; tone, time; kokyu suru breathe.

(bold mine)

So he left me more confused as I usually am. If someone asks what i.e. kokyu nage means can I say it means "knack throw" or "secret throw" instead the usual "breath throw"?

Hello Demetrio,

This edition of Nelson is the old edition. It was revised and updated in 1997. The ISBN of the new edition is 0-8048-2036-8.

In any case, if you can cope with a dictionary like Nelson, you might want to consider a general Japanese dictionary, not a dictionary of kanji. Nelson is simply a list of many Chinese characters, with the readings that have occurred. It is not a general Japanese dictionary.

If you use a dictionary like the Kojien or the Kenkyusha New Japanese English Dictionary, you will see that こきゅうhas three main meanings: (a) breath; (2) coordination, teamwork; (3) having the knack, or knowing how to do something. There are many examples given, so that you can see how the term is actually used in modern Japanese.

There are many compounds given, all of which have to do with breathing, but kokyu-nage is not one of them. However, you cannot simply combine any one of the meanings of kokyu given in Nelson with nage and assume that this is what it could mean. It has a more specialized use.

As another example, take irimi, as in irimi-nage. Irimi is a compound of two characters: 入 and 身, but you will not find the combination in Nelson or any other general dictionary. So, what do you do to find the meaning of the word? Do you choose one of the meanings of iri and combine it with one of the meanings of mi? If so, you can find some bizarre combinations (like setting [of the sun in] a container).

By the way, if you have access to the Kojien, the reference to kokyu is on p.933 and for the Kenkyusha dictionary, there is a long entry on pp. 960-961.

Best wishes,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 12-22-2008 at 05:25 PM.

P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
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