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Thread: Suffix -chan related to German -chen and Dutch -ke(n) ?

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    (what a tasty dog) A ke bono kane kotto's Avatar
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    Suffix -chan related to German -chen and Dutch -ke(n) ?

    Japanese is an Altaic language. It is related first to Korean, then Mongol, then Turkic languages. Suffixes are common in all these languages. European languages do not have suffixes like Tanaka-san, Satou-kun or Hiromi-chan. German and Dutch are exceptions. Both have a nearly perfect equivalent for the familiar and affective diminutive -chan. Germans use -chen, as in Gretchen (little Greta). The Dutch/Flemish say -ke or -ken, as in manneken (little boy) or with a given name (Tinne -> Tinneke).

    The similarity is striking. It looks the same, and means the same. The Dutch usage is especially widespread. By chance, the Dutch were also the only Europeans allowed to trade and exchange cultural ideas and learning with the Japanese during the Edo period. Could it be that the Japanese copied the -ken and transposed it to -chan ? I know that it cannot be the other way round, because -ken has been use since medieval times in Dutch (well before the first contacts with Japan).

    Or would Dutch and German have inherited this from ancient invaders who spoke an Altaic language, like the Huns ? The Huns were after all closely associated with Germanic tribes and merged with them at one point. It could be one of the few words that they left behind them in Europe.
    If it is just a coincidence, it really is a good one.
    I like llX

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    Sengoku Daimyo AJBryant's Avatar
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    Except -chan is a rather late arrival in the honorifics category, generally being considered a corruption of -san, which itself is a corruption of the older -sama.


    Tony

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    (what a tasty dog) A ke bono kane kotto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AJBryant View Post
    Except -chan is a rather late arrival in the honorifics category, generally being considered a corruption of -san, which itself is a corruption of the older -sama.
    How late exactly ? Corruptions often happen for a reason, because of a need for a new term. If the Japanese noticed that the Dutch used -ken, they could have created a new suffix from -san to convey the same meaning. It's not totally impossible.

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    Sengoku Daimyo AJBryant's Avatar
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    Considering how *few* Japanese had access or exposure to the Dutch, that is REALLY far-fetched.

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    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Doesn't Chinese also have a system of honorifics ? You don't need to reach to 外来語. That's probly from where the concept of どのーさまーさんーちゃん was adapted into the language starting in Heian times.

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    Somehow I agree with AJBryant...

  7. #7
    Ibg[΍ masatoshi's Avatar
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    -chan/-kun are suffixes for the loved ones (e.g. children, lover, good friend same age or younger)
    german -chen is a diminutive and you can't compare it tou chan/kun.

    chen can apply even for objects, while chan/kun can't.
    you cannot say sono kuruma-chan ga hoshii...
    but you can say: ich liebe dieses Autochen or Autolein (chen - lein basically same)

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    Sengoku Daimyo AJBryant's Avatar
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    Judging from this, and your thread suggesting katakana were derived from European letters, I think you have a misguided and somewhat simplistic view of Japanese....

  9. #9
    LovePeaceHappiness
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    Wow! Fount of all knowledge.

    AJsan, Your quotes...

    "Except -chan is a rather late arrival in the honorifics category, generally being considered a corruption of -san, which itself is a corruption of the older -sama."

    "Considering how *few* Japanese had access or exposure to the Dutch, that is REALLY far-fetched.'

    "Judging from this, and your thread suggesting katakana were derived from European letters, I think you have a misguided and somewhat simplistic view of Japanese...."

    AJ ... I read your bio on your website, and I suggest others do too.
    http://www.sengokudaimyo.com/

    Impressive. But why are you so judgemental? What are your sources? Are you the Supreme Knowledge Keeper of Japanese history, along with your other distinguished titles?
    Could anyone else have an alternative view? Such as, the Egyptians had similar "suffixes of endearment", which predated your answers by ??? 2500 years or so... eeee-gads... Somebody giving ANOTHER opinion?!

    Just my humble opinion, but I think you are being too harsh.

    Harmonize maybe?
    Last edited by EdZiomek; Nov 8, 2009 at 01:17. Reason: grammer

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