鶴、鷺、鸛: Crane, heron, stork

I keep confusing these fellows:

Kanji Japanese English Family Latin Portuguese
tsuru crane Gruidæ grus grou
sagi heron Ardeidæ ardea garça
kō-no-tori stork Ciconiidæ ciconia cegonha

An egret is basically a white heron (Jap.: shirasagi), especially those who develop fine plumes during mating season. The heron/egret distinction is cultural, not biological. The word “egret” is from Fr. aigrette, from aigron = heron.

It’s not easy to distinguish cranes, herons, and storks by appearance alone, since each category Continue reading “鶴、鷺、鸛: Crane, heron, stork”

Dare-ka and dare-mo

One thing that always bothered me in Japanese language pedagogy is the way that they teach quantifier words, like dareka = “who-ka” or daremo = “who-mo”: They’re just translated atomically, e.g. in this case as “someone” and “everyone”, with no further discussion. However, it’s clear that those -ka and -mo particles perform a set role when added to question words:

dare-ka who-KA someone
nani-ka what-KA something
itsu-ka when-KA sometime
ikutsu-ka how many-KA some, a few
dare-mo who-MO everyone
nani-mo what-MO everything
itsu-mo when-MO always
ikutsu-mo how many-MO a lot

What’s more, there was something less obvious that kept nagging me in the back of my mind: I felt like these uses of ka and mo somehow aren’t so different from their usual roles – ka as the question particle, and mo as the “too” particle. I thought “who + too = everyone” made sense, somehow, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.

Continue reading “Dare-ka and dare-mo”