Mana from heaven

I was trying to figure out if and how made (until) and ma (place, gap) were related when, in the Nihon gogen daijiten, I ran across this bold hypothesis regarding the origin of ma itself:

"Word that came out of heaven?"

This is attributed to Wakun no shiori, "A guide to Japanese readings [as opposed to Chinese ones]", a book published by TANIKAWA Kotosuga (谷川士清) in the late 1700s. NGD says that it is generally considered Japan's first etymological work in a modern(ish) style.

I am curious about how closely Tanikawa's actual words match what is attributed to him here. Obviously, the intended meaning is "there is no deeper root beneath ma", but did he actually use the word 天 (heaven)? And if so, how figuratively did he mean it? I know that the idiom ten kara ("from heaven") is still found in modern Japanese meaning "from the start" or "all along", although I mostly see it in negative sentences like 天から信じてない, "[I] never trusted [that guy]".

Popularity factor: 5


Dunno if you care, but I read this on livejournal (via the RSS feed) and it's complaining about invalid markup. I don't think it likes span class="romaji" "style=text-type:italic;"

-- shouldn't the quotes for the style attribute be just around the 'text=type:italic;' bit, not the 'style='?


午後二時十五分 has a point there, Old Bean.



I do care -- thanks, pm215! I call typo.

Ron: indeed! Where have you be*n?

Lameen Souag:

Probably a dumb idea, but could it be intended to mean that "ma" < "ame/ama", the kun-yomi of ten?


Hey, I think that's a good idea for an explanation. But the dictionary is edited in such a way as to make it unlikely... (they put all the "sound" parts of each proposed explanation in kana, so it would at least be "マ(天)から出た語か")

Comment season is closed.