Clam shrink cool drum

Can you guess what the purpose of the book entitled 蜆縮涼鼓集, Ken-shuku-ryō-ko-shuū, or "Clam shrink cool drum collection", was? It's right there in the title. Right there.

Answer: it was a late 17th-century book listing words that used the "ji" (じ) in "shijimi" (しじみ, 蜆, a type of bivalve) versus the "ji" (ぢ) in "chijimi" (ちぢみ, 縮, shrink[age], plus various related meanings), and words that used the "zu" (ず) in "suzumi" (すずみ, 涼み, cool[ness]) versus the "zu" (づ) in "tsuzumi" (つづみ, 鼓, drum). Readers used it to check spellings of words using these dangerous sounds.

[So why not call it the Shijimi-chijimi-suzumi-tsuzumi-shuu? Well, for one thing, no-one would be able to pronounce that title properly. Ha! Seriously, for the same reason that the Tokyo (東)-Yokohama (横)-Chiba (千葉) area becomes "Keihinyō" (京浜葉) in abbreviation: Kanji-based abbreviations traditionally got the Sino-Japanese reading, I suppose analogous to English speakers saying "L.A." instead of "Lo'-A'".]

This was right about the time that the last traces of the difference between each pair were disappearing from the spoken language, but still centuries before any organized orthographic reform would be undertaken. Today's Japanese speakers (when writing) still have to know when to use じ and when to use ぢ, etc., but since most spellings have been normalized, you can get away with a few simple rules and a handful of exceptions instead of memorizing a whole book.

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Vilhelm S:

What I _really_ want to know is why it becomes Keihinyou rather than, say, Kyouhinyou. The usage doesn't even seem settled; witness the train lines 京葉線 vs 埼京線. And apart from these abbreviations, I don't know any word containing "kei" (except the big number).


I used to muse on what illiterate people thought about the "Keihan" train going between Kyoto and Osaka, or the Hanshin Tigers.


I know there's a word "keijin" (京人) that means "someone who lives in the capital), and there are lots of words that can be (or, at one time, could have been) read "kei.." or "kyou..". I think it's just a usage thing.

"When used in a geographical abbreviation, 京 comes first in the word and is pronounced 'kei'" would cover most cases. I also note that the big exception, "saikyou", is a much more recent coinage than "keihin", "keihan", etc. (For example, they can all stand as words on their own and existed before the railroads did, but "saikyou" seems to only be acceptable when referring to the "-sen".)


For some reason I want to read 京人 as "Miyakobito," though WWWJDIC has only "Keijin." Where did I get this idea?

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