Ii ko imasse

Via languagehat, I learned of the World Loanword Database (WOLD). As the comments at the 'hat indicate, there may be room for discussion re the data (e.g. a bunch of proto-Malayo-Polynesian is in the donor list for Japanese — Ōno Susumu lives!), but there's still plenty to enjoy there. For example, the word danna 旦那, "husband, master, patron."

The immediate source of danna is Chinese tánnà 檀那. Chinese in turn borrowed it from Pali, where it was dāna दान and apparently meant "giving" or "generosity" in general — but, in the context of the Buddhism via which China imported it, the key meaning was alms.

The rest of the progression is obvious: from "alms" to "support for a temple" to "supporter of a temple" to "supporter in general" to a respectful term for someone at whose mercy your lifestyle is. And that's how Buddhist jargon provided the address term of choice for Kabukichō touts trying to lure drunken salarymen into establishments of ill repute. (Google results suggest that in the public consciousness, danna is roughly 50% as associated with this situation as shachō, "company president, [cas.] boss".)

Popularity factor: 5

language hat:

So danna is related to betray, perdition, rent, surrender, treason, vend, dose, antidote, condone, pardon, dowry, dacha, and Pandora. It all fits! (Isn't etymology fun?)

Paul D.:

That's the most ennns I've ever seen 'danna' spelt with.


Damn wapuro input!


Ōno would claim a genetic relationship, though (which WOLD does not). I have not looked at the Japanese stuff there carefully yet, but there certainly is interesting evidence of M-P loans in Japanese. (Kumar and Rose. 2000. Lexical Evidence for Early Contact between Indonesian Languages and Japanese. Oceanic Linguistics 39/2.


Wiebe, that is an excellent point. Ono Susumu is definitely not smiling, because calling these words LOAN words is the exact opposite of his thesis. And thanks for the heads-up to the K + R paper! Are you a researcher in that area too?

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