So the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites has a Japanese-language site now. It's still in beta, so who knows what kind of place it will eventually turn out to be, but there are already people giving detailed and correct answers to questions about classical Japanese grammar.

Here's a very interesting question about the etymology of 関手 ("functor"): it defeated me (although I did learn some interesting things, such as the fact that the modern Japanese word for "function" ultimately derives from a Chinese word 函数 which sounds like function); let's hope someone reading this can succeed where I failed.

Popularity factor: 9


I wish my dream that it had to do with Seki Takakazu had come true...

But I think it's probably analogous with 関数, no? With 手 as agent what does the thing.


Yeah, I think so too. But it would be nice to know if that was just post facto rationalization on my part, or if the translator really sat down and invented the word based on the same thought process.


The answer to that question probably lies in a whole stack of older math and programming textbooks...

Where IS the OED for Japanese?


There's Morohashi, but that's about Chinese characters, not Japanese.


So it has nothing to do with this old word http://dic.yahoo.co.jp/dsearch?enc=UTF-8&p=%E9%96%A2%E6%89%8B&dtype=0&dname=0na&stype=0&pagenum=1&index=10323500?


claytonian: Not unless it is some really obscure reference/pun that I don't get.

MMS: I guess the 日本国語大辞典 is the closest thing there is, but it doesn't actually include 関手 at all (except in the せきて reading that claytonian notes, same kanji different word). Or even the etymology for 関数...


Probably because they're too new to really be of etymological interest for those interested in the hoary mists of proto-Japanese. So clearly Sino-Japanese! And all about that math and stuff! We all know the proto-Japanese could only count to eight. (Which is better than rabbits, at least according to the true doctrine of Watership Down.)

I know where to go and how to get at this problem. But it'll be a long while before I'd attempt the etymological history of mathematics in Japanese. (For one, I have no idea what Seki's going on about nine tenths of the time. For two, I'd need to be in Japan for the material. And for five, I'd need to learn math better (cf one).)


And for five again, maybe I'll luck onto someone who's done it already? A liquor of obscurity can hope!


I understand that the proto-Japanese were forbidden from counting above eight by the invading Puyo horsemen, who owing to Eurasian links with Norse tradition considered an eight-legged horse to be pretty much the acceptable limit. (On the other hand, the horsemen did allow their new subjects to use the number for "20" when they turned that age, because otherwise no-one would ever have become able to drink.)

Comment season is closed.