The Vocabvlario da Lingoa de Iapam, a.k.a. Nippo Jisho 日葡辞書 ("Japanese-Portuguese Dictionary") is, like most dictionaries, great fun to browse through. It's kind of baffling that (as far as I know) there's no modern typeset version of any kind available, so we have to make do with facsimiles of varying quality and an admittedly marvelous translated version (Doi, Morita, and Chōnan). Or is there a samizdat e-text floating around somewhere? Someone hook me up!

Much of the fun comes from charming definitions for terms you already know. Take akanu naka 飽かぬ仲. Brinkley et al define it simply as "an inseparable and delightful relation" (16). The Nippo Jisho sez (with my translation):

Acanunaca. Amizade, ou liança como de cazados, ou amigos bē vnidos, & que não ha cauſa por via de deſamor pera ſe apartarē. (2)

Friendship, or alliance like that of the married, or friends well united, & which has not cause by way of disaffection to be ended [separated].

At least, I'm pretty sure that's what it means. This is where Doi et al's Japanese translation comes in handy, although then of course you have the problem of deciding whether to trust them when they say that "amigo" here means "lover" 愛人 rather than "friend" (10) — the Nihon Kokugo Daijiten, for one, disagrees, glossing it 親友 "close friend", and I have no idea what usage was more likely for a Portuguese Jesuit in 1603.

Sadly, IE-based bluffing can only get you so far. And that's why "learn Galician-Portuguese and cautiously move forward to early Modern Portuguese" is on my to-do list. (Well, that and cantigas d'amigo.)

Fortunately, even for those of us who can't read the dictionary properly, it can still teach us all kinds of interesting things about Japanese phonology in the Late Middle/Early Modern period. I plan to post about these a bit next week.


  • Brinkley, Frank, Nanjō Bunyū 南條文雄, Iwasaki Yukichika 岩崎行親, Mitsukuri Kakichi 箕作佳吉, and Matsumura Jinzō 松村任三. An Unabridged Japanese-English Dictionary. Tokyo: Sanseido 三省堂, 1896. Archive.org. Web. 8 March 2012.
  • Doi, Tadao 土井忠生, Morita Takeshi 森田武, and Chōnan Minoru 長南実. Hōyaku Nippo Jisho 邦訳日葡辞書. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten 岩波書店, 1980. Print.
  • Nihon Kokugo Daijiten 日本国語大辞典. Shōgakukan 小学館. JapanKnowledge. Web. 5 March 2012.
  • Vocabvlario da Lingoa de Iapam. Nagasaki, 1603. Tokyo: Benseisha 勉誠社, 1978. Print.

Popularity factor: 5

Leonardo Boiko:

You might already know this, but “amigo” was definitely “lover” at the time of the troubadors (13c). Today it’s just “friend” and never “boyfriend” (except perhaps in the old-fashioned adjective “amigado” = living together with your unmarried companion).

I’m uncertain of when the meaning shifted, and what it meant in the 16th century. From a quick search, I see that at least in Camões (16c) it’s already used as “friend”, including in such expressions as “a friend of peace” or “a friend to nature”.

I happen to want precisely a fac-simile of the Vocabulario, as well as the Arte da Lingoa de Iapam (aka 日本大文典 ). Would you recommend any editions? It’s a shame books published in Japan are so hard to acquire overseas.


Is it safe to assume that the Nippo Jisho is going to have been written by Leo after some sort of time traveling accident?

Leonardo Boiko:

Carl, have you had been gone off reading the discussions on “will have had gone” in the linguablogosphere too?


Time travel is one of the contexts in which "will have had gone" might be idiomatic for me.

Re facsimiles: I have seen two in person. The 1960 facsimile from Iwanami Shoten was terrible: small and poorly printed. It was almost unreadable for me, but you might do better since you actually speak the language. Kaisetsu was by Doi Tadashi IIRC.

The version I'm working with, the Benseisha one, was first printed in 1973 (mine is the third printing). Kaidai by Kamei Takashi. It's big -- about A4 size -- and quite readable.

Apart from that, there is also apparently a "Paris-bon" version from Benseisha (ed. Ishizuka Harumichi 石塚晴通, 1976 -- and it must be either good or rare because it is crazy expensive -- and the エヴォラ本日葡辞書 from Seibundo, 1999, which I'm going to assume is objectively the best given the advances in facsimile-reproducing technology between the 1970s and 1999.

I don't know anything about facsimiles of the 日本大文典, unfortunately...


I advise strgnoly against taking a tour from either Hato or JTB.In researching their tours, I found that all are very expensive, and practicallly every tour will leave to yourself to find your own way back to your hotel, even if there was a guide at the beginning of the tour. (They call this a course, which you have to pay for).I took a JTB tour to Ryogukan, and found it necessary to travel to the other side of Tokyo to join the tour, even though my hotel was closer to the Sumo wrestling arena, then having to travel back to the arena because subway tickets were included in the tour price. Also, they do not pick up at major hotels. I have been to Japan five times, and found that the level and amount of English have improved drastically.Except for figuring out how much a trip on the subway costs, there are many English signs, and the train staff are all too willing to help. They all seem have had lessons in English numbers.References : Experience.

Aime la vérité, mais pardonne à l'erreur

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