April 11, 2010

ガラスとグラス:Glass as Garasu and Gurasu in Japanese

Botanical Gardens, Redding

Japan has many words of foreign origin; predominantly Chinese and more recently English. But not all gairaigo (non-Chinese loan words written in Katakana) are derived from English. 

For example, there are two words for "cup" in Japanese; Koppu and Kappu. Koppu (コップ) came from Dutch (cop) and means only a drinking cup.  Kappu (カップ) came from English (cup) and means practically everything else; sake cup, coffee cup, tea cup, measuring cup, C cup, Japan Cup, etc. 

Same goes with "glass" in Japanese; Garasu and Gurasu.  Garasu (ガラス, 硝子) came from Dutch (glas) and means window glass, glassware and glass the substance.  Gurasu (グラス) came from English (glass) and means a cup made of glass.  When they say "Garasu no Gurasu," that means a drinking cup made of glass.

To me, glas and glass sound same...  Well, it's sometimes all up to the mood of someone who first put it in Katakana. Stained glass is called Sutendogurasu, not Sutendogarasu.  Don't ask me why!

When it comes to stained glass, one of the oldest ones was imported by French priests who built Japan's oldest existing wooden church, Oura Catholic Church, in Nagasaki back in 1864.  The glass was damaged in the nuclear blast, but it has since been restored.


旅行先で硝子を見ていてふと思ったんだけど、ガラスもグラスも英語は同じ「glass」なのに、ガラスと書くと窓ガラスや素材、グラスと書くと飲み物のグラス。面白いね。そういえばコップもカップも英語は同じ「cup」だなぁ…。

で、帰ってから調べてみたら、ガラスコップはオランダ語起源(glas、cop)と分かった。

glas(蘭)もglass(英)も発音同じって気もするが、この辺は最初にカタカナで書いた人のノリか? 同じガラス素材でもステンドグラスはステンドガラスとは言わないので、カタカナ表記なんていい加減なものである。

因みにステンドグラスを日本に初めて輸入したのは1864年に長崎大浦天主堂を作ったフランス人司祭たち。原爆でかなり傷んだが、修復されて今に至る。

Oura Catholic Church (c) MShades

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