LINGUIST List 4.1096

Sun 26 Dec 1993

Sum: Arigatoo; Problems and mysteries

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  1. mark, Arigatoo !< obrigado
  2. "Barbara.Abbott", Summary: problems vs. mysteries

Message 1: Arigatoo !< obrigado

Date: Thu, 23 Dec 93 14:43:50 ESArigatoo !< obrigado
From: mark <>
Subject: Arigatoo !< obrigado

I've received three replies so far to my query about Japanese
"arigatoo" and Portuguese "obrigado", all agreeing that there is
no historical connection. The clearest formulation came from
Kenjiro Matsuda:

 [That's] one of the most famous folk etymology in Japanese,
 probably fortified by its connection with Brazil (or Portuguese).
 Arigatoo (note the last vowel is long) is historically derived
 from arigatasi (ari 'to exist' + gatasi 'hard to'), meaning
 'rare.' The form came to be used to express thankfulness, in a
 more or less exaggerated manner, by saying that such-and-such a
 favor is hard to exist. The form predates Japan's contacts with
 the West, which began 16th century.

Thanks to all who responded: (Hartmut Haberland) (Karl V. Teeter, Professor of Linguistics,
 Emeritus, Harvard University) (Kenjiro Matsuda, Dept. of Linguistics,
 Univ. of Pennsylvania)

 Mark A. Mandel
 Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 965-5200
 320 Nevada St. : Newton, Mass. 02160, USA :
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Message 2: Summary: problems vs. mysteries

Date: Wed, 22 Dec 93 15:27 EST
From: "Barbara.Abbott" <>
Subject: Summary: problems vs. mysteries

LINGUIST is the greatest! Thanks to Kay Bock, Bob Frieden,
Marion Gunn, and Rich Hilliard for filling me in on where
Chomsky talks about the difference between problems
(which we can possibly figure out) and mysteries (which are
essentially beyond our capacities). The last chapter of
_Reflections on language_ is called "Problems and
mysteries in the study of human language", and contains
relevant references to Kant and Peirce. There is also a
concise summary of the distinction on p. 6 of _Rules and
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