LINGUIST List 6.528

Sun 09 Apr 1995

Disc: Aum Shinri Kyo

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  1. Kazuto MATSUMURA, Re: Aum Shinrikyo

Message 1: Re: Aum Shinrikyo

Date: Thu, 6 Apr 95 12:29:59 JSTRe: Aum Shinrikyo
From: Kazuto MATSUMURA <kmatsumtansei.cc.u-tokyo.ac.jp>
Subject: Re: Aum Shinrikyo


Let me add a few words to the AUM discussion (6.508 Sum: Aum Shinri Kyo):

) 2. AUM IS PRONOUNCED OUMU(OOMU) IN JAPANESE. It is written in katakana,
) indicating that it is of foreign origin. It is not clear whether it is
) written 'oumu', 'o--mu' (with a long mark), or 'ouN'.

The Japanese word for AUM is written "o-u-mu" and pronounced with a long o.
Strictly speaking, that the word is written in katakana does not necessarily
imply its foreign origin. For example, many common animal and plant names
such as "inu" (dog), "neko" (cat), "sakura" (cherry), "hinoki" (Japanese
cypress), etc., are often written in katakana (I usually do so).

) 3. MANY JAPANESE DO NOT KNOW WHAT AUM/OOMU IS. Apparently in Japan as well
) as the English-speaking community AUM is familiar only to those who have
) studied Indian religions. As the word is written in katakana, the Japanese
) have no visual clue to the meaning, unlike words written in kanji (Chinese
) characters). One Japanese friend I asked suggested that it might be the
) word for 'parrot', which is also pronounced /oomu/.

So thought the majority of Japanese until two weeks ago, probably because 1)
the two words were homographic and 2) few people, if any, had ever heard the
AUM word actually pronounced. Thanks to the mass media, now everybody knows
that the AUM word is not even homonymous with the 'parrot' word: they are in
minimal-pair opposition with respect to accent: HLL (AUM) vs. LHH (parrot).

So much for the linguistics of AUM Shinrikyo.

Kazuto MATSUMURA
kmatsumtansei.cc.u-tokyo.ac.jp

 Institute for Cross-Cultural Studies (Tooyoo Gengo)
 Faculty of Letters, University of Tokyo
 Hongo 7-3-1, Bunkyo-ku, TOKYO 113 JAPAN
 tel. +81-3-3812-2111, ext. 3797 fax: +81-3-5803-2784
 +81-3-5803-3019
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