« Banana II | Main | 100th »

Typhoon, who?

Kurt has posted an interesting entry on typhoons. (I wonder why he's so desperate to find a Japanese guy who loves the rain, going so far as to saying this is his "seemingly unreachable goal in life" and seeing himself as a "tenkeiteki gaijin" (typical foreigner) in this case. Oh, that conceivably means most Americans LOVE the rain, eh?)

I used to think that the word "typhoon" came from Japanese. We have kanji characters meaning typhoon and its pronunciation is something like "Thai-who", which sounds similar to typhoon. As Kurt points out, if a word comes from a foreign language other than Chinese, we usually write it in katakana, a syllabary used mainly for representing foreign words. Then the Japanese Thai-who is from Chinese? I searched the Net and found there is no distinct answer for this. Who in the world is Thai-who? One potent theory puts it that Thai-who comes from English typhoon, applied the pronunciation into kanji. Wow. And another one is, as you can see, from Chinese. What makes the matter more confusing, some sources say that the Chinese version of typhoon may come from another language, such as Greek or Arabic. Hey, it's similar to the etymology of typhoon!

OK, the answer remains to be a mystery. Anyway, English has typhoon, and Japanese has Thai-who. No problem....


Kiyo, I wouldn't say I was "desperate" in the sense that my life will have no meaning until I find such a person (and by the way, I'd be quite happy if it was a Japanese female, I'm an equal opportunity seeker of rain-lovers!). It's just another one of those "projects" I have to amuse myself, and it certainly does seem that Japanese as a group hate the rain and that generally foreigners as a group either like it or don't mind it. Certainly amongst my Japanese family and co-workers and students I teach (totaling perhaps a 100 people or so), I've yet to find one that likes the rain, and that when I mention that I do, I get a response along the lines of "gaikokujin wa minna ame ga suki desu. Nan de?" So I realize that my research is hardly scientific, but I do think it's indicative of a trend.

any any rate, more to the point of your post, i love these "journies" one can go on with language, so utterly fascinating. I actually started that post because I was under the mistaken impression that the word was of Japanese origin, but soon found different when I started to research it.

Forgive me for the exaggeration, Kurt. ;) I was amused at your Japanese rain-lovers seek because you were talking about that in your comment here the other day too.