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fifthchamber
11th August 2003, 15:01
Hello all..
I have been reading "Getting a Grip" by Joe Svinth (An excellent book and one well worth the read..) recently and came across a very small point that really has me thinking...It was the use of the American slang "Honcho"...Mr Svinth used it with a description of the Japanese communities in 1930's Seattle...And it got me thinking about any possible Japanese origin for the word...
Has anyone come across the use of "Honcho" to describe a 'main man' type in Japanese, or a director of things...Something like that?...
I had "Hon" being "main" and "Cho/naga" as "head" (And others too..I know...) but since my Japanese is very much out of the colloquial I thought I should try here...
Anyone?
Thanks.

Joshua Lerner
11th August 2003, 15:37
Hi Ben,

I've always wondered the same thing. I also wonder about the English slang "skosh" for a "a little", as in, "just a skosh", which I assume comes from "sukoshi".

Anyone know for certain?

Enfield
11th August 2003, 19:43
The English "honcho" is taken directly from ǒ (honchou), which is squad leader.

renfield_kuroda
12th August 2003, 00:43
Skosh also came over from Japanese, just after WWII. I remember my grandfather (who served in the war) using it, and my father explaining the word to me. Then, decades later I explained to HIM what it meant in Japanese.
Honcho, skosh, typhoon, tsunami...

Regards,
r e n

Meik Skoss
12th August 2003, 03:12
Well, if "honcho" means squad leader, it should be spelled "hancho." A han is a squad. A hon is a book. Or a bottle. Or a ... (There are a *lot* of homophones in Japanese.)

"Skosh" is almost certainly "sukoshi" (a little/bit), as in "Oi! Biru wo mo sukoshi mottekihenka?" (Yo... won't you bring a little more beer?) You shouldn't, however, figure on returning to that particular establishment any time soon. You might also wind up wearing the beer in your hair, if not the bottle... that isn't a very polite locution.

Mama-san and Papa-san date from the Occupation and Korean War and are pretty obvious. Ne-chan, though, can mean a lot of things. It's not a "bad" word, exactly, but context is all. If her boyfriend is close, you may find yourself conducting an interesting exercise in "How Not To Make Friends and Influence People." Then again, you could get lucky.

Kimpatsu
12th August 2003, 04:44
Originally posted by Enfield
The English "honcho" is taken directly from ǒ (honchou), which is squad leader.
Actually, Kent, that's read as "Hancho".
Other pre-war importations include the literal Chinese, "Long time, no see".

Enfield
12th August 2003, 20:43
You're right, it's hanchou. Hanchou is actually closer in pronunciation to the English honcho, anyway. (At least around here.)

Enfield
12th August 2003, 20:47
Oh, and I was under the impression that typhoon was from Chinese, as in Japanese, there's no n on the end.

Earl Hartman
12th August 2003, 21:08
I am also under the impression that "tycoon" is also from the Japanese: "taikun" (also pronounced ou-k(g)imi) meaing ruler or sovereign.

CMM
12th August 2003, 23:37
I remember floating the 'skosh from sukoshi' theory by my Dad a few years ago, but he just laughed and said that he first heard it in some tiny road-widening in South Dakota in about 1974.

He and I are certainly no experts, but it does seem unlikely that anyone in that particular setting would have much access to Japanese at that time; I'm inclined to believe that there may be another origin.

renfield_kuroda
13th August 2003, 00:52
http://www.sjvls.org/cgi-bin/bens_02/101733

Record #101733 - How to request information from this file.
The word skosh comes from Korean War slang and a Japanese loan word, skoshi or skosh, meaning few or little, according to article on "Bamboo English in AMERICAN SPEECH, v. 35, May 1969, p. 117-. SOURCE: BARC NOTES, 10/86, p. 5.
2/22/1991


Regards,
r e n

Kimpatsu
13th August 2003, 01:23
Originally posted by Earl Hartman
I am also under the impression that "tycoon" is also from the Japanese: "taikun" (also pronounced ou-k(g)imi) meaing ruler or sovereign.
"Taikin", actually, which means a great amount of money.
HTH.

Earl Hartman
13th August 2003, 02:37
Ae you sure? It doesn't even sound the same, really. Why say "tycoon" when you could just as easily say "taikin"?

Kimpatsu
13th August 2003, 02:49
Originally posted by Earl Hartman
Ae you sure? It doesn't even sound the same, really. Why say "tycoon" when you could just as easily say "taikin"?
Because people mishear things, especially when not in a language they understand. Have you ever read Edgar Allen Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue"?

Earl Hartman
13th August 2003, 02:58
Have you got the etymology for that? A "taikun" is a person: a rich man in Japanese is usually called an "Oh-g(k)ane-mochi", not a "taikin". Taikin just means a lot of money.

You may be right; it sounds plausible enough, I suppose, but since it contradicts what I have been led to believe, I'd like to see the derivation. I'd check it myself, but I am at work without my dictionaries.

Kimpatsu
13th August 2003, 03:11
Yes, "kanemochi" means rich (person), but the derivitive of the English "tycoon" is the Japanese "taikin".
What does "sensible" mean? Different things, in French and English. Their meanings have been twisted over time, and particularly between different languages.

Jason W
13th August 2003, 04:24
Earl you weren't wrong - the Oxford dictionary gives "tai kun" meaning great prince as the origin of tycoon.

Apparently it comes from the title given by foreigners in Japan to the Shogun around 1868.


cheers,

___________________
Jason Wotherspoon
Ipswich Aikido Club - Iwama Style

Earl Hartman
13th August 2003, 07:24
Well, if the OED says it.......

Thanks.

Joseph Svinth
14th August 2003, 01:16
That particular usage wasn't even mine -- it's how the Bainbridge Island Nisei themselves describe their community's early 20th century work gang leader.

Meanwhile, for a discussion of the etymology of both honcho and tycoon, see http://www.easterwood.org/hmmn/archives/000100.html . Tycoon is probably 1858 rather than 1868, though, at least in the USA, as evidently Abe Lincoln himself was known (probably behind his back) as a tycoon.

fifthchamber
14th August 2003, 14:04
Hi all....
Thanks to everyone for the responses here... (Although I still am not 'entirely' sure what the truth is here....Lol)...
Actually Joe..That makes more sense to me that it was their quotes and not your own...It caught my attention in the book and I would not have noticed otherwise I think...Its easier to just accept words as 'English'...Even if far less interesting!!
Again, thanks to everyone who has posted so far!
Regards.

dakotajudo
26th August 2003, 04:08
Originally posted by CMM
I remember floating the 'skosh from sukoshi' theory by my Dad a few years ago, but he just laughed and said that he first heard it in some tiny road-widening in South Dakota in about 1974.

He and I are certainly no experts, but it does seem unlikely that anyone in that particular setting would have much access to Japanese at that time; I'm inclined to believe that there may be another origin.

Depends on which road widening, I guess. I grew up in one; the high school art teacher (retired in 1980) was a Japanese woman. She was a military bride, I believe.

We did have radio and TV by '74, you know. May take a little longer, but popular culture does filter out here eventually.

Now, indoor plumbing, that's another story.