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The Japanese Pithecanthropus: Interpreting Japanese Unfamiliar Compounds

Takao Suzuki’s Model of Conceptual Combination Through kun-Glossing

Simone dalla Chiesa    Università degli Studi di Milano La Statale, Italia    



With ‘kun-glossing’, I refer to the method of interpreting unfamiliar compounds proposed by Takao Suzuki (1926-2021), a well-known Japanese scholar. Readers assign a semantic gloss to each constituent kanji, combine those meanings into a new, complex concept and attempt to validate the result(s) encyclopedically. In this essay I verify kun-glossing’s processing power by applying it to eleven compounds, beginning with enjin 猿人 (Pithecanthropus). I conclude that this method is only effective in interpreting words that are structured as descriptions, as the neoclassical compounds of science often are, and cannot be considered a universal method to infer the meaning of novel compounds.

Aug. 29, 2023
June 20, 2023
May 19, 2023

Keywords: Conceptual combinationNeoclassical compoundsBinomensCompoundingJapanese compoundsKanjiErnst HaeckelOnomasiological approachAppositive compoundsTakao Suzuki

Copyright: © 2023 Simone dalla Chiesa. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.