卵 vs 玉子 for eggs

I’ve known for a long time that 卵 means eggs. But recently I stumbled on the alternative spelling 玉子 for eggs. It seems like 玉子 is mainly used in recipes. Can someone shed some light on this matter?

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Incidentally, I saw this on a Japanese TV show :slight_smile: No guarantee that I got it 100% right, though.

卵 is for the physical object itself, 玉子 when you use it for a sort of purpose, like eating. So if you take a raw egg in hand, it starts out as 卵, once you crack it open and put it on rice it turns into a 玉子.

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Pretty much what @acm2010 said. 卵 is the biological term, 玉子 is for food.
Reference in Japanese: http://www.jz-tamago.co.jp/pdf/E01_7.pdf

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Thank you both for your answers! Now I got it :slight_smile:

It seems there are more words that can be written with different but with slightly different meanings. I recently had 眼 as a vocabulary and that kanji seems to be the more scientific version of 目. It also could refer to the physical eyeball. Is there a rule of thumb when one could expect multiple spelling of a word or is there a limited list with everyday items that are written differently depending on context?

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The other way round it’s even more confusing:
市場 read as いちば is the market place of a town, but 市場 read as しじょう is the market as a concept, like in 株式市場 (stock market).

~T :lion:

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Now that you mentioned it, this is something I’ve been loosely aware of. Thanks for pointing this out! This forum is really a gold mine of helpful information. Now I regret not becoming active sooner :slight_smile:

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Also incidentally, 卵 is used pretty much when referring to human reproduction also.

It’s even more confusing with rice because 米 (こめ) is uncooked rice but cooked rice can be called 飯 (めし) or ご飯 (ごはん), both of which can also mean meal (including non-rice meal) in general depending on context.

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I don’t think the distinction between rice as a grain and rice as a meal is that confusing.

Also I think English is way more confusing with Tea meaning Dinner, apart from if you are Scottish then Dinner is Lunch.
Or if you are a northerner then Dinner is Supper, only Supper is actually Afters because you eat it for dessert.

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I think this kind of thingsis totally normal for every language. The only thing that REALLY confuses me in Japanese are the readings… I mean what the hell? You learn the 2000 most important kanji with at least 2 readings, but you have no clue, if this new word is even using the readings. Maybe it’s an exceptional reading (wich is no exception but rather usuall -.-)?! Yojijukugos do almost NEVER use the onjomis (at least it feels like that).

~T :lion:

Not sure what you mean by that… since yojijukugo usually come directly from ancient Chinese, what else would they use?

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I think WK is pretty good with the readings really.

Or if you’re an an American living in the northeast USA and are totally confused by everything you just said :thinking::grin:

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Or if you live in America then entrée is the main dish and not the opening dish :confounded:

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Y-you’re not the opening dish! o:<

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No, I’m a dessert because I’m sweet

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!! I had never noticed that before. I mean, it’s true, but I never thought about what the word literally means. (And I like to notice those things.)

Hey, Discourse, if you don’t want me to resurrect old threads, stop recommending them to me at the bottom of the page. Sorry (not sorry).

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Don’t worry, we’re all necrophiliacs here

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I was today years old when:

  1. I learned that “tamago”(when written with 玉子) means egg.
  2. That the rough LITERAL translation is “child in a ball”.
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If you live in the Midwest USA, dinner is lunch and supper is what you eat at night. In the South, you eat lunch at noon and dinner at night.