材木 vs. 木材 [Vocab meaning question]


#1

I just learned the kanji for lumber/timber (and I feel also “wood”) 材. It lists both 材木 and 木材 as examples… I was pleased to guess the readings correctly right off the bat… But the meanings are a bit strange… One of them means lumber, timber, and wood. The other only means lumber and wood. If they are both referring to wood/lumber the building material, should they not both include all the same synonyms?

Of course I understand I can add that synonym myself easily (once I unlock it, anyway)… What I am asking is if there’s a reason for this difference. Perhaps to the Japanese there’s a difference, or a nuance that I don’t see/get in English.

Anyone know the answer care to explain? Anyone have any theories? Perhaps someone with a language other than English as native might have some insight from their own language/home country?

Personally, I’m just a bit baffled by this!

ありがとうございます。


Kanji order in a jukugo
#2

My theory: Lumber means the same as Wood, and just like that, there are 2 different words with the same meanings. I could be wrong since this is really just a guess.


#3

Found this by googling 木材と材木


I can’t read most of it but it seems like 木材 is closer to a finished product, so “timber” wouldn’t be an accurate translation, as that typically refers to raw unprocessed wood. (I think)

edit: Ok, so timber does mean wood made into planks, though but that’s about as processed as it gets. like you wouldn’t say a drawer was made out of “timber”. I learned something about a word and it’s translation today, nice :crabigator:


#4

Nice. I just got these as well.


#5

this is how i see it:

材 is a term for materials or ingredients.
木 is a term for trees / wood.

so 材木 is describing a construction material / ingredient which is made out of wood, that is to say “timber” or “lumber.”

but 木材 is describing the material which trees are made of, which is “wood.”


#6

Handy tip: Do a google images search. One gives you all kinds of woody stuff, images of grain structures; the other gives you (mostly) dimensional lumber for construction.


#7

TL;DG (to lazy, didn’t google), which one was which?


#8

Slight derailing: what’s the differens between 林 and 森? I just know I can answer “forest” on both. In my head the it’s just “forest” and “big ass forest”. Perhaps it’s my native language that lacks the distinction, but they are the same to me.


#9

My understanding of those words are opposite to WaniKani’s answer. To me, 林 means wood, as the woods can be a small wood. 森 is a forest, because in my own English understanding, forests are much bigger than the woods. The woods can just be a handful of trees on a property. A forest is something much bigger (like, think of The Black Forest in Germany!).

WaniKani wants the opposite, however, so I added synonyms to each long ago. (I believe I learned them or at least one of them​ the above way elsewhere/probably from my native Japanese friend first, too.)


#10

Thanks, Felix! Your edit is the kind of answer I was looking for. That’s helpful. : D


#11

Does anyone have a good list of 1-2 vs. 2-1 vocabs? Also, what is it called?


#12

I don’t think there’s an official term in Japanese or English (though I could be wrong), but here’s a (probably incomplete) list.


#13

I recently made a post about these reversible words, with a link to a Japanese page with some more examples:

It doesn’t have an “official” name in Japanese, though.


#14

I had a similar thing happen just now when I got the 変事 vocab, and I was like wait… what about 事変? I looked around about it already but yea.


#15

Oh yeah! I think I bookmarked that to go back and check it out in depth later.

Thanks to @Leebo too.


#16

Nice.

Might clean things up, remove duplicates, mark minimal WK level required, import into Anki later. Looking up for explanations in a dictionary might be a nice idea, too; especially on the nuance part of words with the same meaning.

Please look at the sheet 逆さに読んでも二字熟語, which is marked by school grade G3-G6.


#17

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