I know this is a pretty random question, but I was wondering if there happened to be a relationship between 信徒 and 神道 considering they are almost identical in how they are said. Or, is it just a coincidence that they happen to be very similar?
Considering both are close to how it’s pronounced in Middle Chinese and that the pronunciation is different there as well, I’d say it’s just a coincidence.
It’s probably a coincidence. In Japanese, due to the sparseness of phonemes, even a small difference like an elongated vowel (と・とう) makes a big difference. Also, 神 and 道 both sound like しん because that was the approximation of the Chinese pronunciation of the kanji at the time of adoption into the Japanese language. Since Japanese doesn’t use tones like Chinese, the pronunciations of different sounding Chinese words can end up sounding the same in Japanese.
Japanese has a lot of homophones so similarity in sound usually doesn’t imply some other kind of relationship. That being said と and とう may sound similar to a westerner but they are substantially different to a native Japanese speaker.
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