Making up words

So if I wanted to make up a word in japanese, like cowman, how would I do that? Would it be like ushi no hito like with 女の人 or 牛人


Both forms exist, as I’m sure you’re aware.

女の人 relies solely on words that use the kunyomi.
女性 is a word that also means woman, and it uses the onyomi.

Both words exist, and they cover similar meanings, but they feel different in their nuances, and they get used differently.

牛の人, which I presume would be うしのひと, would feel more colloquial, because of the kunyomi readings.
牛人, which I imagine would be ぎゅうじん, would feel more… scientific, or formal, or like written language, because of the onyomi.

EDIT: Though you could go with 牛人, but say the reading is うしびと, which would be kunyomi again, and feel colloquial. Of course, there’s no guarantee people will “correctly” read your made up words without having them explained.


So you’re asking how a made up word in English translates to another language…?

Do whatever you want I guess, I wouldn’t necessarily expect it to make much sense no matter how you slice it.

Well, I mean, cowman makes sense, even though it’s not a word that people “know.” Because it’s just two morphemes we understand pasted together.

If I said, how do I translate something that merely sounds like an English word but uses nonsensical morphemes, like “crandenstrous” into Japanese, that would be a different question.

I’m sure any literate Japanese person would get the intended image from 牛の人 or 牛人, even though you won’t find them in the dictionary.

As an aside, there is actually a short story collection called 牛人


I would have copied Mermaid and gone with 人牛 (にんぎゅう)

If by cowman you understand someone who is half cow half man.

So it’s more a “real” word, rather than a description of what you see.

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