I just got the vocab lesson for 夫妻: ふさい - married couple, Mr and Mrs, husband and wife.
That gave rise to a couple of questions about the use of this word.
i) Can it be used to simply imply cohabitation - i.e. living together without being married?
ii) What about LGBTQ-issues? Would it be used for two married men or two married women as well?
iii) How about non-married cohabiting LGBTQ-people? Can the meaning extent to them as well?
And a feminist question: How about 妻子 さいし - wife and kids. Is there a way to say husband and kids?
Feminist question 2: How about 一夫多妻 いっぷたさい - Polygamy (this word pisses me off). But, in theory, not that I think it’s common, but how about one wife with many husbands. Is there a way to say that i Japanese?
Since conservatism is strong in Japan I figured that you might not be able to use “husband and wife” like that, but even if gay marriage isn’t legally recognized in Japan, there are other countries where it is and thus married gay men is something that should need an expression of its own - if 夫妻 for “married couple” isn’t a viable choice.
I can’t actually confirm how this works, but I will add that this is the same way the words for siblings and cousins work. きょうだい can be spelled 兄弟、姉弟、兄妹、or 姉妹、though the last is technically read しまい. いとこ is usually 従兄弟、but can also follow the same patterns as 兄弟 to represent sex/age of the cousins. Given that this is the case, it wouldn’t surprise me if 夫婦 worked in a similar fashion.
Well, the concept and the fact that it’s written as “one man with many wives” in Japanese. This is a very destructive relationship formula for women (if you care about their rights and mental health in general - science will tell us. It’s illegal for a reason where I live).
Well, I guess that it makes sense for polygamy to use the kanji that it is spelled with from a biological/historical perspective. When it comes to generating as much offspring as possible, it only works this way around I guess ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I didn’t know you could change around the formula for siblings, so thanks for that tip. I don’t think WK actually included “siblings” as a meaning for しまい, just for きょうだい. Great tip for cousin, as well. It’s good to know these concepts are actually flexible in their meaning.
Since 姉妹 only refers to female siblings, it makes sense. Meanwhile in Dutch we don’t even have a word for mixed gender siblings. There is only brothers, sisters, and brothers and sisters. Also our words for cousin are gendered in the same as nieces and nephews is.
On a similar not, in Swedish we don’t have a gendered word for cousins, just cousins. For siblings there are, brothers, sisters, and siblings - the same as English in this regard. Since Dutch has a lot of influence from English, it did surprise me that there was no equivalence to “siblings” in Dutch!
Yes, it surprises (and annoys) me too. On the other hand, we do have single ungendered words to reveal to married couples. Echtpaar. On the other hand, we have a word for spouse (also beautifully ungendered), but I’ve only ever encountered it in crosswords and the like.