Sound-a-like Kanji


#1

Could it possibly be that 信号 (しんごう) is used because it sounds a bit like “signal” as in traffic signal in English?


#2

I don’t think so… 信号 makes sense to me, at least for traffic light. The lights are like a number series and you need to trust it to keep safe and keep the traffic moving.


#3

Huh, I never really thought about traffic lights in terms of number sequences.


#4

I think numbers also have an association with orderliness? Which might explain 交番 a bit as well?


#5

号 does not only mean number, it also means to give instructions (call out) or signal something. It makes sense as a compound. Plus, it seems to be the same in Chinese.

Still, I wouldn’t rule out that it is related, wiktionary even gives samjna for Telegu (whatever that language is), so maybe the concept was exported long ago.


#6

I’ve always been amused at how much 立派 and 突破 sound exactly like Australian slang terms with the same meaning. :slightly_smiling_face:

As for 交番, it’s supposedly a contraction of 交替 (shift rotation) + 立番 (standing watch).


#7

Occasionally I see beginners ask if things like 名前 are from English… Most cases of this are coincidental.