Strange coincidences found while learning Japanese

The first time I noticed a coincidental interchange of word meaning was with the word for point (点) meaning a spot, mark, or dot. It seemed coincidental that this was used in many words for keeping score of something. The English word “point” is also used for keeping score and means a spot, mark, or dot on it’s own.

Then I found the same similarities for the word for face (面) being used for a human face and the face of a surface. Just like the English word “face”.

Same thing with the word fruit (果) which is often used in place of the word “result” as well as the actual edible fruit. Well in English sometimes we say “the fruit of your labors” where we use fruit in place of result. What the heck? 一体?

Is this pure coincidence or do they come from the same root somehow?


I think it’s just that these are logical connections to make. I think it would be stranger, as if the Japanese people were aliens or something, if they didn’t have some overlapping similarities in how they conceptualize the world.

Sometimes though, there is just a borrowing from Western language to Japanese. The 4 character idiom 一石二鳥 is not from ancient China like most such words. It’s an adaptation of the English “two birds with one stone.”


It seems too much of a coincidence though. Why Fruit? Why not Rice, or Wheat. They just happened to be the same exact things? Back when these sayings were produced, I expected they were aliens to England.


Well, they have plenty of instances of abstract word usage that don’t align to English… so you expect there to be less than 3? :thinking:

Agreed. There are plenty that do not match. When they match perfectly like this, its just wild to think two different nations without contact were thinking the exact same thing. I understand for words and saying that came later, its the most basic ones that probably go back thousands of years that get me.

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Haha! Very cool! Look at this one:

月曜日 means “Monday” and the kanji 月 means “Moon”. Moon-day. Pretty cool, right?


I mean, you don’t have to go far with fruit to see one that doesn’t make much sense at all in English. Another character that means fruit is 実. No connection between fruit and truth in English that comes to mind for me.

EDIT: Fruit of the tree of knowledge is kind of similar, but I’m not sure that it’s the same kind of 1:1 relationship you were referring to above.

I think the weekdays used around the world were all derived from one source, otherwise they wouldn’t all be 7 days right? Monday was always the day of the moon from the very start I am pretty sure.

You see the exact same god/planet=weekday correlation across many Latin-influenced languages. Although for some reason English kept Sunday and Saturday while they got renamed for God (Deus) and Sabbath in other languages…

週の日 celestial body Germanic god English Roman god Latin Italian Spanish French
日曜日 Sun Sunne Sunday sol dies Sōlis domenica domingo dimanche
月曜日 Moon Mōnda Monday luna dies Lūnae lunedì lunes lundi
火曜日 火星 Mars Tīw Tuesday Mārs dies Martis martedì martes mardi
水曜日 水星 Mercury Wōden Wednesday Mercurius dies Mercuriī mercoledì miércoles mercredi
木曜日 木星 Jupiter Thunor Thursday Jūpiter dies Jovis giovedì jueves jeudi
金曜日 金星 Venus Frige Friday Venus dies Veneris venerdì viernes vendredi
土曜日 土星 Saturn Saturday Sāturnus dies Saturnī sabato sabado samedi

Sources propose that the 7-day week came to Japan from the Egyptians by way of the Greeks, Romans, Indians, and (maybe) Chinese.

Curiously, China has the god=planet associations, but not the weekdays. Days of the week in Chinese are simply numbered 一二三四五六日. (Okay, 日 isn’t a number, but close enough.)


It’s also funny that the days of the week in Japanese are similar to romance languages, while in Portuguese (a romance language), except for Saturday and Sunday they’re all completely different :laughing:

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Japan adopted the western days of the week during the Meiji reforms so this is not a strange coincidence.


Because the caloric/sugar content, for humans as well as other primates, finding fruit was a big jackpot. In Hebrew, פְּרִי can mean fruit, labor, profit, result, offspring, gain, etc…

If you look at the source I linked to, these weekday names were on Japanese record well before the Meiji reforms. They were not used for common purposes until then, but that just brought the existing names into common use.

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I had no idea. Somehow it seems like Portuguese’s numbering is a bit off…

Portuguese Chinese
Segunda-feira 星期一/礼拜一/週一
Terça-feira 星期二/礼拜二/週二
Quarta-feira 星期三/礼拜三/週三
Quinta-feira 星期四/礼拜四/週四
Sexta-feira 星期五/礼拜五/週五
Sábado 星期六/礼拜六/週六
Domingo 星期日/礼拜天/週天

(Obviously, I purposely lined up the chart to start on Monday. :smile:)


Thanks for the correction but reading carefully the link: they borrowed them form the Chinese who borrow them from India who borrowed them from ? I’d bet on Alexander once ruled everything from Egypt, Greece, etc… His empire was vast and it ended where India starts. The article tells a story of slow diffusion which is quite different from a strange coincidence.

Well yes, isn’t that what I wrote?

Back to the original topic:
I was surprised at 文字通(もじどお) ↜ “by the letter” ↝ “literally”. But that seems like a good way to express the concept, so perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising.

There were also a number of familiar words which surprisingly turned out to be loanwords from Japanese to Chinese - the opposite of the usual borrowing direction - such as 図書館(としょかん)圖書館(ㄊㄨˊ ㄕㄨ ㄍㄨㄢˇ), or 幼稚園(ようちえん)幼稚園(ㄧㄡˋ ㄓˋ ㄩㄢˊ), which itself is a calque from the German kinder(children)garten(garden).


Sunday is considered to be the first day of the week in many countries.

I believe this is a jewish tradition, to start counting after the “rest” day Saturday


i totally agree with you , English is not my mother tongue and i do find some similarities between English and my mother tongue language in words meaning and use. there are also some idioms that has the same wordings.

International standard ISO 8601 says weeks start on Mondays :slight_smile:

Israel uses Friday-Saturday weekends (Shabbat begins at sundown on Friday by modern reckoning) and weeks starting on Sunday.
But, to make things more confusing: many other Middle Eastern countries used to have Thursday-Friday weekends (Jumu’ah takes place the day before Sabt), leading to weeks starting on Saturday.

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An ISO published in 1988 seems younger to me than tradition

That ISO was set up as a way of properly exchange information with time and data in the internet and other applications and it is not adopted by everyone, it has its limits

I agree that everything is a bit confusing… and fascinating at the same time

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