Reverse Order Words between Japanese and Chinese
Forwards – Backwards Words in Japanese and Chinese
Probably many people know that Chinese characters are used both in Japanese and Chinese, and they share uncountable vocabulary. However, do you know that many words are reversed in Japanese compare to Chinese?
This is because the Japanese words were borrowed from classical Chinese, which has a different word order than modern Chinese languages, due to massive language change and evolution over the course of many centuries.
The other reason is Japanese invented “Japanese-made Chinese words”, called Wasei-kango(和製漢語) and the order is affected by grammatical reason. The word order in Japanese is [Subject + Object + Verb] while the word order in Chinese is [Subject + Verb + Object].
Here are the examples of reverse order words!
1. Reverse order but same meaning
These words mean basically same in Japanese and Chinese.
|言語||語言 / 语言||language|
|紹介||介紹 / 介绍||introduction|
|暗黒||黑暗 / 黑暗||darkness|
|運命||命運 / 命运||fate|
|胃腸||腸胃 / 肠胃||stomach|
|売買||買賣 / 买卖||buying and selling (trading)|
|途中||中途 / 中途||halfway|
|面会||會面 / 会面||visitation, meeting|
|苦痛||痛苦 / 痛苦||pain|
|探偵||偵探 / 侦探||detective|
|詐欺||欺詐 / 欺诈||fraud|
|窃盗||盜竊 / 盗窃||theft|
|限界||界限 / 界限||limit|
|制限||限制 / 限制||restriction|
|脅威||威脅 / 威胁||threat|
|離脱||脫離 / 脱离||separate|
|講演||演講 / 演讲||lecture, speech|
|施設||設施 / 设施||facility|
|兵士||士兵 / 士兵||soldier|
|遅延||延遲 / 延迟||delay|
|濾過||過濾 / 过滤||filtration|
|絶滅||滅絕 / 灭绝||extinction|
|移転||轉移 / 转移||transfer|
|敗戦||戰敗 / 战败||defeat|
|段階||階段 / 阶段||stage|
*階段 in Japanese means “stairs” (樓梯 / 楼梯 in Chinese).
2. Reverse order and they mean totally different!
There are also some words which means totally different when it’s reversed.
|Japanese||語法||usage, idiom, grammar|
|Chinese||法語 / 法语||French language|
*語法/语法 (means grammar) exists in Chinese too.
3.Reverse order and one language has more meanings
Some words has more meanings in one language. In this example, the word has more meaning in Japanese.
In fact, there are a lot of reverse order words, but they often have more meanings in one languages or have slightly different meanings.
If you learn both Japanese and Chinese, don’t forget to check the meaning in both languages even if they look like similar!
Read about Chinese words that made in Japan.
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