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Japanese Language/implicit conjunction in some compounds


Hi, having a hobby with Japanese language but also in general linguistics, I found compounds like jijo (for boys and girls) or touzai (for east and west; ladies and gentlemen) intriguing: there is no 'to' (and) between them. I think I read somewhere about these kind of compounds in other languages (a linguistic term) but I can't remember.

Do you know what is the term? If not, could you please tell me some more compounds like these? Or if they have a Japanese name I would be most grateful. Also, it seems to work only when both are nouns? (but bijin is beauty+person and you think of a beautiful person, not beauty and someone - so not sure)

Thank you for your hard work!

Compound nouns in Japanese are called jukugo (熟語) and are one of the ways of making a noun in the language. As such, there are thousands of them, though not all of them are opposites like the examples you give and they are not all comprised of characters individually considered nouns. 動物 ("doubutsu"), for example, is the noun for "animals", but the characters mean "moving" and "things", respectively.

This brings me to construction. Jukugo are described as having five general ways of being constructed:

1. Subject-verb types where the first is the subject and the second is the verb.
2. Complementary types where the first is the verb and the second is the direct object.
3. Modifier/adjectival types where the first acts as an descriptor of the second.
4. Confirmation types where the two characters mean approximately the same thing.
5. Negation types where the first character negates the meaning of the second.

You can have 3 or 4 characters make up a noun too, and these are sanjijukugo (三字熟語) and yojijukugo (四字熟語) and, as the name dictates, are idioms made from three or four characters. There are whole dictionaries of these as well and you can search for them online by copying/pasting these into Google.

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Michael DePaula


Anything pertaining to daily conversation, music, historical/modern forms of Japanese-character writing, computer/IT-related vocabulary, and aquatic sciences.


14 years of Japanese study with about 10 of those years in Japan.

Global Underwater Explorers, Okinawa Underwater Explorers, Okinawa Freethought Society

Degree in Music Performance, University of Southern California. 10+ years working the IT/computer programming world. 8 years of amateur translation assistance. 8 years in marine conservation/technical dive exploration in Japan.

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