Word of the week #21: tsunami

During the reports of the Japan earthquake and tsunami, the constant explanation was that “tsunami” is a Japanese word. It made me to wonder what was the corresponding word in Japanese. I had to look it up. I also separated the readings. I wasn’t sure which sound corresponded to which kanji. The word in Korean is interesting as it specifies that it is due to an earthquake.

Chinese: 海嘯 (hai xiao)
Japanese: 津波 (つなみ) (tsu nami); 津 (つ) 波 (なみ)
Korean: 지진해일 (地震海溢) (ji jin hae il)

Update: NPR has a piece titled “History Of Tsunami: The Word And The Wave” that has more information about the origins of the word.


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