sci.lang.japan FAQ / 4. Words from other languages

4.1. Is arigatō related to Portuguese "obrigado"?

No. Arigatō (ありがとう), the Japanese for "thank you", comes from arigatai (有難い), a conjunction of the verb aru, "to have", with the ending gatai (難い) which means "difficult". The "ou" ending comes from the conjunction of the adjectival arigataku with the polite verb gozaimasu (originally from gozaru).

Other common examples of this type of conjugation include omedetō gozaimasu (congratulations) from medetaku and ohayō gozaimasu (good morning) from hayaku. The word arigatai existed in Japanese long before the Japanese ever encountered Portuguese, and can be found in some of the earliest Japanese literature. In the form arigatashi it is found in the Manyōshū poem number 4011, dating from circa 759 (See 1.3.10. What is ?) and in Makura no Sōshi [The Pillow Book] dating from 1002. Although Japanese does contain many loanwords from Portuguese (see 4.2. Which Japanese words come from Portuguese?), the earliest recorded contact between Japan and Portugal was in 1543.

"Obrigado" in Portuguese comes from Latin "obligare". The change from l to r is typical of Latin-derived Portuguese words.

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sci.lang.japan FAQ / 4. Words from other languages

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