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手續 -- why?


jbradfor

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It's commonly said [1] that one aspect of Chinese that is easy to learn is because the meaning of most words are "obvious" once you know the meaning of each individual character.

I disagree, but that is the topic of another post.

Back to the topic, anyone care to help me understand why 手續 means "formalities / procedures"? "手" by itself means hand (or, by extension, someone that does something), and "續" means "continue / replenish". I realize in China it seems that the paperwork continues to keep your hand busy, but that's hardly a derivation <_<

[1] No reference, I'm just going to say it's true because I say so.

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This is an interesting case. I don't find a meaning of 續 relevant to 手續 listed in two of my Chinese-Chinese dictionaries, but I did find in the Shogakukan Chinese-Japanese dictionary a statement that Chinese 手續 is from Japanese 手続き ("日本語の「手続き」から出た言葉"). Which implies that 手續 is an import from Japanese.

(手続き is a Japanese expression, probably not coined with current Chinese usages in mind.)

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I was trying to find information on etymology all across the web and nothing was coming up, although I was pretty sure it was a loan from Japanese. I can't say I understand what the continuation of hands has to do explicitly with procedures, although I can imagine some things. The oldest sense of it in Japanese is a connection, or a place to grab onto something (or a hint... that may not be the sense of 手掛かり they meant, though). There are lots of 手 expressions in Japanese. It has lots of meanings. Just scroll down this page.

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Interesting......

I guess I never thought of Chinese taking "general" words from Japanese. Food, places, slang, yes. But not general words. No idea why not, makes sense that it would.

Thanks!

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Interesting......

I guess I never thought of Chinese taking "general" words from Japanese. Food, places, slang, yes. But not general words. No idea why not, makes sense that it would.

Thanks!

You wouldn't believe how many words Chinese had borrowed from Japanese for the past one hundred years or so, and the number is still increasing especially in Taiwan...

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手続 tse-tsuzuki

You've got an extra "s". It's te-tsuzuki (I'm having a hard time with this being romanized...). Is it in the dictionary like that?

@xiaocai

Wow. That's quite the list!

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