In Japanese, why is the demonstrative "あそこ" instead of just "あこ"?
August 13, 2014 2:18 PM   Subscribe

Japanese demonstratives follow the こそあど pattern, such as with これ/それ/あれ/どれ and この/その/あの/どの, so why does the pattern change with ここ/そこ/あそこ/どこ? Logically, shouldn't あそこ be あこ? Why isn't this the case?

I'd prefer academic sources, but any and all information is greatly appreciated!
posted by reductiondesign to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
GoGen might be able to help:
posted by Nevin at 3:13 PM on August 13, 2014

Best answer: The short answer is that あこ is a word, which one does not hear in 標準語 although it can be heard in certain western dialects where あそこ is deemed to feel cold or bookish. (I speak a western dialect)

I do not know that there is a scholarly explanation for this. I have only ever seen pet lay theories. But ultimately, the reason why it isn't "logical" is that language has no requirement to be logical. That is just the way the language evolved. It's just like how the past of 行く is 行った and not 行いた. Words get to be irregular.

If you are of a scholarly bent, in classical Japanese, the word was originally かしこ, such as in 「かしこより人おこせば、これをやれ」(伊勢物語), and then became あしこ (「あしこに籠(こも)りなむのち」)(源氏物語) followed by あそこ. No one seems to know the meaning of the original し or why it became a そ.
posted by Tanizaki at 3:14 PM on August 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

The interesting (to me at least) thing about what Tanizaki said about あこ existing as a dialect is that apparently, あこ is actually a shortened form of あそこ・あしこ because あそこ appears in older texts! Which brings us back to why the そ is there, not answering your question at all.
posted by misozaki at 5:01 PM on August 13, 2014

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