Saturday, January 11, 2014

A new counter!

Japanese has a number of tricky elements that are overcome with time. One of which is the use of many different "counter" words. For those unfamiliar with the concept, it means that there are different words used for counting different types of objects. 

For example if we're counting people, we can say 1人(ひとり)、2人(ふたり)、3人(さんにん)、etc...

If we want to count cars or pieces of large equipment, we use 1台(いちだい)、2台(にだい)、3台(さんだい), etc...

And then if we're counting long, thin objects, we go with 1本(いっぽん)、2本(にほん)、3本(さんぼん), etc...

There are counters for all sorts of categories - small animals, large animals, birds, small objects, countries, bowls, flat objects, floors, etc. You just kind of pick them up as you go along. There are workarounds, kind of. Some people overapply a couple of more "general" counters to simplify conversation (and maybe a little out of laziness).

Anyhow, I was reading an interesting article yesterday about the trend of convenience stores selling "premium" products. It was educational in several ways, but right now I just want to document the sighting of a counter that I was previously unfamiliar with: 斤. I imagine I must have seen this in the past and just not picked up on its meaning, but here we are. It's 「きん」- the counter for loaves!

In context, the article said: 


"Golden bread" is being sold for 250 yen per loaf. 


I wonder if that can stretch to apply to non-bread loaves...


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