Wordcatcher Tales: Hodohodo, Czechia, Kanakysaurus

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal about a “shocking” new slacker attitude among Japanese workers referred to such workers as the hodohodo-zoku ‘so-so folks’. By itself, the word hodo (程) translates into ‘degree, limit, distance, status, amount’, and its reduplication, 程程, suggests ‘moderation’ or ‘judiciousness’. Grammatically, hodohodo behaves like an ideophone, but then ideophones in Japanese generally behave like nouns. To make it into a verb, you have to add -suru ‘do, be’, to make it into an adverbial you add the postposition ni, and so on. But I suspect hodohodo fails one test for onomatopoeic ideophones in Japanese: the ability to occur before -to ‘with’, in the equivalent of English ‘with a [plop-plop, fizz-fizz, etc.]’. I await correction from Matt of No-sword.

Last weekend, I also had the opportunity to meet a scholar visiting from the Czech Republic, who repeatedly referred to her nation as Czechia—a most sensible formulation which I subsequently found to have had official sanction since 1993 (along with Česko, the Czech equivalent), but which seems to be very slow to spread among English speakers, who perhaps still feel guilty about agreeing to carve up Czechoslovakia in 1938 and want to compensate by resisting any attempt to shorten the fuller form of its current name. However, feeling no guilt on that score despite my English heritage, I henceforth resolve to refer to that glorious center of historic dissidence as Czechia, plain and simple. In fact, I’ve just added Czechia to my list of country categories for this blog. I had already added Bohemia before, but that does no justice to Moravia, which has, if anything, an even greater tradition of religious dissidence.

Finally, I see that the latest issue of Pacific Science (vol. 63, no. 1, 2009, but already online at BioOne) reports the discovery of a new species of a lizard genus indigenous to New Caledonia, a viviparous skink genus with the wonderfully appropriate name, Kanakysaurus.


1 Comment

Filed under Czechia, Japan, language, nationalism, Pacific, scholarship, science

One response to “Wordcatcher Tales: Hodohodo, Czechia, Kanakysaurus

  1. Aw, I’m not such a curmudgeon! To be honest I’m fuzzy on this area too. I think “hodohodo” is considered a 擬態語 though (mimetic of state as opposed to sound/voice).

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