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Kevin Flynn

Hi. I hope you won't think that this post simply betrays my naïveté, but I was wondering...

Can reduplication also be an expression of an affectionate attitude towards someone/something in Japanese? I'm thinking of Puccini's opera "Madama Butterfly", in which the leading character is called (with Italian spelling) Cio-cio-san -- i.e., 蝶々さん.

蝶 (alone) means "butterfly", of course, but I've been told that Puccini did consult native Japanese-speakers when composing his opera.


The reason that rendaku doesn't show up in 東京 is because the compound is entirely on-yomi, i.e. the pronunciation of the characters was borrowed from a Middle Chinese dialect, and rendaku almost never applies to on-yomi compounds ("kabushikigaisha" being the sole exception, I think). All the rest of the examples you cited are Yamato-kotoba, i.e. native Japanese vocabulary.

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