Teach Yourself Japanese
Subject: Re: saru
From: TAKASUGI Shinji (tssf.airnet.ne.jp)
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2004 08:42:46 GMT
Speaking of saru, you might be interested in defining the word precisely. The Japanese word saru means any primates, usually excluding humans. The character 猿 is used for it. It typically means Japanese macaques, short-tailed monkeys native to Japan. The English word monkey means primates excluding apes and prosimians. This difference makes the translation of Planet of the Apes a little awkward. In that movie, apes believe the hierarchy of simians to be apes, humans, and monkeys. But it is translated to "猿の惑星" (Saru no Wakusei) in Japanese, which means the planet of the monkeys (primates excluding humans). The Japanese word for apes is 類人猿 (ruijin'en), which literally means human-like monkeys and doesn't sound appropriate in that movie.
Chinese differentiates apes and monkeys like English does: 猿 and 猴. The former means only apes unlike in Japanese, and is divided into 猩猩 (anthropoids) and 長臂猿 (gibbons). It was originally written as 猨 and meant gibbons, which lived in China when the climate was warmer. The phonetic radical 爰 meant to pull something (such as a branch) and is used in 援. The latter, 猴, typically means rhesus macaques, and includes 狒狒 (baboons), etc.
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