3.10.2008

gusset from machi

The more Japanese I read and translate, the less katakana I seem to know. I think it's also because more katakana words have entered the language because of globalization.

I was recently confounded by the word マチ (machi). It didn't originate from English, because it was describing the bottom of a bag. So I did a search, and found out that it means gusset, which is "a usually diamond-shaped or triangular insert in a seam...to provide expansion or reinforcement."

I also found some websites of companies that sell bags with gussets. What's lame is that I'd never heard of a "gusset" before. It sounded like an old word, and I was right about that, since it comes from Middle English (16th century). I'd also never heard anyone use the word "gusset", and I'm sure if I were to ask people if they knew what it was, I'd get different responses.

Now that I know the meaning, I still don't know what language "machi" comes from.

Update: commenter Paul said that "machi" isn't a foreign word (マチ), but is the reading (まち) for ! My bad :(

5 comments:

Paul D. said...
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Paul D. said...

What I've found is that "katakana=foreign" is not an absolute equation by any means. Japanese often use katakana for abbreviations, words with rare kanji, and obscure items to distinguish them from their original etymologies.

My dictionary gives 襠 as the kanji for まち. Definitely not a foreign word.

Paul D. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul D. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mj said...

Interesting--I know that katakana doesn't always represent foreign words--it seems like they sometimes use katakana instead of kanji or hiragana because they want to emphasize something or make an expression hip or cool. But in this case, I really thought "machi" was a non-Japanese word.

Thanks for the info!