Saturday, November 9, 2013

The HIGA Name


Minnasan konnichi wa: (Nihongo o benkyo shite imasu kara taihen heta desu yo.)

Higa no namae wa do iu imi ka na? Muzukashii desu ne? De mo kono 'explanation' wa anatatachi ni de gozaimasu.

I remember Mom describing the name once to me when I was in Okinawa searching for Granpa Higa's sister, Waniya Kobashigawa. Also, my good friend Stan Sotsuda (who retired from the US Army, married an Okinawan lady and raised his family there - he was the manager of the Commissary at Camp Butler, and of course, a bowler) who helped me to locate the Kobashigawa in Nakagusuku-son.

While there is no completely solid definition for "Higa" ('Fija' or 'Fiija' as it is said in Uchi-na-guchi - Okinawan Language) the characters in our last name are made up of "Comparison" and "Praise."

Mom and Stan both agreed that the closest definition could be, "peaceful cooperation," or "calm negotiation" - or something to that effect.

This uncertain definition and/or meaning in translating Japanese to English makes sense to me since, in my attempts to study Nihon-go, I'm finding that a great majority of Japanese words and phrases have only literal meaning when translated into English.

This is possibly why many English words are popularly used in the spoken Japanese such as, "I Love You," "Thank You, "Okay," "Good Luck," and "Congratulations." (Phonetically - "Ai Rub Yu" "Sank Yu" "OK!" "Guud Ruck" "Congra-chu-ray-shun" (remember Nihonjin learn to pronounce words by memorizing "ma-mi-mu-me-mo; ka-ki-ku-ke-ko; sa- shi-su-se-so; ta-tchi-tsu-te-to; etcetera)

When I was traveling in and out of Japan back in the 1980's, it was reported that the Crown Prince, (now the current Emperor of Japan) proposed to his fiancee in English because it was easier to say than in Japanese? Might be Urban Legend but that's what I understood it to be.

As omoshiroi as it may sound, modern-day Nihon-jin, nowadays, will tend to pop in an English word in the middle of a sentence, much the same way that Hawaii Japanese have been doing for many years. It's because the meanings of English words or phrases have a more direct meaning than if they were to be said in Nihongo.

Ta-to-e-ba, take the phrase, "I Love You." In Nihon-go the phrase could be said in various ways such as: "Suki desu," "Dai Suki Desu," "Anata no koto was suki desu," and so forth.

So, anyway, let's stick with "Peaceful Cooperation" or "Calm negotiation," for the meaning of "Higa," okay?

It's too bad I never asked Mom about, "Matsumoto." From my little knowledge of Japanese, the most common translation would be - "Matsu = Pine Tree" and "Moto = Foundation, origin, or base."

I-jyo, desu.

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