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「山手線」 is spelled two different ways in the dictionary. Both Tangorin and Denshi Jisho list it as… - Feed Post by JigokunoOusama

「山手線」 is spelled two different ways in the dictionary. Both Tangorin and Denshi Jisho list it as 「やまのてせん」 and 「やまてせん」. Is this first spelling official, or is it based on preference? In the practice section it counts using the spelling 「やまてせん」as incorrect.
posted by JigokunoOusama

Comments 6

  • mog86uk
    The official pronunciation is 'やまのてせん', according to Japanese National Railways.
    I too was confused when I came across this, so I went and looked it up. :)

    Apparently, after World War II when railway signs had to be romanised, the original romanisation was 'YAMATE LINE', and therefore pronounced either way.
    However, later they changed the romanisation on the signs to match the official pronunciation, Yamanote, but some people still remember the old alternative pronunciation or just use it instead anyway.
  • Shadd
    The の particle in many old place names is most often omitted in the writing. I've seen this happening a lot.
  • Aarowaim
    の is the possessive particle. 山 + 手 = やま + て, however, the original name was 山の手 (mountain's hand). Thus, in staying true to the origins of the name, the の is always pronounced.

    All-in-all, you hear proper nouns often enough that in some cases, especially in writing, it is entirely possible to remove the possessive. In English, the same pattern is seen in place names like 'Kingsway' or 'Queen's Cross' and in surnames like 'Robertson' and 'Davidson'.
  • Aarowaim
    By the way, an example of the の being dropped, rather than preserved in pronunciation often appears in the names of locations; 新宿駅 as opposed to 新宿の駅.
  • Shadd
    What you said about this occurring in english is not entirely correct: composite words are different from word with a possessive, though the semantic value is often the same: you're not dropping the possessive, you're forming the logic correlation in a completely different way that doesn't require it.
    As for the names, those are akin to what I just said: though you could translate them to "Son of Robert" and the like, they are really derived from the patronymic forms used in the languages from which english was born, so they aren't shortened forms of "son of x", they're words born as you can see them now, while the japanese words we're talking about retain all of the possessive forms except the visual writing of it.
  • JigokunoOusama
    Thank you for the replies!