Word of the day – 自動販売機

jidohanbaiki - Japanese vending machines

自動販売機 (jidōhanbaiki),
noun = vending machine

Breaking this word down into its compontent parts we get:
自動 (jidō) automatic (self move);
販売 (hanbai) selling;
機 (ki) machine.

This word can also be shortened to 自販機 (jihanki), which demostrates a typical method of abbreviating words in Japanese: you get rid of the second character in each pair.

Vending machines are ubiquitous in Japan – everywhere you look you’ll see one, or a whole bank of them, even on top of mountains! They sell an incredible variety of things, including hot and cold food, drinks (tea, coffee, beer, whiskey, etc), flowers, clothes, cigarettes, rice, eggs, jewellery, videos and comic books. According to Wikipedia, there’s one vending machine for every 23 people in Japan.

Related words
自動ドア (jidōdoa) = automatic door
自動車 (jidōsha) = car – in Chinese a car is 汽車 (qìchē) lit. “spirit cart”
自動操縦装置 (jidōsōjūsōchi) = autopilot

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This entry was posted in Japanese, Language, Words and phrases.

12 Responses to Word of the day – 自動販売機

  1. Joseph Staleknight says:

    Wow. For all I know, a vending machine for practically everything seems so futuristic, compared with what we have here in America.

  2. Benjamin says:

    One vending machine for every 23 people? And you can buy flowers, eggs and rice from them? Japanese are a bit crazy sometimes. ;-)

    I also heard of this abreviation technique: The most popular has to be “SuDoku”. But there are also other ways of abreviating, like in the word for “impotence”: “inpo” which is derieved from German “Impotenz”. It’s also interesting how many words in the range of medicine and mountain climbing were adopted from German.

    abuzairen – abseilen – to rope down/to abseil ;-)
    aisuhaken – Eishaken – piton
    gipusu – Gips – cast [med.]

    off topic:
    I wonder why Bonifacius is posting the same two sentences everywhere.
    If you can’t reply properly you just shouldn’t reply at all. Don’t just spam.

  3. Mike says:

    Also on the topic of German words borrowed into Japanese, I’m a bit surprised by one example:

    アルバイト(arubaito) means “part-time job,” from the German ‘Arbeit’, meaning “work.” While the correlation is obvious in terms of meaning, the thing that gets me is the pronunciation. In the original German, the word sounds more like “ah-bite”, yet the “r” is given a hard pronunciation when borrowed into Japanese. To me, a more accurate pronunciation would have been アーバイト (aabaito).

  4. TJ says:

    My friend went to Japan few months ago and he stated that fact: vending machines are indeed part of the community over there!
    That would be nice for me also since I spend my day at work drinking coffee and cold drinks all from “simple” vending machines. It is indeed a disaster when you have no coins to go along with your day without drinking anything in your place. The funny thing is that you might have no coins while your wallet has maybe 50KD or more (I think =$150), so I guess we would call such people “the rich poor” or more compact …. “poorich”
    Believe me guys …… THOSE MACHINES ARE SOMETHING INDEED!!!

  5. Benjamin says:

    @Mike
    Isn’t it strange that Japanese has adopted the word “Arbeit” in the first place? I mean Japanese work so hard all the time and they even have a word for “death from overwork” [karoshi] 過労死 (hope the kanji worked – never used the IME before) why would they need another word for “work”?

    But to come back to the “r”: In some regions here in Germany you roll the “r” a bit like in Spanish. Maybe the Japanese heard that version and thus wrote it “arubaito”. Hm, I don’t really know it either…

  6. Simon says:

    Benjamin – use of words from foreign languages in Japanese is considered very trendy, even when perfectly good Japanese words exist. Most of the words come from English, but a few come from other languages like German.

    The pronunciation of the words is changed to fit Japanese phonology. As most consonants have to have vowels after them, this results in words like arubaito. I suspect that pronunciation was based partly on the written form of the word. These days, the word is often shortened to baito.

    Another interesting thing they do in Japan is to abbreviate foreign loanwords and to create new compounds of foreign and/or Japanese words. For example, pasukom comes from pasunaru kompyutaa (personal computer), amefuto from amerikan futobaru (American football), and of course karaoke, from kara (empty) and okesutora (orchestra).

  7. With regard to the sample jukugo (compound words) mentioned at the beginning of this thread, one of them shows how tricky the relation between Japanese and Chinese may be, despite both languages make use of the same glyphs.
    “Car” is 自動車 jidōsha in Japanese (literally “self-moving vehicle”), and 汽車 qìchē in Chinese.
    The same compound 汽車 exists in Japanese, as well, pronounced kisha, …which means “steam train”!
    What looks like a contradiction is due to the different meaning nuances that many compounds have in the two languages, despite their glyphs, taken individually, apparently match. In fact, splitting the word, both in Japanese and in Chinese 汽 means “steam, vapour” and 車 means either “vehicle” or “wheel”. Old trains were steam-powered, but also some very early cars used solid fuels such as coal; Japanese sticks to the former meaning, Chinese to the latter.
    Conclusion: trying to understand both languages knowing only one of the two may sometimes lead to big mistakes; the same might happen trying to understand a compound word, in either language, by ‘summing’ the meaning of the individual glyphs it is spelt with.

  8. renatofigueiredo says:

    Dear Simon, I don’t speak Japanese, but I have a doubt. I think there is a word in Japanese “nehmasteh”, is it true? Recently I read a dictionary in Nepali language and I found the word ‘nahmahteh’, which means hi!, hello! My question is: If there is a similar word in Japanese, does it mean the same?. It’s funny to see that two languages from diferent families can have so similar words.

  9. Simon says:

    Renato – I don’t think there is a Japanese word “nehmasteh”, but the word “namaste”, meaning hello, certainly exists in Hindi and Nepali.

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  12. felician says:

    Hi!
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