Is "rumata" a real word in Japanese, and if so what does it mean and how do you write it properly?
  • I am very sorry to say that I do not know Japanese language at all.

    I am here to try to solve the issue that came up while studying the works of science fiction writers Strugatsky brothers. In one of their best known book, It Is Hard To Be A God, the name of the main character is Rumata.

    One of the brothers, Arkady, now deceased, was also a well-known translator from Japanese who had published in Russian translations from Kobo Abe, Akutagave Runoske, Natsume Soseki and many others.

    The other brother, Boris, remembers that it was Arkady who suggested to name their character Rumata, but is not sure where the word came from, although he suspects it's of Japanese origin.

    Could you please help me with finding the proper Japanese spelling and meaning of the word "rumata" (assuming, of course, that it is a real Japanese word)?

    Thank you,
    Ilya Yudin
  • Rumata (ル又) isn't really a word in Japanese, it's the name of a radical used in kanji (殳), so I doubt that's where it came from.

    Rumata isn't a Japanese name either, not according to the name dictionary at least.

    So yeah, in all probability it was just made up, no real connection to Japanese.
  • Dear Tobberoth,

    Thank you very much for your kind answer.

    Could you please explain it to me in some more detail though? I am not quite sure that I understand it properly.

    For example, I do not know what is a "radical" in kanji (and have rather vague notion about what kanji is too unfortunately). I suspect that you are telling me that "rumata" might be some sort of a grammatical term in Japanese. But why then are you telling me that it is not a word? To me any term is a word, even if it is introduced only to name the grammatical concept. At least that's the case in English (and in Russian too by the way). So I think that I just don't know something essential for understanding your answer and humbly ask for further explanation.

    Best regards,
    Ilya Ydin
  • Posted By: idy58
    [p]Dear Tobberoth,[/p][p]Thank you very much for your kind answer.[/p][p]Could you please explain it to me in some more detail though? I am not quite sure that I understand it properly.[/p][p]For example, I do not know what is a "radical" in kanji (and have rather vague notion about what kanji is too unfortunately). I suspect that you are telling me that "rumata" might be some sort of a grammatical term in Japanese. But why then are you telling me that it is not a word? To me any term is a word, even if it is introduced only to name the grammatical concept. At least that's the case in English (and in Russian too by the way). So I think that I just don't know something essential for understanding your answer and humbly ask for further explanation.[/p][p]Best regards,
    Ilya Ydin[/p]

    A kanji is basically a compound of smaller images called bushu. Bushu is often translated to "radical" in English though that is not really correct. A radical is really a key bushu of a kanji. For example, 字. It's made up of two bushu. One is 子, the other is a roof-looking thing. 子 is the RADICAL of that kanji. It's the key part which is used to categorize that kanji. The radical of the kanji 殴 is... rumata. 殳.

    I wouldn't really call it a grammatical term. It's just a name for that image which is used in some kanji, it doesn't really mean anything and it has another more proper name, hokodzukuri. The reason why it's called rumata is because it looks like the katakana sign "ru" on top of the kanji "mata" (ル and 又). So it IS technically a Japanese word, it is in dictionaries... but it's just a nickname for a part of some kanji, it's not some important term. I'd go as far as to guess that tons of Japanese people don't know what るまた means unless you say it in a proper context.
  • Thanks a lot Tobberoth, now it is all quite clear for me.

    Best regards,
    Ilya Yudin

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