Non-Japanese Loanwords used in English Go Discussions?


I think I’ve got to dispute you on a few points.

First, Proto-Germanic is a proposed ancestor language to English, so it’s not right to say *twai was a loanword. It’d be like saying Modern English borrowed a load of words from Middle English, or Middle English from Old English. In reality the language just evolved.

Second, *twai is a reconstructed word, there’s no actual proof that it existed.

Third, Wiktionary seems ambivalent as to whether run came from Norse rinna or from Old English rinnan directly from Proto-Germanic, or a combination of the two.

Fourth, there’s a distinction between loanwords that have been in English long enough to mutate into entirely new words, loanwords that have stayed mostly the same but have received an anglicised spelling and / or pronunciation, and loanwords that have retained the original spelling and pronunciation (to a large extent.)

We’ve romanised the Japanese loanwords, OK, but the romanisation still reflects a Japanese orthography in hiragana. For instance, take hane; it reflects the hiragana は (“ha”) and ね (“ne”) and we pronounce it “ha-nay” in a way close to the original Japanese, rather than “hain”. If hane was an old loanword, like from the 17th century, then it would likely have been given an anglicised spelling like “hanay”.



i actually use “keima” more than “small move” or “small knight”


I meant “extension” as the equivalent to “enclosure”. I listed “nobi” above as “push” - can it also mean “connect”, i. e. out of an atari?


Aah my bad, i thought it as extending a stone xD
“biraki” refers like an extension from a current position toward the side.

@bugcat yeah i was mostly just joking there ^___^


Japanese only

There are some some books that translate tesuji to “finesse” or “skilful play” but those are quite rare and might be more a feature of 20th-century publishing. Definitely tesuji is the only word I hear used.

Also, “overtime” is used fairly often instead of byo-yomi, especially if the over-time format is not actually byo-yomi in the strict sense. The rest I agree with.

Japanese only, but rarely used regardless

I sometimes hear “hane-connect” instead of hanetsugi.

More common in Japanese than English

I don’t hear suji used much. I think perhaps it’s in more use amongst pros and dans than kyus. Then again, I’m not sure whether it’s more or less common than the English and Korean alternatives.

Slightly more in English than Japanese

I’ve found:
kosumi more popular than “diagonal”,
yose about the same as “endgame” (endgame, not endgame move)
shimari more popular than “enclosure”,
approach more popular than “kakari”,
the specific phrase “shortage of liberties” to be most common,
“opening” hard to say if more or less common than fuseki,
and semeai more common than “capturing race”.

Much more common in English than Japanese

I think keima and ogeima are more popular than their Japanese counterparts. You might be right about the others.

English only

I think I’ve heard some English material use hasamitsuke for clamp, though it is rare.

I don’t think I’ve once heard the term “elephant eye”. In English material it’s generally an “elephant jump”, referencing the Chinese term (itself from the movement of the Xiangqi piece.) Personally I tend to use “valley jump” which is a direct translation of the Japanese hazama tobi. Hazami tobi itself sees some use in English work.

Warikomi and ikken tobi I think I’ve also seen English-language writers use.

Some other terms I’d add

“Kick” (more common in English, but some people use Japanese kosumitsuke (literally “kosumi connection”. I think it’s more a feature of older material and speakers.)

Chosei (“eternal life”): A position that can be repeated endlessly without either one player losing points or violating a local ko rule. You can hear both the Japanese and English versions in use.

“Dog’s head” and “horse’s head”: These shape terms are both translated from Japanese but no-one really uses the Japanese versions. The same for “sake bottle”.

“Two-space base” and other “N-space base” terms: I’ve never heard this concept expressed in a non-English language.

“Cross-cut”: Only ever heard it in English.


Sometimes I look at French go content and they use more japanese words than we would in English, so I end up very confused (i.e. they use shape words like keima / nobi / tsuke / ikken-tobi a lot, as well as geta and the names of particular points (which I never remember except for the san-san), etc)

I’ve also heard some people say oiotoshi a lot where most of us would just say capture race; I have not correlated this with their native languages though.


The elephant eye is the space in between, not the jump itself

Known in Japanese as kirichigai

Oiotoshi is not a capture race though, it is when you atari a group that is still in atari if it connects. I think the English term is connect-and-die. The japanese means chase and fall/remove.

What about the names of the corner positions other than 3-3:
4-4: Hoshi (“star”)
3-4: Komoku (“small intersection” or lit. “small eye”)
3-5: Mokuhazushi (something like “getting-out intersection”)
4-5: Takamoku (“High intersection”)
6-5: Omokuhazushi (“Big mokuhazushi”)
4-6: Otakamoku (“Big takamoku”)
5-5: Gonogo (lit. 5-5)

And what about the fuseki’s:
Chinese: Chugokuryu (lit. “Chinese flow”)
Small / mini Chinese: Minichugokuryu (lit. “mini Chinese flow”)
Kobayashi / Shusaku fuseki: Kobayashi / Shusaku ryu (how surprising)
Nirensei: (“two aligned stars”)
Sanrensei: (“three aligned stars”)
Yonrensei: (“four aligned stars”)
Gorensei: (“five aligned stars”)


There’s a story that the British Go Federation once decided to issue rank certificates, I believe it was in around 1980. Well, to earn a certificate you might have had to pass a practical evaluation of your play, I’m not sure; but you also had to pass a “theory” test concerning your knowledge of the game. The certificate for shodan, or perhaps it was even for one of the SDK ranks, asked the examinee to define what “oi-otoshi” meant. A majority of British dan players who took the test couldn’t do it. This amongst other issues led to the ranking certificates being scrapped.

That said, I think we have a few British players in the forums who remember the scene of the 1980s so they might be able to sharpen up this anecdote.


Very interesting points. :slight_smile:

yose about the same as “endgame” (endgame, not endgame move)”

I’ve heard it used both ways, but I think you’re right that it’s more often used to mean “endgame”.

shimari more popular than “enclosure”,
approach more popular than “kakari”,”

Fascinating. I wonder why :slight_smile:

“I think keima and ogeima are more popular than their Japanese counterparts.”

You worded this confusingly. I assume you meant English counterparts?

““Kick” (more common in English, but some people use Japanese kosumitsuke

I forgot about this one when I went to bed around 5am last night :slight_smile:

Chosei (“eternal life”): A position that can be repeated endlessly without either one player losing points or violating a local ko rule. You can hear both the Japanese and English versions in use.”

I’ve never even heard of this concept before. :slight_smile:


“What about the names of the corner positions other than 3-3: […] And what about the fuseki’s:”

The list would get pretty long, so I think I’ll just get rid of the 3-3 entry :slight_smile:


Perhaps we could add a Go Terms page to the wiki documentation?


Updated my post a bit. :slight_smile:


Yeah, that should read “English counterparts”.


There’s already one on Sensei’s Library:


There should be something more important as the meaning of the words, like how they please our ears or how they testimony on our specific ama problems.

For example this oiotoshi, which is just a very specific case of lack of liberties with snapbacks and throw-in on the edge.
(Some not so useful words in Japanese here uttegaeshi… I don’t remember the second one ?) I like snapback English word, it’s nice example of good find.

So we did memorize this oiotoshi, and even ask Dan players for qualifying in test on their Weiqi culture!

I use kosumi tsuke instead of kick maybe because kick as a positive feeling that I don’t like ( it can sometimes be valuable but leads to very bad shape most if the time, not including making the other strong). Kick? Maybe in USA only, quite rare use in my experience.


As another side note, a lot of the three-syllable Japanese words seem to be stressed on the wrong syllable in English:

joseki (should be joseki)
tesuji (should be tesuji)
tewari (should be tewari)
tsumego (should be tsumego)

Some are stressed on the second syllable in Japanese, though:


Some I’m not sure about, would appreciate clarification:


Those are stressed on the first syllable too… right?


It’s a little difficult, since Japanese is not a stressed language, but a pitched one. In particular, each “syllable” (called a mora in this context, as it is more time-sensitive and does not always align with what a syllable is) is supposed to have the same length, in contrast with stressed languages, and multiple morae can be high pitched in a word (whereas multiple syllables can’t be stressed in English)

Joseki (jo-u-se-ki) for example has 4 morae (instead of 3 syllables). Since the “Jo” sounds twice as long as “se” and “ki” (because it’s two morae), it appears to be stressed, but it isn’t.

Another example is that in ponnuki (po-n-nu-ki) the first “n” is in itself a mora as well, which can have pitch as well (I don’t know about how ponnuki is pitched, but “konnichiwa” (ko-n-ni-chi-wa) has a low pitch “ko” and a high pitch “n” in what would be the same syllable in English).

To complicate matters, pitch is highly dialect specific, sometimes even reversing between different dialects. It would be like the Americans say “to MA to” while the British would say “TO ma to”. One funny example is that the word for bridge (hashi) and the word for chopsticks (hashi) are pitched oppositely in the Tokyo and Kansai dialects (and then there’s also a third hashi, meaning edge).

I think imagining the first syllable to be stressed in English would more closely reflect Japanese pronunciation, as it has the effect of making all syllables have the same length: “A ta ri” instead of “a TA-- ri”, which sounds to Japanese people as if it has 4 morae (あたあり instead of あたり). A British “a” would also help, since the American “a” sounds more like “e”.


Thanks, very interesting. :slight_smile:


ko (vs. “heavy investment in recapturing a single stone.”)

Please add Poke.