Why do we say “round” when we mean “turn”?

It used to be common to refer to a round as a “rotation”. Until the 1990s, the word “rotation” appeared in newspaper sports articles, such as “Venus completes first round”. This is a translation of the English word ’round’. It means the first game of a match. Rotation is a Japanese kanji word. It’s a kanji that doesn’t appear in the Joseon Dynasty records, so it’s believed to be a post-Japanese occupation word.

The Meiji Restoration brought Western culture and ideas to Japan, and sports terms were translated into Japanese kanji to make them easier to understand. The translations of rounds as “turn” and “battle” as “return” and “fight” are likely due to Japan’s victories in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894 and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904, which encouraged patriotism in sports. Through poetry, military songs, and literary works such as The Sailor’s Mother, the country’s loyalty was instilled in the flesh and bones of its citizens. Sports were no exception to this rule. Originally, the English word “round” had no war or military connotations at all, but the concept seeped into the Japanese language.안전놀이터

According to English dictionaries, round, which originally meant round, first appeared in official documents between 1250 and 1300. It came to English from Latin rotundus and Old French ront. According to the American Paul Dixon Dictionary of Baseball Terms, the word round began to be used in baseball to mean an inning in 1859, during the early days of American baseball. The word was borrowed from boxing, the dictionary explains. (See “Why do we say ’round’?” in this Corner #775.)

In tournaments, the word round is used to refer to a number of spins or turns. The quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals are called quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals, respectively, but you can also add round to them and call them quarterfinal round, semifinal round, and final round. It’s also not uncommon to refer to the quarter-finals as a “round of eight” and the round of 16 as a “round of sixteen.” Round is also used for non-tournament matches. (See “Why do we say ‘tournament’?”, #338.)

In Korea, we can see that round was used in its original pronunciation as early as the 1920s. In the Chosun Ilbo article ‘Various Decisions on the Debut Cup’ dated 14 March 1925, it was announced that ‘The American Table Tennis Association will hold its annual general meeting in Yuyuk, and the dates of this year’s Debut Cup, Challenges and Rules will be held on the court of the Jamandown Cricket Club in the entertainment department for three days from the 10th of September. Also, in the announcement made on the twenty-fifth day of January, it was reported that the sixth-ranked player of the United States Table Tennis Association (USTA), Watthorne Watsupan, had been removed by the committee from the sixth-ranked position to the eighth-ranked position.” The word “round” was used in the name of the tournament, Davis Cup Challenge Round, and it was reported in Korean.

However, the Korean media used the word rotation more than round. This is because sports fans over 40 are more familiar with the word rotation, such as ‘first round’ and ‘second round’. Since the 2000s, the word round has been preferred to rotation, but the media still uses expressions such as first round, second round, etc. People create words, but words also influence human society and consciousness. It may be for this reason that Koreans translate the English word “round” into Japanese kanji for “rotation” and thus have a concept of war that does not exist in the original language.

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