Two Etymologies.

1) Posted by aldiboronti at, quoting the OED (“This took me by surprise, I had no idea of the connection”):

chance, n., adj. and adv.

Etymology: Middle English chea(u)nce, < Old French cheance (= Provençal cazensa, Italian cadenza) < late Latin cadentia falling, < cadent– falling, present participle of cadĕre to fall: compare cadence n.

As I responded in that thread: I must have seen that before, probably more than once, but I’d forgotten it.

2) And while I was looking up chance in AHD, it fell to my lot to notice another interesting connection:

A conglomerate of businesses, usually owned by a single family, especially in Korea.
[Korean chaebeol (formed on the model of Japanese zaibatsu, zaibatsu, by using the Korean pronunciation of the two Chinese characters with which the Japanese word is written) : chae, wealth (from Early Middle Chinese, dzəj; see ZAIBATSU) + beol, powerful family (from Early Middle Chinese buat; see ZAIBATSU).]

Again, if I knew chaebol was etymologically identical to zaibatsu, I’d forgotten. (The Mandarin equivalent would be cáifá; I don’t know if that’s used for both or if they’ve been borrowed back in other forms.)


  1. Bathrobe says

    Chinese Wikipedia has an article on 財閥. It covers the pre-war Japanese zaibatsu and the Korean chaebol.

    It also makes reference to Taiwanese, HK, and Mainland analogues but makes it clear that 財閥 is usually only applied to the Japanese and Korean entities. Large groups in Taiwan are called 財團 cáituán ‘financial groups’ while family-owned groups in Hong Kong are called 集團 jítuán ‘groups’. In Mainland China, the article refers to the large State-owned enterprises (SOEs) as resembling 财阀 cáifá, but they would never be called that in China.

    To sum up, the term 財閥 / 财阀 is used in Chinese only for the historical Japanese and modern Korean groups. While references to the Korean groups as 財閥 / 财阀 can certainly be found in the HK, Taiwanese, and Mainland Chinese press, individual Korean groups tend to be known as 集團 / 集团 jítuán in Chinese.

  2. Thanks, I figured you’d be able to explain the situation!

  3. For Koreans at least, it’s useful to know that the Middle Chinese coda t turns up as ㄹ l in Sino-Korean and as つ tsu (or as ち chi in many Go-on) in Sino-Japanese readings, reflexes of earlier *tu and *ti respectively.

    Then we can recognize for example that keiretsu, which refers to companies linked together through a network of shareholdings, is the Japanese pronunciation of 系列, which in Korean is just 계열 gyeyeol (or kyeyŏl in McCune–Reischauer romanization), which means “series”.

    The original reading of 列 in Sino-Korean is 렬 ryeol, but the ㄹ r exceptionally drops out medially after a vowel or ㄴ n so it becomes 열 yeol in this case. In South Korea, ㄹ r always drops out in Sino-Korean word-initially when followed by [i] or [j] (the surname commonly written Lee or Rhee is actually 이 I in South Korea), but this sort of medial dropping after a vowel or ㄴ n only occurs in the Sino-Korean syllables 렬 ryeol and 률 ryul. In North Korea, they decided to keep all the etymological ㄹ r, so the same word is written (and allegedly pronounced) as 계렬 gyeryeol (MR: kyeryŏl).

  4. I ran across another example of ‘chance’ and ‘falling’: Polish przypadek ‘chance, accident; coincidence; event, instance, case,’ from the Slavic root pad- ‘fall.’

  5. Trond Engen says

    Da./Norw. tilfelle “coincidence; instance, case” , Sw. tillfälle “opportunity; occasion, instance”, Ger. Zufall, LGer. toval, Du. toeval. ON tilfelli, tilfall “what falls to someone, outcome of a situation”. Forms have obviously been calqued and senses borrowed between the Germanic languages, and probably also into Slavic.

  6. Well, they’re all ultimately calqued from Latin.

  7. Trond Engen says

    Yes, quite likely from accidentia.

  8. J.W. Brewer says

    Going back to the now-antique reference in the OP to zaibatsu -> chaebol, is it fair to call that a calque? If not, what should we call it?

  9. We can add German Zufall to the “chance” words based on “fall”.

  10. David Marjanović says

    Going back to the now-antique reference in the OP to zaibatsu -> chaebol, is it fair to call that a calque? If not, what should we call it?

    A spelling-pronunciation.

    My favorite is Hosni Mubārak showing up as Mübarek in Turkish.

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