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Suki-ma

Suki-ma is a native Japanese word meaning 'gap' or 'crevice' that wind, water, or light might come through. It is made up of suki 'crevice, gap', and ma 'space', and is written in Chinese characters as .

The character , however, is of reasonable difficulty. Coupled with the fact that this is a native Japanese word (kun-reading) and not a Chinese-style compound (on-reading), there is a tendency to write suki-ma wholly or partly in hiragana. Take the following example:


Go-zonji desu ka. Suki-ma kara shinobi-komu shigaisen ni wa yō chūi.
Did you know? You have to be careful of UV rays that steal through crevices.

A Google search in August 2003 revealed the following rather confused picture concerning the use of kanji and kana:

Form
No. of occurrences
337,000
63,000
48,600
21,700
4,430
634

Katakana is used in specialised or abstract contexts, e.g. the 'niche' in 'niche industry'. The form is based on the verb suku 'to be transparent, see through'. (Note the form , an erroneous form based on the judgement that an optional can be inserted here. This is not the case here as the character suki is used for the noun only and cannot be used for the verb suku.)

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