A meta-followup to this example question:

Why is 空【くう】, and not 無【む】, used to define "void", "emptiness" in a buddhist context? What are their nuances?

Keeping in mind that language questions with a buddhist connection (e.g asking for the meaning of a word used in buddhist scriptures) should be 100% fine...

What about questions that rely heavily on knowledge of buddhist traditions to explain the language aspect, e.g.: "What is the nuance between kanji/words X and Y in buddhist culture?"

Japanese buddhist terms do constitute a whole sub-section of the Japanese language. I think such questions should be fine, but thought it would be worth discussing and addressing explicitly (even though I honestly doubt we'll be overrun any time soon).

If we allow them, does anybody have anything against the creation of a tag?

2 Answers 2


Specifically because in Japanese dictionaries there are usually brackets (Buddhist-usage) by separate meanings of some words, I think that it qualifies as a language subset (as long as it's more about the terms than the concepts). Perhaps make the tag "Buddhist Terms" or something to stress that the questions should be about language.

  • Nice solution to the tag problem. It puts the focus from culture back on language, which should help with some people's objections.
    – rintaun
    Jun 30, 2011 at 18:59
  • I agree that "buddhist terms" would be a slightly clearer tag... however keep in mind that the general convention on tags is to go for broader terms when possible and to avoid any extraneous words that can easily be inferred from the context of the site (e.g.: we removed 'japanese' from all the tags such as 'japanese-dialects' etc). It is implied that all tags on JLU are taken in the context of "japanese language & usage"... In light of that, I don't know if "buddhist-terms" is better than "buddhism"...
    – Dave
    Jul 1, 2011 at 1:51
  • I would be more comfortable with "buddhist-terms" than "buddhism" is a small tweak, but it does a lot to convey that the important aspect is the language, not the cultural considerations.
    – Questioner
    Jul 1, 2011 at 2:11

I have two thoughts on this:

One, the specific question you mention is on topic because it is about a particular contextual use, and it's about kanji, words, and definitions. Not to mention that anyone walking down a street in Japan might come across one of the stone monuments that contain this particular kanji and wonder about it.

Two, I am against the adoption of a "buddhism" tag. While I can see that Buddhism and Shinto are obviously huge influences on Japanese language and culture, the idea of singling out Buddhism (or any other religion) as a tag identifier puts focus on the cultural over the linguistic.

If the question is relevant enough to this site, then it will be so because of the words and usage, and that it originated from any particular religion will just be part of the explanation without needing it's own identifier.

  • 5
    @Dave: I understand your reservation on the buddhism tag, but my view is that it would still be useful to people browsing or filtering and interested in buddhist usage of Japanese. As well as to clearly indicate that the question is within a buddhist context (not, for example, the general difference between 空 and 無)... Buddhism terms should be a valid subset of Japanese (much like, say "business" or "dialects") and the linguistic-over-cultural aspect is implied on JLU, making "buddhist-japanese" redundant...
    – Dave
    Jun 30, 2011 at 6:15

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