08 November 2018



The word tsunami unfortunately turns up in the news regularly as this devastating effect of earthquakes is not uncommon. It is particularly common particularly in the Pacific Islands and coasts. An earthquake far out in the ocean is capable of creating enough vibration to displace massive amounts of seawater and send deadly waves at islands and coastlines.

It should not be surprising that the term comes from the Pacific islands of Japanese. Two words are combined:  TSU  (pronounced sue) which means "harbor" and NAMI (nah me) which means "wave." The word distinguishes other words to describe waves as a very large one that enter a normally safe harbor.

Katsushika Hokusai: The Great Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura) 
The waves in this work are sometimes mistakenly referred to as tsunami (津波),
but they are more accurately called okinami (沖波), great off-shore waves.

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