Talk:Tsunami/Archive 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

This is an archive and should not be modified. Please make any comments about the contents of this page at Talk:Tsunami.

Please I would very much like to know which Editor is deleting the links to the Post-Tsunami (Tunami) Archive (Namely This is the only site that updates it's NEWS album with the latest news and photos from a multitude of sources including NGOs 24/7 and has done so since 26 December. There are over 10,000 photos and several thousand news stories relating to the 26 December earthquake/tsunami (Tunami) and recent Earthquake off Northern Sumatra. With over 5 Gig of information I feel it has plenty to contribute! You will find the links in the photo and news sections in "External links". I would really appreciate it if whoever is responsible could Email me so the matter can be discussed. My Email address is on my profile page in the archive. I have spoken with Terry and he has suggested that I post this message. Kindest regards to all! Peter (POLLYFODDER)

Origin of wave in port

The origin of the term tsunami is from fisherman who came back from fishing and found everything devestated in the port though they didn't see or noticed the wave in the open water. My English is not sufficent so could someone else add this info

I am a Japanese(so that I can't write English well), and I am sure we Japaene have the word of Tsunami. Tsunami is actually discribed by two Kanjis(Chinese Characters) like Tsu-Nami. Tsu means as everybody says, small port or quay where boat can land. Nami means wave. Usually Japanese does not know why TSUNAMI comes from PORT-WAVE. Even to me, I don't know. (For instance, can you answer why you say "knock on woods", when you hope a good luck? Maybe no one can. It might be same thing.)

But my guess is as follows. Tsunami comes from big wave which strikes a port with village. "With Village" is an importatnt point. I mean, originally s TSU meant small port or quay in front of village, but long time after, TSU could become to mean a village name which is with port. That's because I can find several city with "TSU" on its name. So that I would say TSUNAMI means BIG WAVE hitting coastal TOWN. Of course Tsunami strikes everywhere on coastal line, but if no one was there, then no one can see it hitting coastal line and breaks some stuff. So I guess usually you see a lot of people there at village and when you got Tsunami, then possibly someone among them can see it hitting and breaking the village. That's my best guess from Japanese knowledge. We Japanese believes that usually Tsunami is caused by a bigearthquake. Arigato.(Massy,SC Japanese redneck)

It would be interesting to know (for me, anyway) if the word tsunami predates the adoption of Chinese characters -- the reading "tsunami" is the kunyomi, so surely it is possible that the kanji used, while related to the meaning of the world, do not actually give us any indication of its roots. Perhaps people 1500 years ago were marvelling at the power of he strong waves "tsuyoi nami", which gradually became contracted to tsunami. I realize that's a very unlikely theory, but I wonder if someone (more knowledgeable about old Japanese) knows if the kanji can be entirely trusted to indicate the root of tsunami? -- Oarih 03:51, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Massy, again. I checked kannji-TSU(津)meaning in Chinese-Japanese dictionary. This kanji means 4 meanings. 1.Liquid as dripping drop. 2.Ford where a boat can land. 3.Some condition like emerging something continuously. 4.Money for life. As you see, usually one Kanji(Chinese Character) can mean several unrelated meanings each other. But as far as I checked I cannot find a meaning of "STRONG" of which Japanese meaning "TUYOI", as you mentioned above. Therefore I don't think I can support your hypothesis like "TUYOI NAMI" (means strong waves) can be contracted to "TSUNAMI". Arigato. (Massy,Japanese Redneck.SC USA)

Oh, I wasn't seriously suggesting that "tsuyoi nami" was the root of tsunami. What I meant to say was that if the word tsunami is very old, and was created before the introduction of kanji to Japan (as the kunyomi reading might indicate), then it might be incorrect to deduce its "meaning" by looking at the meanings of the individual kanji. -- Oarih 05:43, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)


The photos claiming to be "2004 Indian Ocean tsunami" need to be authenticated. I've seen at last two of these already that are NOT of tsunami NOR from the 2004 tsunami. The photos were of a tidel bore from the Qian Tang Jiang River, in Hangzhou, China


Whether tsunami = tidal wave is a valid question, but first things first: why does the page have it pronounced "s[mung]-N[mung]-[mung]i"???? Even if half the letters weren't munged, it looks more like "so-NO-mi" at best!

The pronunciation is "tsoo-NAH-mee", reflecting the original. I have heard a few illiterate slobs drop the T, but it is giving them far too much credit to say "often pronounced as...". Sure, lots of words are often mispronounced; you don't need to start making excuses for them! What next, Mao Se-Tung and the African Se-Se Fly????

I don't think I've EVER heard anyone pronounce the t in English. /sunami/ IS the normal English pronunciation. Webster's dictionary seems gives the pronunciation with the t in parentheses, indicating optional, so there's at least one authority that accepts the t-less pronunciation. Initial ts- is simply unnatural in the English language. In Japanese it's a different story, obviously. Nik42 08:35, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I am not talking about Japanese; I am talking about English. One would no more say /sumani/ than one would say /se-tung/ or /se-se fly/ (using your notation).

  • Actually, /fly/ wouldn't be using "my notation". I was using IPA. /y/ is French u "Fly" would be /flaj/ in IPA. Nik42 02:50, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Perhaps in the midwest where no one has ever seen water, anything goes. Here on the coasts it has been a common word for a long time, and the T is always pronounced.

  • Well, as I said, Webster's dictionary seems to agree that the /t/ is optional for the English pronunciation. Perhaps it's a regional distinction, with the west coast using the t-pronunciation (which surprises me, but I'll take your word for it), while the Midwest and South (and East coast? at least, based on how I hear it on CNN, et al.) uses the t-less pronunciation. And I've heard /setse/ fly. No one would ever say /s/ in Mao Tse, because they pronounce "Mao-tse" as one word, and /ts/ is quite natural in the middle of words in English. Personally, using /ts/ sounds overly pedantic to me, like using /y/ in French borrowings. Nik42 02:50, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)

If you really want to debate the Japanese *original*, well, then "sunami" means "vinegar wave". I don't recall seeing one of those since the Great Molasses Flood of 1917(?) in Boston.

  • Doesn't this discussion make it obvious that the pronunciation guide should just list both forms, and thus be descriptive rather than prescriptive? --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 01:39, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)
    • Agreed. With, perhaps, a reference to the Japanese pronunciation, as well. Nik42 02:50, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Orphan redirect for Google: tidal wave

I do not agree that Tsunami is a misnomer. Most likely these wave phenomenons were witnesswed in populated areas of Japan, where busy ports just so happened to be found. Thus, the name.

I removed the word "misnomer" from the article. My reason was not because the term "tidal wave" isn't a misnomer — it is. Rather, my reason was because the term "tsunami" is also a misnomer, since it means "wave in port" and tsunami have little more to do with ports than they have to do with tides. Fg2 04:47, Sep 16, 2004 (UTC)

If "tidal wave" is incorrect, why does it redirect here? Does it refer to something else? If it refers to something else, "tidal wave" should go there. If not, then how is it incorrect? Just because a tsunami is not actually a tide doesn't mean that the name "tidal wave" must be incorrect, it's just a name, making a certain comparison to a tide.

Because it is a common name for this type of wave. There is no such thing as a true 'tidal wave', the closest thing would be a tidal bore. But those waves are never called 'tidal waves.' --mav 18:11, 26 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Shouldn't tidal wave redirect to tidal bore instead then? Or perhaps some explanation. Drunkasian 01:57, 27 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I still don't understand why there's no "true" tidal wave. A tsunami is a wave which at first looks like the tide. Sounds like "tidal wave" is entirely accurate.

It shouldn't redirect because "tidal wave" and "tsunami" are synonyms, in common use as such to describe eaethquake-generated wave surges. Tidal bores are an unrelated phenomenon.--Centauri 11:57, 27 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I just looked up tidal wave in the OED to be sure—"an exceptionally large ocean wave, especially one caused by an underwater earthquake or volcanic eruption." Tsunami is a Japanese loan word. IMHO the introduction and redirects need to be changed to reflect Standard English. 05:26, 29 Dec 2004 (UTC)

-- just cause you looked it up does not mean it is correct, tidal wave is not used by academics and is not correct in this instance.

For general use it does not really matter whether you use "tidal wave" or "tsunami" as long as people understand what you mean. I have know oceanographers use both but we have a minor problem in that although the physics involved is essentially the same, both waves have velocities independent of depth and propagate in much the same way, it is sometimes necessary to distinguish between the long waves generated by the Moon and Sun and those generated by earthquakes. The use of the word tsunami solves the problem for everyone except the Japanese, as tsunami to them means tidal wave. See: Neumann, G. and Pierson, W.J., Principals of Physical Oceanography, Prentice-Hall, 1966. For the roots of the word tsunami see Darbyshire, J. and Ishiguro, S., Nature, 1957, Vol 180, p150 (and yes there is an close connection with Kazuo Ishiguro, the author of "An artist of the Floating World"). David Webb 19:55, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)

-- I always thought that for the Japanese it meant Harbor wave.

A gentle reminder—the Oxford English Dictionary is the accepted authority for English usage, whether within academia or not. However, the OED makes no preference between tidal wave or tsunami except to say that tsunami is of Japanese origin. Too, usage of a term only by specialists in a particular field is jargon and would not appear in an encyclopedic article unless noted as such. That is not the case with tsunami, however, since it is an accepted synonym for tidal wave.

Oh, about whether to use tidal wave or tsunami—it is a preferential thing. I can only quote for an authority, EB White's Rule 20 in his addendum to The Elements of Style. "Avoid foreign languages. The writer will occasionally find it convenient or necessary to borrow from other languages. Some writers, however, from sheer exuberance or a desire to show off, sprinkle their work liberally with foreign expressions, with no regard for the reader's comfort. It is a bad habit. Write in English". Amen. If an English word is available that means the same, use it. If we're voting, this article should be titled Tidal wave.

A tsunami caused by an earthquake is not a tidal wave, since it is not created by the tides. In the far north of my state, they have massive tides each day which leave kilometres of sand exposed from the "shore". When the tide comes back in, the water rushes back to shore (and back up rivers) with a huge ferocity - you would not want to be standing in its path. This is very similar to the tsunamis that were caused by the earthquake. However, since the earthquake-caused waves were not at all a result of tides, it is improper to call them tidal waves. The OED is wrong in this case. Just because 'tsunami' has a different literal meaning, the phrase was presumably coined to refer to the phenomenon in question, and its usage in this context is therefore correct. - Mark 12:10, 31 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I've seen them on TV. Must be quite dramatic to actually be there. However, what you have described is caused by tides, not by a tidal wave. Tidal waves are singular events caused by something other than the normal ebbing and flowing of the oceans—earthquakes, storm surges, etc. One of the oddities of English, I guess, is that the tidal in tidal wave refers to every tide-like phenomenon in the world except tides. It may be appropriate, if somewhat misleading, to seek agreement to use tsunami to refer only to tidal waves caused by geologic events under or near the seas, but it's quite incorrect to state that tidal waves are directly related to tides. I'm always looking for new information. If you can provide an authoritative source that says different, I would appreciate it.
Apologies for using United States references and for the delay, but here are a couple of authoritative sources for your perusal:
  • United States Geological Survey (USGS) - in the sidebar on the left it gives a link to a definition of a tsunami and says "Tsunamis are NOT tidal waves. Tidal waves are caused by the forces of the moon, sun, and planets upon the tides, as well as the wind as it moves over the water."
There are plenty more references, if you would like some, ask. - Mark 05:53, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)
This looks like a British-American divide... --Himasaram 20:07, 1 Jun 2005 (UTC)


If the distance between LA and Tokyo is just under 9000km, and tsunamis travel at 700km/h, it would take just under 13 hours - not 18 as stated - for a tsunami generated off the US west coast to reach Japan... or am I missing something here? --Centauri 11:54, 27 Dec 2004 (UTC)

You are more correct than I was, I was thinking of a different subduction zone quake... I think tsunamis go faster though ( i have seen values of up to 500 mph or 800km, I will check with people at work) if it is 800mph it comes out to 11.25 hours but it is a tad bit slower as it approaches the shore.

-- ok, average depth of the pacific is calculated at 4188 meters. so this calculates out to 729 kilometers per hour. This would mean that a Cascadia Quake's tsunami would take like 12 hours and 20 minutes to hit japan.

Names of resulting waves

"When that happened about 8 p.m. Eastern time Saturday, pressure that had accumulated for years or decades was released in an instant. As the earth convulsed, the ocean floor probably fell rapidly in some places and rose elsewhere along a fissure hundreds of miles in length, several experts said. Areas that collapsed saw tons of water plunge in, causing what is known as a depression wave. Elsewhere, the ocean floor reared up, causing water to be displaced -- an elevation wave. It is likely that both effects fed the tsunamis" It seem that the waves generated by the side that sunk is called "depression wave" and the side that suddenly rose leads to "elevation wave" Quite obvious names, but good to know neverthless. [1]

Retreat of water

When a tsunami is approaching shore, the beach waters retreat, yes? What is this called, and where would an article on it be found? Shouldn't it be mentioned here? --Golbez 18:23, Dec 27, 2004 (UTC)

It's mentioned in the "characteristics" section of the article. It happens when the trough of the wave reaches shore before the crest. I wonder if this could explain the story of the Red Sea parting to let Moses cross it, and then collapsing again over his pursuers. Could there have been an undersea earthquake? I don't remember that story real well. Phr 01:57, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)
No, the Red Sea parting is a different phenomenon. For one, if it was a tidal wave, there wouldn't've been enough time for even one person to cross. The origin of that parting appears to have been caused by wind. I can't remember the details now, but in essence, what happens is that along a certain stretch of water, from time to time, a strong wind coming from the north will push the water into a "wall" along the southside, revealing the seabed. Napoleon is said to have taken advantage of this phenomenon as well.

reply to Golbez: I can't find a specific name for this phenomenon, although it has been frequently described. Just before the tsunami hit Lisbon in 1755 (see 1755 Lisbon earthquake), the harbor waters retreated, revealing lost cargo and forgotten shipwrecks. Perhaps this description should be added to the tsunami page as well? --Sandover Dec 27, 2004

The water does not always retreat! In some cases it might, but this does not always happen. A tsunami is just a repetition of BIG waves, which go up and down, but which one comes first depends on the situation. --Anthony Liekens 16:50, 28 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Sometimes the sea retreats and sometimes it floods before a tsunami arrives. According to Geoscience Australia, as reported in today's Sydney Morning Herald, it depends on whether the leading edge of the wave is a trough or a peak. I've modified the article accordingly. --Centauri 03:37, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The answer as to why waters often recede before an approaching tsunami may be more complex, as it is observed that in more than 50% of distal tsunamis the ocean recedes first (drawdown), yet in less than 50% of cases the ocean floor displacement is downward (and also the area of land displaced in a downward direction is usually less than 50% of area displaced). The internal properties of large volumes of water during both internal displacement and long period wave motion may increase the effect of drawdown, especially with increasing distance from source and within deep ocean basins. I haven´t been able to find technical answers on the internet to this issue, however most geophysicists I suspect are not sufficiently trained in oceanic (ie large volumes of water) properties, so the answer may be more complex than just a downward displacement of the ocean floor, with the trough of the wave (corresponding to this downard displacement) arriving first. If this were the case drawdown should not be as common as it is, and also drawdown should not increase in frequency (and possibly relative magnitude or duration) with distance. (Several websites state that distal tsunamis are more commonly preceded by drawdown than proximal tsunamis). Further info\comment\correction contact¨:

Another comment on drawdown. I read on the net that so-called 'freak' or 'rogue' waves often exhibit what is called ´´a hole in the ocean´´ (ie a very significant trough preceding the large wave); this trough may be caused by the wave pulling water into it, but possibly also by a number of other properties of large volumes of water during mass water movement, eg surface tension, counter currents (the latter proposed to account for the development of many freak waves). It is stated on many web sites that the´'hole in the ocean phenomenon' is not yet udnerstood, but it may be similar to that of drawdown during tsunamis, at least in some cases. Roger McEvilly


Any video available?

The video in the past few days was made widely available through Wikipedia links posted on the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake website. This footage has profoundly changed our popular understanding of what a tsunami looks like. See my posting about 'phenomenology' below. -- Sandover 19:35, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)

tsunami waves are shallow water gravity waves

"A tsunami (from Japanese 津波 meaning wave in port or "harbour wave") is one or a series of ocean surface waves that can occur after a large earthquake" I think there is a problem with that statement. Tsunami occurs along the whole cross section of the ocean from the ocean bed to the surface unlike the wind propelled waves? Am i missing something here?

A tsunami definitely involves the entire cross section. BTW, I figured out the scaling behaviour of phase speed, particle speed, amplitude and wave length for a tsunami wave approaching the coast. See the German WP. -- Frau Holle 01:20, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Phenomenology - A new section to be developed

There is no real description of a tsunami (phenomenological explanation) in a human readable level on this page... The reader is immediately dumped into the physics of a tsunami -- which is a section that is dubious anyways -- before even being explained in normal english what a tsunami is all about. I think that an easier to read explanation of what a tsunami is, from where it begins, how it propagates, to how it ends should be added to the page. Maybe we can also provide an explanation along the lines of an example, e.g. move your legs around in your bath and see waves moving around. Update: looks better now than before --Anthony Liekens 15:18, 29 Dec 2004 (UTC)

From Sandover -- : If possible, the encyclopedia entry should include a vivid description of a tsunami, an acccount which resonates as closely as possible to a first-person beachside eye- and earwitness experience.

Of course the Wikipedia guidelines do not permit first-person constructions, so the entry would have to be accordingly couched: 'A person standing on the beach, witnessing the backdrift of the waters, might not notice...' Of the many horrifying fascinations of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake is the video, fairly copious amounts of it, collected in Phuket and Malaysia and Sri Lanka. The video show vividly how easily people can be taken by surprise by these things. Before the Dec 26 earthquake I had a very different mind's eye image of a tsunami, and the common misconceptions about tsunami help explain the relative naivete of many of the people filming that day. Had I been standing on the beach in Malaysia, for example, I would not have realized that the wave coming in from the ocean had no 'air' behind it. Our customary understanding of an ocean wave is not helpful. This is more like a shelf of water, and if you at or below its level and do not find higher shelter, you will almost certainly die.

Good vivid writing on Wikipedia might just trickle into the consciousness of this world and perhaps save a few lives one day. Many schoolchildren study and do reports on tsunami consulting this page (no doubt plagiarizing from it), and many others practice their English by reading it. They often convey the knowledge they find here to others. Weren't all the people on one beach in Thailand saved by a 10-year-old English girl who had just done a school report, and sounded concern upon seeing the retreating waters?

A POV description from those few who survived in Banda Aceh, who happened to be upstairs in their resilient two-story homes, would be useful to many. I live within a few hundred yards of the ocean in California, and am now very aware that a Banda Aceh-style tsunami wave, sporting a 10m height, would definitely knock me out of hearth and home quicker than I could run up what I would have thought before this was the nearest and safest hill. I've now plotted a new escape route, and had thoughtful conversations with my neighbors on the subject of seismic sea waves. Indeed, lessons from this tsunami will indeed one day save lives. Not least the lesson that the danger is not over after the first wave.

This Wikipedia entry has evolved beautifully since the December 26 disaster, and it has been a privilege to have participated in its evolution. We can make it something even better if we imagine a greater good. Sandover 19:35, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Formula for calculating the distance in land of tsunami of a certain heigh

Does anyone know or can anyone make a formula to do the most basic formula to calculate how far a tsunami's effects will travel inland based on the height of the waves upon hitting land? I think this would be a practical information that could be presented but I have yet to find a formula for it.

-- This is entirely determinant on the topography of the land. The wave will often go until the height of the land is equal to the height of the top of the wave. However there are some instances that they have traveled up river beds quite far. One instance was Hilo Hawaii, I think it went up about 5 miles.

Tidal waves

Why are tidal waves being used to define tsuinamis? Didn't they mentioned in the article and above that they were misnomers? Mandel 07:26, Dec 30, 2004 (UTC)

-- This is only because people do not know that the words are not used in the same way in current lingo.

-- Some people these days have no clue that the world around them has changed. Some words are being changed and so are the meanings of manners. Some words that were considered slang 10 years ago aren't slang anymore, just like a tidal wave has NOTHING to do with tsunamis. Get into the 21st century, guys! It's been 5 years already. You had a lot of time. -Sarah Jennifer

I don't think it's important what you call it. Tsunami, when you get right down to it, is just as much a misnomer as "tidal wave"; being in another language just hides the fact. A tsunami (Harbor Wave) has nothing to do with harbors any more than it does with tides. Were the Japanese word something like "ōnami" (Big Wave), that would be another matter, but as is ... what difference does it make which term you use? I tend to use both terms interchangeably myself, though I probably use "tsunami" more often. Nik42 00:51, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)
You might be surprised, but there are Japanese words that precisely means "tidal wave", so calling it a misnomer isn't correct. Tidal bore (another way to call tidal wave) is called Kaisho and Shiotsunami, lit. tide tsunami. ōnami is actually used to describe larger waves that one sees on a beach at an interval while smaller ones are called Konami(having nothing to do with the company name, Konami), lit. little wave. It's the same thing with Inuit and snow, the familiarity bleeds new words. -Revth 05:26, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Even so "harbor waves" have nothing to do with harbors, they hit non-harbors just as much as they hit harbors. Thus, it's just as (in)accurate as "Tidal wave". My point being, they're both arbitrary, based, presumably, on appearance (Fisherman returning to harbor to see devestation from a wave that seemingly formed in harbor in the one case, a wave that resembled an exagerated tide in the other). Thus, I see no superiority between the one or the other Nik42 08:40, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)
"Harbor waves" do on occasion strike harbors. "Tidal waves" are not caused by tides. While tsunami is not perfect, it contains a minor error of ommission instead of being completely wrong. -- Cyrius| 17:18, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I think you are misunderstanding the basic construction method of Japanese words as well as what a "Tsu" looks like or what it really means. "Tsunami" is not "harbor wave/s" anymore than Kindergarten is "garden of children". You would not point to a kid's playing ground and say, "Oh, there is a kindergarten!" and a Japanese would not point to a simple wave in a harbor and say "Oh, there is a tsunami!" except as a joke or a figure of speech. Literally, it may make sense but that's not how languages work. "Harbor wave" that simply means a "wave in a harbor" is "Minato no Nami" with "Minato" being another word for harbor, usually a man-made one, and not "Tsunami".
You should also have a look at a drawing from or a manga of old Japanese fables like "Urashima Taro" (or have a Japanese with some artistic skill draw one for you). A "harbor" (which was called "Tsu" at that time) appears in the storyline of "Urashima Taro" and it is nothing more than couple of boats grounded on a sandy beach. That's what a "Tsu" had been and it is not necessary a sheltered harbor that you probably had in mind.
You see, the translation is only partial and a completely descriptive translation may be "Tsu meaning any naturally formed place where one can or may have used as a harbor, an ancient term, used for anyplace beside a body of water including lake and river, likely to have included sandbank and shallow in the past, and semi-archaic". Revth 02:14, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Still, I think enough people here are in the opinion that "tsunami" and "tidal wave" are synonyms, that they ought to be treated as such. Se for example this BBC article. The article mentioning this use of "tidal wave" as "discouraged" is not fair. And frankly, I don't understand why some people get so worked up and aggresive about this. It's not such a critical question, is it? -Himasaram 20:27, 1 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Tsunamis and the shadow side of land masses

In the "characteristics" section of the tsunami article, it states: "Tsunamis propagate outward from their source, so coasts in the "shadow" of affected land masses are fairly safe." Yet both Kerala (in India) and the Colombo-Galle train line (in Sri Lanka) were heavily affected by the tsunami, and both are on the "shadow sides" of their respective land masses.

1. Does this mean that the statement about "shadow" areas is untrue?

2. What is the mechanism by which a tsunami would affect the shadow side of a land mass?

1. "Fairly safe" means just that... fairly safe, not 100% safe all the time.
2. Waves can diffract around a land mass. To see this, first click on Kerala to see where it's located, then click on the complete animation of the tsunami waves to see how the waves swept around and hit Kerala. Warning, it's about 1 MB, so it might be a bit slow to load if you're using dial-up. -- Curps 09:30, 31 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Most destructive tsunami in history?

It's being claimed that the current Indian ocean tsunami is the most destructive in history. It seems like this is true, but I was wondering if anyone can confirm the existence of a 1703 tsunami that hit Awa, Japan and also caused over 100,000 dead? There are a couple references to this in Google, see e.g. [2] but it doesn't seem to be mentioned at all on WP and on some other sources. Terry 20:42, 31 Dec 2004 (UTC) What about the one in Alaska in the 50's? That was huge. I'm not sure, though, if the damage was as big as the wave was.

Why not just use the term 'modern history' - that would sort of solve the problem of not knowing much about the really old trsunamis. Egil 23:25, 4 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Where did the links and refs go???

Why were the links and refs taken out should they be put back?

Sometimes people vandalize articles, or inadvertently delete material due to editing problems or carelessness. The links and refs are back (you can find old versions in the "history" link). -- Curps 23:16, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I've been cutting back on the galloping links list, removing current-affairs links, web directories, tabloid horror-stories etc Dan100 23:22, Jan 4, 2005 (UTC)

What is the economic effect of a Tsunami?

That'd depend on where it hits and how big it is. -- Cyrius| 17:22, 5 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Typically undersea earthquakes give rise to...

I've been removing "Typically undersea earthquakes give rise to between 3 and 5 distinct waves (crests), the second or third of which are usually the largest" with no explanation, sorry. The reason why I'm removing it 'is because tsunamis can be caused be a number of different phenomena, not just earthquakes. Is 3 to 5 waves normal for all tsunamis or just ones caused by quakes? Plus, is it always three to five? Never more or less? Finally, it's explained in the introduction than tsunamis are a series of waves, so this is duplication. Dan100 23:23, Jan 4, 2005 (UTC)

I did not write the numbers 3-5, but from what I have heard this is very plausible and obviously much more informative than just "a series", that could be anything. I do not know whether for different phenomena these numbers are different. Whoever knows this can either generalize the sentence or add other figures for those. It says "typically", so it is not necessarily always three to five. I have also heard from several sources that the 2nd is often larger than the first.--Patrick 23:50, Jan 4, 2005 (UTC)

I just think that, without any source for verification, three to five is highly unlikely. Why not two to four? Three to seven? Three to five just seems so arbitary. And if 'typically' makes the statement mean 'not necessarily always three to five', then why say it all? You also didn't answer my point regarding the cause - why 'earthquake'? There are many different causes of tsunamis, do all causes lead to three to five ocean waves? Wikipedia deals in verified facts, not conjecture or hypothesis. Please, find sources to back up this statement. Dan100 21:24, Jan 6, 2005 (UTC)

If nobody can give further information/confirmation we can also use the looser formulation "several, but not many".--Patrick 23:39, Jan 6, 2005 (UTC)

Tsunamis are only created by very large quakes (like mag 7 or larger, however they are caused by events other than quakes too ) and most of the largest quakes are caused by plate subduction. To have a megathrust or subduction zone earthquake you almost have to have a heavy ocean plate subducting beneath a lighter continental crust. The location of the interface of the two plates usually puts the fault just off the coast of the continent.



Whether tsunami = tidal wave is a valid question, but first things first: why does the page have it pronounced "s[mung]-N[mung]-[mung]i"???? Even if half the letters weren't munged, it looks more like "so-NO-mi" at best!

The pronunciation is "tsoo-NAH-mee", reflecting the original. I have heard a few illiterate slobs drop the T, but it is giving them far too much credit to say "often pronounced as...". Sure, lots of words are often mispronounced; you don't need to start making excuses for them! What next, Mao Se-Tung and the African Se-Se Fly????

Many people can't say tsunami! That's why there's a 'ad hoc' guide to pronounciation in the article. Please leave it! Dan100 23:32, Jan 4, 2005 (UTC)

If a pronunciation guide is needed, please use IPA as per WP policy. Ad-hoc pronunciations are meaningless and self-referential, as has been discussed ad nauseam elsewhere. If you are not aware of these discussions, then it might be a good idea to bring yourself up to speed before an edit war, or at least a minor skirmish, ensues. Graham 00:03, 5 Jan 2005 (UTC)
This word is Japanese. So the proper pronunciation should be in Japanese. The deleted ad-hoc pronunciation was just the CNN's or American pronunciation. It was just as wrong as how Americans pronounce Toyota or Karaoke or sake or Tokyo. Either put the right one there or not at all. The removal of the bad pronunciation was appropriate. Kowloonese 00:29, Jan 5, 2005 (UTC)
I agree 100%. A compromise - see what you think of what I put there just now. Graham 00:37, 5 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Most people can't read IPA. I can't. I even have problems with the font sometimesMy system can't even output the symbols. I thought the goal of Wikipedia was to be useful and accessible. I guess I was wrong. Nelson Ricardo 01:29, Jan 5, 2005 (UTC)
The goal of WP is to be useful and accessible. If you can't read IPA, try the useful and accessible article about it. If you can't output the symbols, that's a shame, but maybe you could try a more modern browser. The point is that ad-hoc pronunciations are in themselves not useful - but this isn't the place to rehash these arguments, which have been done to death elsewhere, but in a nutshell it comes down to this: ad-hoc is self-referential and unscientific, lacks any proper phonetic foundation, and tends to assume and promote an American accent, whereas IPA is a scientifically developed system that is language and value-neutral. If it takes a little more effort to make use of it, that is to my mind a small price to pay to eliminate the ambiguity and lack of a proper foundation that ad-hoc suffers from. Sometimes worthwhile things just need a little more effort. Graham 01:49, 5 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Dear user, please DO NOT replace IPA with American pronounciation until and unless you have convinced the Wiki majority to support your decision to abandon a scientifically accepted, proper pronounciation system with your American pronounciation system - Anon/NE 17:18 5th Jan (UTC)

  • Come on now. Wikipedia is indeed first and foremost designed to be accesible to anyone. IPA is meaningless to the vast majority of readers. I'd also like to see where Wikipedia states that IPA must be used. And tsunami is indeed pronouned 'soo-NAH-mee'. It might have originally been a Japanese word, but it is now a term used by science to describe waves of this type. The language of science is English, and in English tsunami is pronounced exactly as above. Dan100 21:29, Jan 6, 2005 (UTC)

Your point on WP is entirely correct, but you need to spell it "tsoo-NAH-mee". Unless someone is suffering a cleft palate, there is no difficulty saying "ts". See my above comment about Tse-Tung and Tse-Tse.

As for Grahams "modern browser" comment. I have IE7, and I can easily read Japanese, Thai, Arabic, Russian, Greek, etc. in it. I dunno what mystery characters are supposed to be in those munged boxes tho....

BTW, the mispronunciation of Toyoda as "Toyota" was done long before it reached the US. The founder intentionally tweaked his surname to be cute. The city later was named after the company and thus carries that odd "t". The few other towns sharing this name all pronounce their own as "Toyoda".

I'm with you on "karaoke" and "sake", tho. "Tokyo" is kind of a line call; suggest you go with "Nagoya" or "Yokosuka" instead.

So how do you pronounce "soo"? Maybe like a drawled 'so'?, as a German speaker would? - making it sound like 'saw'. How about "nah", is that like the noise horses make? "mee" - a French speaker would rhyme this with "hay". If you read the page at International Phonetic Alphabet, you'll see that it states: "Currently, IPA is the preferred phonetic alphabet for representing pronunciations of words on Wikipedia." This has been the subject of discussions, often very lengthy, going back at least two years to my knowledge. One such discussion can be found here: Wikipedia talk:Pronunciation (simple guide to markup, American); there are many others. Digging them up is not so easy, and perhaps it would be simpler if this were simply stated somewhere on the policy pages - in fact I'll see if I can put that in place, if it hasn't been done already. You may find ad hoc pronunciation useful, that's because you already speak English. I don't know of any linguistics people who give it any credence - rather than simply attempt to impose your own pet linguistics theories on WP, it might be better to go over what has been discussed already first, then at least you'll be able to ADD to what's been discussed rather than simply rehash it, which is what you're unwittingly doing at the moment. Graham 21:55, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Being an English word, the English pronounciation of 'soo-NAH-me' would be used. Dan100 22:33, Jan 6, 2005 (UTC)
Further, what does the manner of pronouciation a German or French speaker matter? I am sure they are reading and editing their own language versions of wikipedia. This is, after all, the English Wikipedia. Dan100 22:47, Jan 6, 2005 (UTC)
So, first you assume people don't know how to pronounce the common word 'Tsunami' (and you've had to have been living on another planet not to have heard it spoken countless times on radio and TV in the last two weeks), then you assume that French and German speakers will never read the English WP, and further that all speakers of English have the same accent, spelling conventions and level of literacy that you do. Don't you think you're assuming rather a lot? A better idea is to to minimise assumptions, and that's where IPA is streets ahead - it assumes nothing other than that you are a human being with a normally formed and functional throat, lungs and vocal cords. If aliens happen to be reading WP, then we might need to look at a more extended system.
"Being an English word, the English pronounciation of 'soo-NAH-me' would be used" - what is an English word? 'Tsunami' is actually from Japanese; "soo-nah-mee" is not an English word - it is not listed in any English dictionary as a word at all. Graham 23:06, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Graham, that last statement is so blatently wrong. I know for a fact that it is in Merriam-Webster. I'm sure M-W is not alone. English borrows words from many languages. Nelson Ricardo 23:36, Jan 6, 2005 (UTC)
I think you misundertood - let me clarify. 'Tsunami' is in the dictionary; 'soo-nah-mee' isn't. Because 'soo-nah-mee' isn't a word.Graham 00:33, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)

What, you think a German or French or 'illiterate' readers will understand IPA?! And as I have explained ad-nauseum, tsunami was Japanese, but has now been adopted by the scientific community, is pronounced as if it were English, and the English pronounciation is... Dan100 07:10, Jan 7, 2005 (UTC)

If you listen to BBC News online (see and click on the audio links) or listen to Canadian news, you hear both "sunami" and "tsunami" (with the T pronounced). Various dictionaries show that both pronunciations are correct (actually, my Random House dictionary only shows the pronunciation with T). So both valid pronunciations should be shown. -- Curps 04:36, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)

But how? IPA or phonetically? Dan100 07:10, Jan 7, 2005 (UTC)

Why can't we just include both pronunciations. In Australia everybody says /tsu:na:mi/. Our national dictionary lists only this pronunciation. In the American dictionaries I've looked at I've seen (the equivalent of) /su:na:mi/ which is fine. Some people/populations can pronounce initial "ts" and some cannot. Let's just be one big happy family ok? (-;

There's a few things I don't understand though. Right now the only pronunciation in the article includes a "hooked m" - what is this in English? It is in square brackets whereas phonemic transcriptions (broad transcriptions) ought to use /slashes/. Dictionaries exclusively use phonemic transcriptions. Phonetic (narrow) transcriptions are the realm of linguists. Finally, some good modern dictionaries are now differentiating three symbols for "i": /i:/, /I/, and /i/ to represent the sounds in "heap", "hip" and "happy" respectively. The reasoning is that different people/populatinos pronounced final -y/-i differently. There is a whole range between /I/ and /i:/.

The other problem with IPA (and the SAMPAs) is that it's just an alphabet - it doesn't dictate spelling. There are many different traditions of spelling pronunciations of English in IPA. The biggest divide is between British (or Commonwealth) use and American use. The vast majority of British and European dictionares (especially translating dictionaries) use a British-style IPA spelling. Most American dictionares use an ad-hoc pronunciation system, not IPA. Within the American linguistics community, the IPA spelling seems pretty standard - but "normal people" are unfamiliar with it, unlinke Europeans/Commonwealth people, who are pretty comfortable with it.

This is how I have spelled the pronunciation for Wiktionary where pronunciations are contributed in many varying ways. The three most common are a generic "American dictionary style" system which is sometimes labeled "AHD" even though it is not exactly AHD's system, A Commonwealth-ish IPA which uses parentheses to show optional phonemes which would depend on dialect/accent, and a SAMPAisation of the IPA:

  • tso͞o-nä'mi, /tsuːˈnɑːmi/, /tsu:nA:mi/
  • so͞o-nä'mi, /suːˈnɑːmi/, /su:nA:mi/

You'll notice that the special Unicode "American dictionary" symbols have even more rendering problems than the IPA characters! But on Wiktionary we've decided to encode what's right and let the OSes/browsers catch up. — Hippietrail 02:23, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The square brackets is an error - mine I think. I've changed it. The linked article explains the hooked 'm'; it may be that the other m could be a better choice. The pronunciation with the non-silent initial 't' could well be added as an alternative (using IPA of course). As for spelling, I think the comment is a red herring. The spelling follows directly from the order of the phonemes uttered - since each IPA symbol can represent exactly one phoneme, and any spoken word is a sequence of phonemes, then the order of the IPA symbols (its 'spelling') follows naturally. Alternative spellings only exist because of the variation in pronunciation, with accent, etc. Usually the one used in WP is"standard" British or American English, or whatever is most common - obviously it would be impractical to indicate every possible accent variation. Graham 04:01, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Many people expect the IPA alphabet specifically lays down exactly one way that it can be used with each language - I expected that myself. In reality it's a lot looser than that, especially for phonemic transcriptions. All you need to do is look at a bunch of dictionaries from different publishers for the same language. Your arguments are neat and logical but they just don't reflect the reality of the IPA. Anyway it's beyond the scope of this article. Hopefully somebody goes into it over at IPA or phonetics or somewhere. I have an Excel file I was maintaining for a while showing variations used in various places. — Hippietrail 09:14, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)

1964 Alaska Earthquake/Tsunami

The stats for the Alaska tsunami seem to be incorrect. This webpage indicates that there were waves as high as 67 meters that hit Shoup Bay Alaska. A 19 meter wave hit Narrow Cape Alaska. The WP article indicates the waves only reached 6 meters in height, which according to the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center is definitely incorrect.

Then change it. Dan100 22:35, Jan 6, 2005 (UTC)


Why no mention in the talk? Nelson Ricardo 11:58, Jan 7, 2005 (UTC)

Tsunami measured by satellite

A satellite measured the tsunami in the Bay of Bengal. The wavelength was 500 to 800 km and the amplitude was 50 cm. -phma 12:06, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Thanks for that, good catch. The place for the info is the 2004 IOe page, mind you. This page is about all/any tsunamis. Dan100 17:01, Jan 7, 2005 (UTC)
I'd say the information also belongs here, as it is a milestone in tsunami observation. -- Cyrius| 17:29, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Effect of topology of ocean bed and bank

"scientists said it was plausible that the island escaped harm because of two protective features: the sturdy ring of coral reefs surrounding it and the extremely deep Chagos Trench just to the east, which may have disrupted some of the wave forms as they approached the island." [3] Sometimes last week, i entered a paragraph of how the ocean floor topology and the ocean banks affect the intensity of tsunami damage. It has since been removed and i don't feel it is appropriate to force it back without concession. Basically, the link above is a good summary of what i had entered. I also read somewhere (slashdot) that ocean floor that have mountains tend to stop tsunami before it hits the dry land. In my opinion, i felt like that was important information and should get somewhere in the article. The article is far better now. I do remember the first time i came across it, tsunami was described as surface wave, which was really way off

Great Wave off Kanagawa

I will admit that I don't know much about tsunami, but given the definition: "it simply has a much smaller amplitude (wave heights) offshore, and a very long wavelength (often hundreds of kilometers long)", is Hokusai's Great Wave off Kanagawa really a tsunami? It seems more like "the sort of cresting waves that are formed by wind action upon the ocean (with which people are more familiar)". Maybe this is just hair-splitting, but it seems to me that there is the danger of confusing tsunami with any kind of "big wave" if we have this picture on the tsunami article page. CES 17:17, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Don't worry about it for now. I'm trying to get permission to use some much more impressive pictures of the tsunami hitting Thailand - I'll let you know how it turns out. -- ChrisO 16:21, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Keep in mind that it's a famous 180 year old piece of art, not a modern technical diagram. I think it serves well as an introductory image. -- Cyrius| 18:42, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Once there is a better lead image for this article, this Hokusai woodcut could be placed down in the history section. It will still be a red herring for anyone who wants accurate information about these waves. If Hokusai were painting a tsunami, he did not have an accurate concept of it as a shelf of water and a higher sea level coming in. In fact, his woodcut illustrates a common misconsception about tsunami, that there is 'air' behind the wave which softens the impact of the wave. I believe this was probably the last misconception many people had who were overtaken by it. It would almost certainly have tricked me. Sandover 19:52, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Why keep the print at all? It's a print mostly about Mt. Fuji, definitely not tsunamis. Well, not that I'm a Hokusai expert or anything, but I have seen a similar view of Mt. Fuji over the waves from Kamakura, Kanagawa. -- Oarih 20:45, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Hopefully someone will come up with a better picture. I think part of the problem is the somewhat ambiguous translation of the woodblock's title ... Hokusai calls it an okinami (沖波), not a tsunami (津波). I did not want it to seem like I was splitting hairs, my point was just that it seems like the picture for the tsunami article should be of ... a tsunami! =) CES 00:45, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)
It's a wonderful picture, but I really don't think it belongs here. Illustrating Tsunami with something which is not a tsunami, but which matches popular misconceptions of one, is rather unhelpful. Mark1 05:16, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Yes, it doesn't help that it's translated as "great wave" when okinami just means a wave that crests offshore. In any case, the illustration is a part of Hokusai's 36 views of Mt. Fuji -- if he had wanted to make a print about a tsunami, then I'm sure the tsunami would have been the subject of the print and it would not have merely appeared as an aside (labelled as an offshore wave) in his Mt. Fuji series. IMO, the sooner the image is replaced with something else the better. -- Oarih 05:44, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)
For the moment I've moved the Male pic up (it didn't seem to have any particular relevance to the section it was in anyway). The Swedish mother [4] picture would be good, but I'm too paranoid about copyright to put it in. Mark1 06:15, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Hokusai's print was simply an overdramatization of a offshore wave (=Okinami) and nothing more. He had made a surrealistic print just to show that waves are much larger at Kanagawa than in the sheltered Edo (or Tokyo) harbor where he lived. Many artists does this kind of things too, see Napoleon I of France riding on a horse. In reality, he would not be pointing while the horse is acting up. Revth 02:25, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I note that the caption does not call it a tsunami, and in fact

I have added a picture from sv:Wikipedia of the 2004 tsunami striking Thailand to commons, if you are interrested.
Link: image:2004-tsunami.jpg
Salleman 18:14, 5 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Article commended by media

From yesterday's Observer newspaper (,6903,1386027,00.html):

Try looking up tsunami in the online edition of Britannica ( and then in Wikipedia. While you're at it, note the extensive entry the latter has for the recent disaster and compare it with the video provided by Britannica of the tsunami that devastated Hawaii - in 1946.

Good work, everybody! -- ChrisO 16:21, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)


Hello all, I'm very impressed with this article... but I have to ask: why is there only one reference to a SMH article about a specific event? This article must have had more information gathered from elsewhere. - Ta bu shi da yu 00:14, 13 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Plural of tsunami is tsunami?

Lived in Japan for ten years and "tsunamis" is not a word and irritating to boot. Tsunami are like sheep. I have 10 sheep and there were 10 tsunami. Revmachine21 05:21, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Please see rules for use of foreign words in English Revmachine21 05:25, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)
The link instructs to "check a dictionary." I checked your link and a dictionary. Sorry, it's "tsunamis" (pl.) in English. Zosodada 06:15, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Japanese language rules are not relevant. The English plural is "tsunamis", just like the French plural for cameraman is cameramans. The borrowing language need not concern itself with the plural-formation rules of the source language. Historically, there was an exception for Latin because Latin was very widely taught in schools until the middle of the last century, but even this no longer holds in many cases. English borrows words so widely and so readily from other languages that it would be utterly impractical to remember special plural-formation rules on a case by case basis for every single word. -- Curps 05:29, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I don't make the rules for proper English grammar, I just expect that they be followed. Again, refer to the rules of English's foreign word usage. Revmachine21 05:30, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)

You can't be serious. What's next? Should the English plural of "sheik" be "shuyukh" (sp?) because that is the plural in Arabic? Should every English speaker memorize dozens of exotic plurals on a case-by-case basis for every single word with a foreign-language etymology?

Words, once borrowed into English, use English plurals (Latin is an exception for historical reasons). Other languages do the same when they borrow words from English (eg, French cameramans). -- Curps 05:37, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The word has entered English and takes English plural. From n. pl. tsu·na·mis. It's even got an adjective, tsunamic, which sure isn't Japanese. RickK 05:39, Jan 14, 2005 (UTC)

Some other words of Japanese origin take English plurals as well: "futons" and "tycoons". -- Curps 06:03, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I agree that "tsunamis" sounds wrong - but so do carryohkie (karaoke) and a lot of other loan words. What can we do about the horrible vernacular of the unwashed masses? Shouganai. As an example of a Japanese loan word that is not pluralised using the 's' affix in English, I suppose "sushi" is both singular and plural (though I also hear people say "sushis" - shudder). I think a case could be made for the plural of tsunami being either tsunami or tsunamis, but since I also live in Japan, I imagine my view of things is a bit skewed. -- Oarih 07:31, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Sushi is an uncountable noun, so has no plural: you eat a little sushi, not a few sushis. Mark1 07:40, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Not in Japanese, it isn't (unless I've been speaking wrong all this time); sushi nigiri are discrete and very much countable. In Japan you say "I ate ten pieces of sushi" (well, or just as often "I ate five plates of sushi") much the same was one would say "I ate five cookies" in English. I think that tsunami should probably follow the same rule in English at typhoon, though, which would be to pluralise with an s, I guess. -- Oarih 07:58, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Japanese does not have a distinction between countable and uncountable nouns. English does. Sushi, in English, is an uncountable noun. And the plural of tsunami is tsunamis. Mark1 08:31, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Uh, it's tycoon that's borrowed from Japanese. As for typhoon, it seems to have mixed Greek and Chinese etymology. A fine dilemma... which language's rules would be used to form its plural? -- Curps 09:06, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)
English's! Mark1 09:14, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)
That's interesting about typhoon. Since typhoon is tai-fuu in Japanese, I just assumed that the etymology was Japanese. Tai-fuu still seems closer than the Chinese tai-feng or the Greek Typhon, but I'm no expert on the subject. I agree about sushi - my point wasn't that it should be written sushis, but that it's an example of a Japanese noun which is not considered to be a countable noun, as you say, in English. -- Oarih 09:27, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)
By the way, I just looked it up on and tycoon is a pretty irregular example of an English word that came from Japanese; "大君" is not commonly used in Japan, and was borrowed from the Chinese primarily to fool foreigners into thinking that the Shogun was the head of state [5]. (I think it's time to edit the tycoon article...) -- Oarih 10:06, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Once a word is borrowed into a foreign language, that language can abuse it however it wishes. And it's irrelevant if the result sounds barbaric to speakers of the original language. English words suffer the same fate when they leave home. The English word "sweat" has been borrowed into European French as sweat, but it means "sweatshirt" and it's pronounced "sweet" (!) Go tell them how silly they are, and they will just ignore you. -- Curps 08:55, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Um, for all you out their thinking pluralized Tsunami is 'tsunamis' according to Wikipedia, plural Japanese loan words DO NOT carry an 's'. Seems pretty silly if we don't follow wiki's own information in this matter. See reference: Revmachine21 09:49, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Revmachine, your earlier citation to support your argument instructed to cite a dictionary. We have. This citation from Wikipedia notes "...kimonos, following the French model, is now generally accepted in English." Acceptance is dependent on historic precedent. "Samurai" is accepted as plural due to innumerable previous useages of such, i.e. Kurosawa's film "Seven Samurai" -- "tsunami" (pl.) has no precedent. Please cite several commercial or academic articles that have implemented the use this form to support your argument and I may concede on this. I find none.Zosodada 16:06, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Hmmm...I'm not sure anyone claimed that Wikipedia itself prescribed any course of action. However, the first two sentences of the section to which you refer state "Because English includes words from so many ancestral languages, as well as many loanwords from Classical Greek and Latin and other modern languages, there are many other forms of plurals. Such nouns often retain their original plurals, at least for some time after they are introduced" (emphasis mine). In this case it appears quite clear that tsunami has not retained its original plural. — Knowledge Seeker দ (talk) 10:00, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)

It seems that just about everyone uses "tsunamis" as the plural:

The USGS itself uses "tsunamis", eg at [6] and [7] as does the NOAA at [8] and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center at [9] and ITIC (International Tsunami Information Center) at [10].

Even Japanese writing in English seem to use "tsunamis", including Kenji Satake who made some of the wave animations [11] and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) which is the government agency in charge of tsunami research: [12]

You can see more such results by looking in Google for "tsunamis" in .jp websites: Google search. -- Curps 09:49, 15 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The major English-language Japan Times newspaper has a tsunami story today, and sure enough, they use "tsunamis" too: [13] -- Curps 09:49, 15 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The plural of tsunami really is a matter of personal preference. Based on what I've read on this discussion page, it appears that tsunamis is more popular here. But I'd like to point out that tsunami as a plural form is not wrong. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary lists both "tsunamis" and "tsunami" as plural. Wang123 03:55, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)

It's best to be consistent within an article. -- Cyrius| 23:48, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I don't think "tsunamis" is more popular only here... I believe its's more widely used by oceanographers and English-language news media (including English-language media in Japan and Japanese oceanographers writing in English), and I cited some sources to this effect. -- Curps 01:36, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)

"Tsunami" is wrong, "Tunami" is right

I ask everyone not to use the invalid spelling "Tsunami".

"Tsunami" is the result of the invalid system of Romanisation of Japanese, called the Hepburn system. This system is an English-biased one which does not correspond to the phonemic structure of Japanese; every Japanese linguist rejects it.

Despite the unanimous rejection from Japanese linguists, this invalid system survived by the US Occupation forces since this system was supposedly easier for uneducated US soldiers. But, this system is not easier for English speakers, because it makes Japanese grammer (particularly conjugation) far more complicated.

The word must be written "tunami" (linguistically correct). Everton 23:10, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not a soapbox. You go convince the English-speaking oceanographic and geophysical community that it should be "tunami", and we'll move the article. -- Cyrius| 23:36, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Assuming you're correct, what do Japanese linguists have to do with English? Outside of the Academy Francais, what is "linguistically correct" supposed to mean when applied to the use of loan words? As Cyrius says, if you want to change the spelling to tunami, than you'd better get busy convincing the English-speaking public at large to spell it that way. And when you've succeeded, they'll call it a "toonami". -- Oarih 01:10, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC) (BTW, IMO Hepburn is MUCH easier for English speakers and anyone wanting to learn Japanese ought to be doing so using kana anyway)
You mean Toonami? : ) -- Cyrius| 05:21, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Tsunami is a word in English, and not one single English dictionary shows an entry for "tunami". That is all. -- Curps 01:17, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)
There is no "tu" phoneme in the Japanese syllabaries. Simple as that. Check Hiragana and Katakana. How do you explain that? Sure you can go all "OMG it's the Hepburn that's wrong", but the sound is indeed "tsu", and not "tu"/"tooh". Sorry, I can't find any validity on your argument. And nevertheless, in the end, it won't matter, since grammatically correct or not, this is the word used worldwide. It makes no real sense to try fixing things now. The name for the phenomenon is "tsunami".--Kaonashi 02:14, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Actually, there *is* a "tu" PHONEME. It's in the allophonic level that [tu] is missing, as /t/ becomes /ts/ before the vowel /u/.. At any rate, Hepburn is the standard, whether good or bad (I can see arguments myself for both sides, and, in fact, slightly favor the alternate system for Japanese itself, but that's neither here nor there), for Japanese loans. It'd be far too much trouble to try to get the rest of the world to rewrite probably more than half of their Japanese loan words. Are we to write Ninzya, Hirosima, Iou Zima (Or Iō Zima), Toukyou (or Tōkyō), Mt. Huzi, etc.? You think English-speakers butcher Japanese pronunciations now, just imagine how they'd butcher those!
Also, Heburn long predated World War II, so I'm not sure what the Occupation Authority has to do with anything. (And Hepburn doesn't make Japanese grammer much more complicated. It's only a minor matter to remember to turn ts into t or ch.) Nik42 02:27, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)
In Japanese word processing programs, keying either "tu" or "tsu" will result in the same kana. The same with "ti" and "chi". The Japanese that I've talked to about it don't even see it as an issue, while foreigners find the fact that the pronunciation of the "t" series of syllables is unpredictable (ta chi tsu te to) to be mindboggling. For English, I still can't figure out why, if the plural of "goose" is "geese", the plural of "moose" is not "meese", but I'm not about to start a campaign to change this blatant inconsistency. Anyway, it's a non-issue from the standpoint of Japanese grammar, and if every English borrow word spelling was forced to be written according to the original language, half the English language would change. Does anyone actually want to revert to the original French spelling for beef or Arabic for algebra? - BanyanTree 02:52, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Who gives a flying fig newton what the word is in Japanese. Have you seen what that country does to words like baseball? Should we insist that the Japanese pronounce it as we do and not beisaboru or whatever awful twisting they give it? Nelson Ricardo 03:10, Jan 18, 2005 (UTC)

Let's make it "Twonami" -- plural! Zosodada 07:40, 20 Jan 2005 (UTC) (just kidding)
At thee saym tiym az we korekt thee prononsiashun and speling ov Japaneese lown werdz tu (or /tsu/) ther fonetiklee korekt form, kan we also korekt thee speling ov "Everton" to its korekt British prononsiashun "Eva`ton" or "Eva`tun"? We kan also moove thee artikal [[User:Everton]] to [[Yoo`za:Eva`ton]] at thee saym tiym.
(apologies, I couldn't resist. The point makes sense, but like a lot of things with historic origins, we have to deal with Englsih as it is, inclusive of inconsistencies and inhereted flaws, not as we would have liked it to be. FT2 17:13, Jan 21, 2005 (UTC))

tsunami wave?

Am I the only one that finds this usage weird? It's redundant. It's like saying "tidal wave wave". A tsunami is a wave, although an unusually deep wave when it is in the open ocean. Most of the time the phrase "surface wave of the tsunami" should probably be substituted for "tsunami wave". BlankVerse 17:24, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Oh my god, everybody run! The surface wave of a tsunami is coming!
I agree that has a nicer ring to it (-; — Hippietrail 23:28, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Earliest Usenet uses via Google Groups:
  • tsunami waves: soc.culture.greek - Feb 1 1992, 7:47 pm by Zaphiris Christidis
    The explosion produced tsunami waves wiping out most of the establishments, while poisonous gases killed numerous inhabi­tants.
  • tsunami wave: ca.earthquakes - Apr 30 1992, 5:03 pm by Andy Michael USGS Guest
    Another warning sign of impending tsunami wave is the wit­hdrawing of water from harbors and beaches.
Google News only allows search by date from 1 Jan 2005:
  • Tsunami waves: Business Line, India - Dec 29, 2004
    Over sixty aftershocks, including nine yesterday, have rocked the region since the devastating earthquake off Indonesia coast on Sunday set off killer Tsunami waves which unleashed one of the worst natural disasters claiming thousands of lives in South and South East Asia.
  • tsunami waves: Kansas City infoZine, MO - Jan 14, 2005
    Northern parts of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and particularly the province of Aceh, suffered severe damage following an earthquake and series of tsunami waves on December 26, 2004.
  • Google Groups total: 878
  • Google News total: 6,850
  • Google Web total: 287,000
Now that people have been corrected to use "tsunami", they seem to be using it to refer to the entire event rather than just the wave. Good luck correcting the public this time. — Hippietrail 23:37, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Yes, "tsunami waves" is perfectly correct in English. The Japanese etymology is irrelevant. The word "tsunami" refers to the entire phenomenon, of which waves are a major part. This is no different than referring to "earthquake ground-shaking", as the USGS does among others [14].

This happens even with terms of purely English origin. We refer to the "HIV virus", not the "HI virus" or "The HIV". Similarly, PIN number and ATM machine.

-- Curps 02:28, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)

You will notice that all examples you listed are acronyms; this rule only applies to acronyms.


The tsunami article has got a lot of vandals. Just to let you know. Trying to get rid of them.

--Relaxation 17:45, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Changes by anonymous editor

See this edit: [15]. This anonymous editor wrote some interesting material, expressed in language more readily understood by laypersons, but I reverted because a lot of material was also summarily deleted without explanation. Can someone knowledgeable look into this and perhaps merge the anonymous editor's paragraphs into the article? -- Curps 10:50, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Hokusai revisited

I appreciate the attempt to find a relevance for the Hokusai picture, but I'm not really convinced by the current caption. Do we have a source for the claim that "Many people have died because of the common misconception that tsunami behave like wind-driven waves or swells"? I would have thought that by the time your life is in danger it's too late for your conceptions of the wave's attributes to help or hinder you. Also the picture doesn't help us to understand what the waves are really like: I'd much rather see a picture (or more feasibly a diagram) of that. Mark1 03:09, 25 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I added the caption because the Hokusai kept reappearing in the tsunami article, and I was always troubled by it. So it definitely needs an explanatory caption if it's going to be here. The source for my "many people died" statement is, in fact, an inference drawn from the large number of amateur videotapes I saw after the Dec 26th tsunami. A few of those videotapes have comments (not always in English) from the people filming them clearly indicating they are looking at the edge of a breaking wave, not a shelf of water coming at them. (It seemed to me that not a few of these amateur videotapes were taken by people who barely escaped with their own lives, and clearly thought they were above or beyond danger while they were filming and before the wave hit...again, their own misconceptions at work.) I read accounts from survivors who were calmly filming until they were overwhelmed and dropped their cameras. Many print articles confirm this notion that people didn't realize the danger they were in until too late. Sandover 17:12, 25 Feb 2005 (UTC)

As a point of comparison, you might wish to have a look at this series of images taken by a Canadian couple who were killed by the tsunami (the pictures were retrieved posthumously from their camera's memory card). The fifth picture clearly shows the tsunami as a breaking wave piling up on rocks on the shoreline. Other people's images and VT shows it as an oncoming tide, without a very pronounced wave. I suspect the difference is due to local conditions - the tsunami would pile up into large waves on a rocky shore, while on a smooth shoreline it would simply roll up the beach. -- ChrisO 17:46, 25 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Does anyone know if the title of Hokusai, which includes the phrase "great wave", corresponds to the kanji for "harbour wave"?
The picture has two pieces of Japanese writing. There is a box with print-style writing which I was able to find on the Japanese Wikipedia. The cursive-style writing outside the box I am unable to read.
The writing in the box says "冨嶽三十六景 神奈川沖浪裏", which Babelfish translates as "冨 嶽 36 scene Kanagawa open sea 浪 reverse sides" - not very helpful. Here's a breakdown of the characters thanks to Wiktionary, Wikipedia, and some luck:
冨嶽 summit of Mount Fuji
三十六 36
景 scenery, view; conditions
神奈川 Kanagawa
沖 pour, infuse, steep; wash away
浪 wave; wasteful, reckless
裏 inside, interior, within
The final two characters seem to be a compound but it is not in Jim Breen's dictionary. I'm also not sure how the 3rd-last character fits in yet. — Hippietrail 02:53, 26 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Well. The title of the series is "36 View of Mt Fuji", although there are actually 46 (10 were added to the series later.) The title of the particular picture is "In The Hollow of a Wave off the Coast at Kanagawa". So it looks to me like the Kanji in the box is the title of the piece. The cursive is, I think, is Hokusai's signature; at least, another reference (on an Israeli print, of all things) says "Signature: Hokusai aratame Itsu hitsu". I imagine one of our Japanese editors will come along and advise better. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 03:21, 26 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • 浪 is another way to write "wave" (today written commonly as 波) ... the title refers to an okinami (沖波) which translates as offshore wave (oki means "offing" or "off shore" ... not "pour" ... are you thinking of 注ぐ?) and is distinct from a tsunami (津波). CES 16:33, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)
    • Back again- perhaps starting a discussion and then going on holiday was unwise. ;) The "many people have died" part seems to me just our own speculation as to what was going through the minds of people who died, the availability of possible escape routes, and so on. (Actually I'd argue that since a tsunami coming at you looks just like a big ordinary wave coming at you, assuming that you aren't going to die would probably be caused by not realising it was a tsunami, rather than by misunderstanding the properties of a tsunami). I suggest:

There is a common misconception that tsunamis behave like wind-driven waves or swells (with air behind them, as in this celebrated 19th century woodcut by Hokusai). In fact, a tsunami is better understood as a new and suddenly higher sea level, which manifests as a shelf or shelves of water. The leading edge of a tsunami superficially resembles a breaking wave but behaves differently: the rapid rise in sea level, combined with the weight and pressure of the ocean behind it, has far greater force. This confines the caption more strictly to the differences between the tsunami and the Hokusai wave. Mark1 05:44, 7 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Good suggestion, thanks. I've changed the article accordingly —Sandover 17:16, 8 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Hokusai vote

If this is not a tsunami depiction, should we have this Hokusai image in the article at all?

I support its inclusion, with the caption, because it's a very well-known image which can actually help debunk a popular misconception about tsunami. There's a public service element to Wikipedia, and I think more people are likely to read (and remember) the caption and its warning than are likely to understand and heed the implications the long scientific explanation to the left. Sandover 21:36, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)

  • Please do not vote on this. We write articles by consensus, not by majority. Mark1 05:19, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Reference query.

Is [16] an external link, or is it a reference? Seems like a reference. - 06:56, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Bristol Channel tsunami

January 20, 1606/1607: along the coast of the Bristol Channel thousands of people were drowned, houses and villages swept away, farmland was inundated and flocks were destroyed by a flood that might have been a tsunami. The cause of the flood remains disputed, it is quite possible that it was caused by a combination of meteorological extremes and tidal peaks . [17]

What's called waves caused by tropical cyclones?

I was here to fix the Korean interwiki link, but finding a good equivalent for Tsunami in Korean language is somewhat ambiguous. We have term "Hae-il"(해일; 海溢), which incorporates high waves caused by tropical cyclones as well as Tsunami. Is there a term in English for waves caused by hurricanes, typhhons, etc.? --Puzzlet Chung 00:48, 16 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Storm surges. -- Arwel 00:55, 16 Apr 2005 (UTC)

In korean, haeil includes both of tsunamis and storm surges. We distinguish between them by Jijin-haeil(Earthquake haeil; Tsunami) and Pokpung-haeil(Storm haeil; storm surge). Is there a word for both of them in english and japanese? -- ChongDae 12:56, 7 May 2005 (UTC)