I have been thinking about the origins of the word ホチキス (hochikisu) (sometimes ホッチキス) in Japanese.
To a native speaker of English who actually knows the word Hotchkiss, it usually refers to a WWI machine gun and related military impedimenta. To a Japanese, ホチキス invariably refers to an office paper stapler.
When I first encountered the term in Japanese I assumed it came from the American brand of stapler of that name, which was dominant in the market in the early years of the 20th century. A Japanese participant in the sci.lang.japan usenet group was of the view it derived from the machine gun, so I went digging.
Some Japanese dictionaries attribute the term to the invention of the stapler by one B.B. Hotchkiss. We see, for example:
Koujien tells a slightly different story:
A bit further digging turns up the following:
See the entry in the Stapler Database and Curtis Scaglione's Stapler Exchange page.
Nothing that I could find in WWW documents stated a relationship between the BB Hotchkiss (died 1885) and the Hotchkisses who 10 years later founded an office products company. As they all hailed from Connecticut, they may well have been related. In fact Curtis Scaglione has since informed me that according to Eli's great-great-grandson, Eli was related to the inventor of the gun.
In 2003 I aired this on the jeKai mailing list. Yuno Hanlon passed on a reference to a site dealing with names and trademarks. The ホチキス section says:
So Mr Shigeki Yoshida (吉田茂樹), the author of this site, thinks it is a case of confusion.
Yuno commented: "The entry for ホチキス provides a link to a page in the website of the office supply company マックス, which traces an (inconclusive) search for the origin of ホチキス by NTV. It also says that, according to another TV programme (なるほど・ザ・ワールド), Eli Hotchkiss is Benjamin's younger brother."
This conflation of the manufacturer of the Hotchkiss stapler and the inventor of the Hotchkiss machine gun seems to be a totally Japanese thing. I can't find a source for it outside Japan. Certainly nothing available about the Hotchkiss company in the US ever mentions Benjamin or his machine gun. Did Benjamin actually invent the stapler, but left it to relatives to turn into a product a decade or more after his death? Was Eli a much younger brother of Benjamin?
It seems unlikely to me. I suspect a lexicographic slip which has been repeated, and has now become part of the folklore.
Created 2005-01-01 by Jim Breen with additional references from Yuno Hanlon.