Ko seemingly is a buddhist term (from sanskrit kalpa) describing "an enormous passage of time, the next thing to eternity." (Source: Kawabata's Master of Go, ISBN 0-679-76106-3, footnote 39) (Also aluded to in let's play go page 30)
The original Chinese word ko means to rob. (Source: Go History at yutopian.com)
However, the Japanese term ko literally means "threat" (which means a ko threat would be redundant :) )
What? I thought it meant "eternity", i.e. the same as in the sanskrit and so forth.
exswoo That's the secondary meaning of the same kanji. A ko situation would involve both of those things, but I personally prefer to concentrate the threat def. more so than the eternity(well, more like a "a very long time" than eternity) def., but I guess you can go with what you like. :)
iopq: According to an appendix in Lasker's book, it's "aptitude or cleverness."
Malweth: This is presumably taken from Korschelt's 1880 work on go. Arthur Smith makes mention of this mistranslation in TheGameOfGoTheNationalGameOfJapan/RulesOfPlay#100 in which Smith uses the translation "Threat."
It is interesting to note that the Chinese character 劫 is jie2, take by force, coerce; disaster (from this dictionary). This corresponds better with the translation "Threat"
The translation aligns with the situation of Ko fairly well... describing not the reason for the rule (eternity), but the required action.
xela: One of the confusing thing about the Japanese language is its abundance of homonyms. The same sound can be "spelled" with different characters, taking on different meanings. So "ko" written as 劫 means "threat" or "eternity", whereas "ko" written as 小 means "small" (as in komoku). The two are unrelated; it's just an unfortunate coincidence that they sound the same.
Bill: Actually, they don't sound the same. The ko in komoku is a short syllable, while ko, the word, has two syllables (or a diphthong), and may be written as kou.
Bill: The long vowel is modern Tokyo dialect, which is now standard. It is still considered to be two syllables, however.
I just found this on http://www.pandanet.co.jp/English/art/dragon.html
Sagat THE FIVE DRAGONS "Hei-Tzu and Bai-Tzu are the two immortals who many years ago invented the game of Go. Thousands of years ago there developed a dispute between them as to who was the better Go player. Word of their argument spread all over the heavens. As they began playing the Gods sent a dragon to observe the game. The dragon was given strict instructions not to return until it could report the entire game. Unfortunately, their rules were somewhat primitive compared to the ones we use today. The most notable difference was that they had not yet invented the rule of Ko. Being immortal, and endlessly patient, they have been repeating the same position for millennia. Every few thousand years the Gods send another dragon to see if the game has ended. Currently there are five watching the game, although there is speculation that a sixth dragon will soon be on its way. It is because of their standoff that we have the rule of Ko."
The resolution of this discussion can be inserted in the ko page.