Friday, April 25, 2008

械 - I'm Shackled to this MACHINE

Readings & Meanings:



Common Usage:







The industrialization of agriculture has progressed.

Human beings are not machines, so sometimes there is a need to relax.


木 is the radical.

The phonetic element is 戒, "admonish." It's a pictograph of a pair of hands with a spear or halberd (戈). Think of "admonish" as an officer warning his troops to be taut for battle. Or, think of brandishing your spear to your enemy, thus "warning" him.

Together, the idea here is "shackles," which used to be made of wood, used for punishment. Such a device was used, perhaps a lot? Thus we get "machine."

Bonus: 産む機械

In January 2007, the Health Minister of Japan Hakuo Yanagisawa referred to women as "child-bearing machines," or 産む機械. It was in reference to Japan's declining birthrate.

Of course it sparked a controversy. Although he followed it up with a "pardon the expression" kind of apology, it was still stunning that a Minister of Health would feel free to alienate half of the people he was supposed to be looking out for.

For a little context and the exact quote, please go to the more-learned Japanese linguistics blog No-sword at this address:


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