Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Review: Genzai, Sonzai, Anki, Chosha, Gakkyuuiin

Matching: read the kanji compounds in context, then match them to the English below. Answers provided in the comments.

Sentences:

現在1日に何件の電話を受けていますか?

ヘミングウェイは老人と海の著者だ。

彼はクラスの中で存在がある。

日本語の暗記は難しい。アンキパンがあるといいのに。

彼は学級委員長に選ばれた。

Compounds:

1.現在

2.著者

3.存在

4.暗記

5.学級委員

English:

a. existence

b. class rep

c. memorization

d. author

e. present, now

Review: Kaikaku, Hyougen, Arano, Sensou, Sentakuki

Matching: read the kanji compounds in context, then match them to the English below. Answers provided in the comments.

Sentences:

小さい頃、「荒野に猫は生き抜いて」という本の読書感想文を書いた事がある。

洗い物は洗濯機に入れておきなさい。

沖縄では今でも戦争の傷跡が生々しく残っている。

教育システムの改革が今年から始まる。

この気持ちを表現する事は不可能に近い。

Compounds:

1.荒野

2.洗濯機

3.戦争

4.改革

5.表現

English:

a. expression

b. war

c. reform

d. wasteland

e. washing machine

Review: Kako, Gokai, Yoyuu, Henshuu, Kanmiryou

Matching: read the kanji compounds in context, then match them to the English below. Answers provided in the comments.

Sentences:

アメリカでは、砂糖の代わりにノーカロリーの人工甘味料がはやっている。

心に余裕がないと何事も失敗しがちだ。

私は新聞社で編集の仕事をしている。

過去の過ちを二度と繰り返さないよう心に誓う。

ロミオはジュリエットが死んだと誤解して自殺してしまった。

Compounds:

1.甘味料

2.余裕

3.編集

4.過去

5.誤解

English:

a. the past

b. surplus

c. sweetener

d. misunderstanding

e. editing

Review: Rambou, Yudan, Shibou, Kiken, Nikkouyoku

Matching: read the kanji compounds in context, then match them to the English below. Answers provided in the comments.

Sentences:

乱暴な運転に注意。

日光浴で肌を焼きすぎてしまった。

危険!近いよるな!

油断して、試験に落ちた。

お腹の周りの脂肪が気になり始めた。



Compounds:

1.乱暴

2.日光浴

3.危険

4.油断

5.脂肪

English:

a. fat

b. danger

c. violent, reckless

d. unpreparedness

e. sunbathing

Review Week Continued

Still got to go through all of these kanji again. Try to memorize the sentences that I give you. Then, try to make your own sentences with the particular kanji.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Review: Onkou, Ashiato, Shochuu, Teikiatsu, Nesshin

Matching: read the kanji compounds in context, then match them to the English below. Answers provided in the comments.

Sentences:

またまた、悩ましい低気圧がやってきます...

暑中お見舞い申し上げます。

野口英世はアフリカで熱心に黄熱病の研究し、それが為に命を落とした。

普段は温厚な私ですが...

この辺りには時々熊の足跡が残っている。

Compounds:

1.低気圧

2.暑中

3.熱心

4.温厚

5.足跡

English:

a. Mid-summer

b. passion

c. footprints

d. low pressure

e. gentle, nice, warm

Review: Bento, Onsen, Atari, Atama, Danbo

Matching: read the kanji compounds in context, then match them to the English below. Answers provided in the comments.

Sentences:

この温泉は温くない。 温度が低い。

暖房を使って、部屋を暖める。

彼は頭がいい。

この辺りには公衆電話がありますか?

このお弁当は本当にうまそう!

Compounds:

1.温泉

2.暖房

3.頭がいい

4.辺り

5.お弁当

English:

a. area, location

b. onsen, hot spring

c. bento, boxed lunch

d. heater

e. smart

Review: I've got wages in my account, but the price of the amusement park made me break out in a cold sweat.

Matching: read the kanji compounds in context, then match them up to the English below.

Sentences:

銀行の預金口座にお金を入れる。

ハイウェイで鹿をひきそうになって冷汗をかいた。

彼女と遊園地でデートした。

値段が高い。

今月の給与は思ったより少なかった。

Compounds:

1.預金口座

2.冷汗

3.遊園地

4.値段

5.給与

English:

a. price

b. amusement park

c. cold sweat

d. bank account

e. wages

Answers in the comments.

Review: As usual, my love is thin and my commerce is in a bad condition.

Let's play a matching game. I'm going to give you 5 sentences without translation. Then I'll show you the kanji compounds that I'm interested in, and you will have to match them to the English meaning.

Please turn off Rikaichan for the duration of this review. And don't worry if you don't understand/remember the whole sentence. The point is to get a feeling for the kanji compound from contextual clues.

Sentences:

相変わらず、東大生は、難しく考えるねぇ

愛していると言ってくれ

お腹の具合が悪い。

中国で大規模な商業が営まれるようになったのは、唐王朝後期のことである。

眠りが浅い

Compounds/kanji:

1.相変わらず

2.愛する

3.具合

4.商業

5.薄い

English

a. commerce, trading

b. love

c. thin

d. condition

e. as usual

Match the English to the compounds. The answers are in the comments section.

Review Week

It occurred to me that, while posting about 5 kanji a day is great for my recognition of the kanji, I'd be better off learning the new words that each kanji brings to my attention.

I'm going to spend this week reviewing the 100 kanji done so far. Let's do it in context, though.

Friday, February 22, 2008

占 - DIVINE What the Cracks Want To Say


Readings & Meanings:

うらな(う)

セン

し(める)

to divine, divination, to occupy/hold a seat

Common Usage:

占領軍

占める

占い師

独占

Examples:

アメリカ占領軍の影響で沖縄の人はSPAMを食べるようになった。

その会社はアルミニウム鋼板の生産にかけては世界一のシェアを占めている。

占い師によると今年は東北東の方角が吉だという。

CNNはその大統領選の候補者に独占インタビューをした。

Translations:

Okinawans came to like SPAM, it seems, from the influence of the American occupation.

That company holds the largest share of aluminum sheeting production in the world.

The fortune teller says that, this year, good luck will come from east-northeast.

CNN broadcast its exclusive interview with the presidential candidate.

Bonus:

占 is kind of a radical in its own right, but let's just break it down for fun. 卜 means divination. When I saw this kanji, I first thought, "ト?" but it's not the katakana. My next thought was "Divining rod?" and that was a good guess, but no. 卜 is a pictograph of a crack in a bone or skull that was burned in the seer's rites. It's on top of 口. Therefore, telling the future.

Divination was used as it was in Greece: you should only pick a piece of land if the divination for that land was good. Thereby 占 gained the meaning of "to occupy."

Let's remember this kanji through another kanji: 店. みせ is 占 framed in a roof and a wall. Therefore, the shop occupies a certain space to do business in.

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/tnetwork/TAM.html#TAM03
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/e.htm

敬 - Be RESPECTFUL Or Get Beaten By a Stick


Readings & Meanings:

うやま(う)

ケイ

respect

Common Usage:

敬う

尊敬

敬語

敬意

Examples:

目上の人を敬いなさい。

野口英世は私の尊敬する科学者だ。

敬語を使えない若者が増えている。

戦争中に亡くなった人々に敬意を表して黙祷する。

Translations:

Respect your elders.

Hideyo Noguchi is a scientist I greatly respect.

Young men who can't use polite forms of speech are increasing in number.

Let us hold a moment of silent prayer for all those who have died in war.

Radicals:

攵, "Boku," is on the right. This radical is a pictogram of a hand breaking something with a stick.

The part on the left (苟) apparently bears no relation to the kanji 苟, which means "any". No relation, even though they look identical. The 苟-looking piece of 敬 combines person, horns, and a mouth. Kanji Networks says it's like going stiff when faced by a charging ram, thus stiffness, formality.

Whatever. We're going to remember this kanji by thinking this way: "If 苟 (any) student is rude, he gets 攵 (the stick). That's how you teach respect."

Important:

敬語. Keigo. It's an important thing, in Japanese. Too bad it doubles our work as learners. You have to learn new rules, new vocabulary, new kanji. All of my teachers have always put keigo off until, say, Intermediate II level. By then, it's too late. We've already practiced and practiced with the neutral or (a little bit) casual expressions.

I think keigo should be taught right away, alongside normal speech. I'm still struggling with keigo these days, and I wish I'd learned it earlier.

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/knetwork/KANG.html#KANG33
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/e.htm

裏 - BEHIND Your Mask You Are Planning to Betray Me


Readings & Meanings:

うら



reverse side, back, opposite

Common Usage:

秘密裏

裏表

裏切る

Examples:

秘密裏に事がすすむ。

彼は裏表のある人だから信用できない。

校長先生がズボンを裏表にしてはいていたのに気づいた?

その女性は長年付き合っていた彼氏に裏切られて自殺した。

Translations:

It advanced in secret.

He's a double-dealing guy, so I can't trust him.

Did you see the principal's wearing his pants inside out?!

The guy that she was dating for a very long time betrayed her, and she committed suicide.

Radicals:

亠, the pot lid Nabebuta, is on top. We discussed this in

衣, clothing, is on the bottom. See http://sokasoka.blogspot.com/2008/02/folds-in-your-clothes.html

里 is in the middle, the belt (of land) kanji we pointed out in .

Okay, so "belt," "clothes" and "lid." Kanji Networks says "As per 里 (Type 1 Phonetic) (belt of land) + 衣 clothing → strips of fabric used as lining/backing material for clothes → back; reverse; opposite; inside. Extended meanings include (in) secret, behind the scenes, the sole and the bottom half of an inning."

Fair enough. I still don't see the connection between 里 and strips of clothing, but I'll deal.

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/lnetwork/LAG.html#LAG07
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/e.htm

埋 - BURY Me in My Birth-Town's Soil


Readings & Meanings:

う(まう)

う(める)

マイ

to bury, to fill up, to be buried, to be filled up

Common Usage:

埋蔵金

埋葬

埋没

埋める

Examples:

徳川幕府が残したという埋蔵金をまだ探している人々もいる。

お葬式の後、祖父の遺体はお墓に埋葬された。

彼は自分の世界に埋没していて、めったに人と話さない。

生ごみを畑に埋めた。

Translations:

There are still people who are looking for what's said to be the Tokugawa Shogunate's buried treasure.

After the funeral, my grandfather was interred in his grave.

He's (buried) in his own world and rarely speaks to people.

I buried the compost in the field.

Radicals:

土 on the left, the earth radical. It's also on the bottom of 里, under 田. 里 means "village," "the country," or "hometown." It has to do with a belt of land with crop fields and other types of land as well.

Important:

The radicals are your friends. They're your buddies. They don't want you to slip up and think 埋 is 理. That's why they're there.

土 says, "Look at me! I only have two horizontal lines, and this emphasizes the longer bottom line beneath me! Therefore, I am GROUND, I am EARTH. まる means to bury in the EARTH!"

玉 says, "Look at my three horizontal lines. How magnificent they are. I am a JEWEL, but true wealth comes from KNOWLEDGE, REASON (). I have nothing to do with burial."

Final Thoughts:

産まれて、埋まられる。 You're born, and later buried. Very similar sounds for birth and burial.

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/misc/cltrnjpn.html#MLAG02
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/e.htm

馬 - HORSE


Long post today. Lot to talk about when it comes to horses. We'll look at how horse and deer come together to mean "idiot" and how much horses care about winds and religious writings.

Readings & Meanings:

うま





horse

Common Usage:

馬鹿



馬耳東風

馬の耳に念仏

Examples:

「馬鹿!」とその子供は叫んだ。

馬に乗って草原を駆けてみたい。

彼にお小言を言っても馬耳東風だ。

そんなことを彼に言っても馬の耳に念仏だ。

Translations:

"Dumbass!" the children shouted.

I want to try riding a horse on an open, grassy field.

Even if you criticize him, he cares about as much as a horse cares about the spring wind (it rolls off him like water from a duck's back).

Even if you tell him that, it's like chanting sutras to a horse (like talking to a brick wall).

Radical:

馬 is a radical in its own right. 馬 is also a pictogram of its meaning: horse. It's used in 駅 (train station) and 駆ける (to ride, gallop, run).

Bonus: バカ

Mostly written today in hiragana or katakana (katakana emphasizes the insult even more), 馬鹿 is the original kanji of the word everyone uses to describe an idiot. Writing it in kanji is not unheard-of, though.

馬 is horse. 鹿 is deer. Wha?

There are a lot of stories and theories about how 馬鹿 came to be. Many Japanese people think it's just ateji, from when Japanese people pick random kanji for sounds, not for meaning. Others think that 馬鹿 comes from a Sanskrit word for hypocrite. (Sanskrit has a very loose connection to Japanese, via the Buddhist sutras. See dharma and だるま.)

I like the stories about 馬鹿. Below are two or three varieties:

A Chinese emperor went hunting and spotted a horse. He said, "Look at that deer!" His attendants all agreed it was a beautiful deer, for fear of the emperor. Through this fear, everyone became stupid.


A morality tale twist on the above:

A Chinese emperor went hunting and spotted a horse. He said, "Look at that deer!" His attendants all agreed it was a beautiful deer, all but one. That one said, "That is a horse." The Emperor had all of the yes-men attendants killed, and elevated the one that told him the truth to be his second-in-command.


How nice. But that sounds too Brothers-Grimm for me to accept. This bleaker one sounds more likely:

In China, the succeeding emperor was a bit slow. He was controlled completely by his second-in-command. One day, the second-in-command presented the court with a deer, saying it was a horse. The emperor asked his attendants what they saw, but they were too afraid of the puppeteer behind the throne to speak honestly. They said they saw a horse.


What to say? That last one is the older story, but it's probably just plain-old folk etymology. (I love folk etymology, though.) The evidence against the story being true is pretty damning. The Chinese pronunciation of the characters 馬鹿 is not the same as the Japanese, as would be expected if it were a borrowing from Chinese.

Also, Chinese people don't have the last story in their history. Chinese apparently does have an idiom for "Point at a deer and call it a horse," but it means to point at black and call it white, to lie and call it truth. (I don't speak Chinese, so please correct me if I'm wrong.) But the sense of "stupidity" just isn't there.

Usage of バカ today:

バカ can range in rudeness degree. It can be as light as "Silly!" and as pointed as "Dumb F*@#". It always has a connotation of stupidity.

In Tokyo, being called "baka" is usually not worth raising your fists over. In the Kansai region (Osaka/Kyoto/Nara), it's apparently more insulting than not. (The reverse is true of アホ: In Kansai it's like "dude" but in Tokyo it's a fighting word.)

ソー, I encourage you to remember the story about the puppet emperor and the deer gift. It'll stick in your mind better that way.

Idioms:

馬耳東風 - Horse ears, spring wind. This means indifference to what other people say or do.

The spring wind is an exciting thing to feel and smell. Don't you love the smell of spring? That rich scent that means the plants will start blooming, the weather will be warm, the snow will (maybe) stop falling?

Well, to a horse, it's just wind. Horses aren't going to care all that much. So, while we humans dance and sing in the spring wind, horses just twitch their ears and snort.

馬の耳に念仏 - A prayer in a horse's ear. This means that your words do nothing, fall flat, have no effect.

Although this seems obvious--if a horse doesn't care about spring winds, why would he care about a prayer?--I feel I should add one comment. Most Japanese people hear only gibberish when Buddhist monks pray. Their prayers are done in a stylized tongue. So, to a horse, it's doubly meaningless.

It's a hilarious image. A monk bending the ear of a horse to chant a prayer. What's the horse doing in the temple, anyway?

References:

http://gogen-allguide.com/ha/baka.html
http://www.japan-101.com/culture/baka_japanese_folk_tale.htm
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/e.htm

Thursday, February 21, 2008

産 - Well-Formed CREATIONS & PRODUCTS

Readings & Meanings:

うぶ

サン

う(む)

childbearing, product, fortune, to give birth, to produce

Common Usage:

産業

特産物

産地

産声

産む

産湯

Examples:

豊田市では自動車産業が盛んだ。

スイカは熊本の特産物だ。(熊本はスイカの産地だ。)

元気な産声を上げて赤ちゃんが産(生)まれた。

赤ちゃんを産湯に入れる。

Translations:

In Toyota, Aichi, there are many people in the automobile industry.

Watermelon is one of Kumamoto's specialties. (Kumamoto is a watermelon-producing area.)

With a strong first cry, the baby was born.

We're going to give the baby his first bath.

Radical:

Some of you may have noticed that 産む sounds and is used exactly like 生む. (What tipped you off, the 生 in the example?)

Look closer; please really look at .

You see it now, don't you? The 生 hiding in 産!

The frame around 生 is an abbreviation of 彦, which means "well-formed." Thus, 産's meaning has extended to formed things, products.

As for whether or not to use 生む or 産む when referring to birth, I think it doesn't matter.

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/snetwork/SAN.html#SAN07
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/e.htm

腕 - Bend Your ARMS and Use Your ABILITY

Readings & Meanings:

うで

ワン

arm, talent, ability

Common Usage:



片腕

腕試し

鉄腕

Examples:

重い物を運んだので腕が痛い。

料理の腕を振るう。

21歳で彼は社長の片腕となって働いた。

2級の試験を受けたのは、腕試しつもりだった。

鉄腕アトムは日本で初めて作られたテレビアニメだ。

Translations:

My arms hurt from moving heavy things.

I'll show you my talent for cooking.

At 21, he worked as the right-hand-man of the company president.

When I took the second-level test, I did it in order to test my own ability.

Astro Boy (鉄腕アトム=Atom the Strong) was the first TV anime series made in Japan.

Radical:

Just as in , you can see here the body-part radical, 月. That's clear enough.

We've also got 宛 on the right. "Two figures bending beneath a cover," says Kanji Networks.


are bendable body parts, hence, arms.

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/knetwork/KUAN.html#KUAN30
http://sokasoka.blogspot.com/2008/02/can-you-stomach-working-rice-field-in.html
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/e.htm

器 - I Need a VESSEL To Store Food for Four Mouths and a Dog


Readings & Meanings:

うつわ



vessel, tool、capacity

Common Usage:

陶器



器用貧乏

器量

Examples:

高価な陶器を落として割ってしまった。

あの人は器の大きい人だ。

私は器用貧乏で何でも並にできるが、どれも大成しない。

あの店の奥さんはとても器量よしだ。

Translations:

I dropped and shattered a very expensive piece of pottery.

That person has a great capacity for understanding and doing anything.

I'm good at most things, but I haven't really accomplished anything.

That shopkeeper's wife has really good looks.

Radical:

口, mouth, has been quadrupled here to show that there could be many different kinds and shapes of vessels that 器 refers to. 口 surrounds a character that comes from 犬, but don't ask me why. Don't ask me!

Bonus:

器用貧乏 is a great word. I love how the Japanese have an exact match of our "Jack of all trades, master of none" sentiment, summed up in a four-kanji combo.

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/knetwork/KAT.html#KAT19
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/e.htm

美 - Baa Baa BEAUTY


Readings & Meanings:

うつく(しい)



beautiful, beauty

Common Usage:

美しい

美術

美学

美人

Examples:

その娘はとても美しかった。

大学で美術を学んでいます。

そのようなことは私の美学に反する。

あの店の奥さんはとても美人だ。

Translations:

That girl was really beautiful.

I am studying art at college.

That kind of thing goes against my sense of aesthetics.

The wife of that shopkeeper is an incredible-looking lady (a "vision").

Radical:

Um, you're not going to believe me on this one. No, really, you're not.

This has a 羊 sheep radical on top.

Because sheep were thought to be beautiful.

Hey, man, whatever floats your 船.

In , we see "sheep" on top of 大, meaning a big, "well-formed" sheep with "delicate, curly wool," and that means beauty.

Bonus:

If you get to know at least 10 Japanese women, chances are you will find this kanji in one of their names. Usually, in girls' names, it is pronounced "み", but it still means "beautiful". Examples are: Asami, Yumi, Naomi, Kumi, Miho, Misa... It goes on and on.

Extra Bonus:

I didn't include this pronunciation in the Readings section, but this word also contains 美: 美味しい (oishii).

A beautiful taste = delicious. Nice. From now on, every time I eat something good, I'm going to think "This has a beautiful taste." Especially if I'm eating mutton.

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/mnetwork/MUAR.html#MUAR03
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/e.htm

打 - HIT the Nail with Your Hand


Readings & Meanings:

う(つ)



strike, hit, to beat

Common Usage:

打撃

打つ

Examples:

母の死に彼女は大きな打撃を受けた。

最後に彼は逆転ホームランを打った。

Translations:

The death of her mother was a big blow for her.

In the end, in a sudden reversal of fortune, he hit a home run.

Radical:

手 radical on the left combines with the same "straight" nail picto- we saw in on the right to mean "hit straight on."

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/tnetwork/TANG.html#TANG46
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/e.htm

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

内 - Put It INSIDE


Readings & Meanings:

うち

ない

だい

inside

Common Usage:

内輪



内緒話

家内

内容

Examples:

遺産を巡って、兄弟で内輪もめになった。

2月3日の節分では"鬼は外、福は内"と叫んで豆を投げて厄払いする。

本人が席を外しているときに内緒話をする。

家内に頼んで、ワイシャツをクリーニングに出してもらった。

この本の内容を知っていますか。

Translations:

The siblings started a famiily quarrel over the inheritance.

On February Third, Setsubun day, we exorcise evil spirits by saying "Devils out, good luck in!" and throwing beans.

When the person in question is leaving his seat, secret talks are held.

I asked my wife to take my shirts to the cleaners.

Do you know what's in this book?

Radicals:

This one's thankfully simple, compared to recent entries. 入 is combined with a box/roof form, indicating that something was put WITHIN.

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/nnetwork/NAM.html#NAM02
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

疑 - I Can't Move On, That Kid Is Really SUSPICIOUS-Looking


Readings & Meanings:

うたが (う)



to doubt; suspicion

Common Usage:

疑心暗鬼

疑う

疑い

疑惑

Examples:

妻が浮気をしているのではないかと疑心暗鬼になる。

彼はウソをついているのではないかと疑った。

店主は彼が万引きをしたのでは、と疑いの眼差しを向けた。

その政治家の収賄したという疑惑は大きくなるばかりだ。

Translations:

Once you begin to doubt her, you will start to suspect your wife might be having an affair.

She suspected him of telling lies.

The store manager turned a suspicious look on him, a look that suspected him of shoplifting.

The suspicion that that politician took bribes has all of a sudden just become a huge story.

Radicals:

疋, the main radical, is a pair of legs pointing in opposite directions.

矣's lower part is in the bottom left of 疑. 矣 is a picture of a person coming to a stop and looking behind himself.

The ヒ-looking part on the top left is a form of 子(really?).

The マ on top right is a form of 人 (really).

Okay, so what have we got? A person, whose legs are stuck in an awkward position, because he's looking back at a child.

When you are suspicious, something has captivated your thoughts, and you can't move on from it. You are stuck that way until you can resolve your suspicions.

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/knetwork/KAG.html#KAG47
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

薄 - Shallow Water Breeds THIN Grass


Readings & Meanings:

うす (い)

はく

thin, light, weak, pale

Common Usage:

薄氷を踏む

薄い

Examples:

練習不足で本番に出たときには、薄氷を踏む思いだった。

書道は半紙という薄い紙に筆と墨で字を書く。

60代になってそろそろ髪の毛が薄くなってきた。

Translations:

I didn't prepare enough, so when the time came, I felt like I was skating on thin ice.

When doing calligraphy, you draw your characters with brush and ink on a thin piece of paper called "honshi".

Around 60 my hair slowly became thinner and thinner.

Radicals:

The grass crown (艸, くさかんむり) is on top of 溥 (meaning widespread).

Let's take 溥 apart.

寸 is on the bottom. We've seen this in 時. It's a hand exerting pressure. Think of it as a measuring idea.

甫 is above 寸. 甫 comes from a picture of a seedling sprouting from a rice field. The idea is that seedlings spread through fields, so 甫 means broad, wide.

Finally, we've got 水 on the right in the San-zui form, the three drops.

Put it together: when you measure water that is widespread, you'll find it is SHALLOW.

Grass, living in shallow water, is bound to be THIN.

Opposite:

厚, thick. My post on 厚 is here: http://sokasoka.blogspot.com/2008/02/thick-warm-gentle-rude-make-up-your.html

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/pnetwork/PAK.html#PAK09
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

失 - The Big Professor Is Always LOSING しつ


Readings & Meanings:

うしな (う)

しつ

to lose, slip

Common Usage:

失敗

失い

失意

失う

失礼

Examples:

失敗は成功のもと。

彼は家財全てを失い、失意のうちに死んだ。

事故から30年後、彼女は失った記憶を取り戻した。

これから病院に行きますので、今日はこれで失礼します。

Translations:

Every failure is a stepping-stone to success.

He lost all of his family's possessions and died in despair.

30 years after the accident, she recovered her memories.

I'm afraid I must be going, because I have to go to the hospital.

Radicals:

Well, Kanji Networks can't seem to make up its mind. On the one hand, it says that the radical is 大, which I can certainly see, but on the other, it says that the pictograph shows a hand (手) with a slanting line to the right, indicating something slipping from a hand.

I think this kanji looks like the sen in sensei, though, and hopefully that will help me to remember it.

Bonus:

I knew this kanji was part of "failure" (失敗), but I didn't realize until now that it was the SHITSU in SHITSUREI (失礼)!

If you don't know how to use 失礼, you've never worked in Japan. At the end of every day, when you leave the office (at 10:00 or so), you have to say "O-saki ni shitsurei shimasu," meaning "I'm sorry I'm so rude as to leave before you."

It's one of the first phrases I learned in Japan, the day after I arrived. And, until now, I didn't know the kanji for it. 失礼. Wow.

References:

http://sokasoka.blogspot.com/2007/06/jlpt-2-kanji.html
http://www.kanjinetworks.com/tnetwork/TAT.html#TAT23
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

承 - Ma AGREES by Shaking Hands


Readings & Meanings:

うけたまわ (る)

しょう

to hear, to agree to

Common Usage:

承る

承知

了承

Examples:

ご注文を何でも承ります。

一万円でギターを売る事で承知した。

彼と一緒に住む事は家族も了承している。

Translations:

I will hear any order.

We agreed to sell the guitar for 10,000 yen.

My family also accepted my living with him.

Radicals:

So squished in the middle you can hardly make it out is 手, hand. The marks on the left and the right are meant to be hands as well. At the top is the MA form of hito, person. The idea is that, kneeling, you ACCEPT things with your hands.

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/tnetwork/TANG.html#TANG64
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

Monday, February 18, 2008

受 - One Hand TAKES, the Other Hand Passes It On


Readings & Meanings:

う (かる)

じゅ

う (け)

to receive, to take, popularity, receptacle

Common Usage:

受賞

受験

受け取る

Examples:

彼は今月、努力賞を受賞した。

兄は今年は受験の年だ。

多くの人から花を受け取った。

Translations:

This month, he won a prize for great effort.

For him, this year is the year he takes the test.

She got many flowers from many people.

Radicals:

Like , we've got a hand/claw on the top: 爪. Below a lid, we see 又 (again), also a pictograph of a hand.

A hand taking something from another hand. Receiving.

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/tnetwork/TOG.html#TOG31
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

浮 - Protect a Child from Drowning: Use FLOATies


Readings & Meanings:

う (かぶ) to float, to come to mind



う (く)

to float, to be left over

Common Usage:

浮き輪

浮き沈み

浮力

浮く

Examples:

海で溺れそうになっている人に浮き輪を投げた。

太宰治は浮き沈みの多い人生を送った。

船は浮力を利用して浮かんでいる。

Translations:

They threw a floatation ring to the person drowning in the ocean.

Osamu Dazai was sent many ups and downs in his life.

Boats use floatation devices to float.

Radicals:

Another obvoius one on the left: San-zui tells us that water (水) is involved. Apparently the 孚 on the right is for phonetics. 孚 has a pictograph of a hand above a child (子) and has the meaning of "encase, nourish".

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/pnetwork/POG.html#POG10
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

伺 - To Look In On Another Person Is TO VISIT


Readings & Meanings:

うかが (う)



to ask, to visit, to hear

Common Usage:

伺い

Example:

「ちょっとお伺いしますが、ここから一番近い駅はどこですか。」

Translation:

Pardon me for asking, but where is the nearest station?

Radicals:

司 is a pictograph of a person looking through a narrow hole. 伺 adds another person to the pictograph, so it's now a person looking through a narrow opening at another person. Hence, look in on, ask after, inquire.

Important:

Ugh. When I first saw this kanji, I doubted my memory. I thought, "What? Is this 何? Or 同じ?"

伺 truly does look like a mashup of the two. Remember, if you have to ASK if it's 何 or 同, it's probably 伺.

Oh yes, and 伺う is very formal. Tego. It would be strange to use it together with casual speech.

References:

http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

植 - PLANT a Tree Right, It'll Grow Straight


Readings & Meanings:

う (える)

う (わる)

しょく

to plant, to set up

Common Usage:

植物

植える

Examples:

植物を育てるのが趣味だ。

裏庭に大根を植えた。

Translations:

Raising plants is my hobby.

I planted daikon in my garden.

Radicals:

A familiar face: 木 is the particle on the left. On the right, we have 直, meaning straight. It reminds me of 置, the kanji for "to place". So, placing a tree straight in the ground is how you plant it.

References:

http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

初 - FIRST, Cut the Cloth


Readings & Meanings:

うい

しょ

はつ

そ(める)

はじめ

first, beginning

Common Usage:

初(ウブ)

初日の出

初めて

Examples:

私が18歳のころはまだ初だった。 

お正月には初日の出を見に行った。

「初めてお目にかかります鈴木です。今後とも宜しくお願いします。」

Translations:

When I was 18 years old, I was still naive.

On New Year's, we went to see the first sunrise of the year.

"I'm very pleased to meet you; my name is Suzuki."

Radicals:

If you look carefully, you'll see that the radical on the left is nothing like 礻. Not even a little. See that extra dot we've got in the middle? That's how you know this radical is a scrunched form of , which we know to be for clothing.

We've also got the "Katana" radical, 刀. This pictograph of a sword next to the clothing radical says (according to Kanji Networks) that the first step in making clothes is to cut the material. Fair enough.

Important:

始めまして or 初めまして? More on this later. For now, it seems that you can use either interchangeably for the greeting "hajimemashite."

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/snetwork/SAG.html#SAG04
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

Oooohs

Into the うs.

初 _ 植 - 伺 - 浮 _ 受

宇 - SPACE--Beyond the Roof of the Sky

Readings & Meanings:



universe, space

Common Usage:

宇宙(人)

Examples:

宇宙人は本当にいると思いますか?

Translations:

Do you think aliens really exist?

Radical:

The "roof" particle, 宀 (うかんむり), indicates here the roof above us all, the heavens, outer space. The inner particle is mainly here for phonetics, but the pictograph of 于 indicates an object that, rising, hits something and bends.

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/knetwork/KUAG.html#KUAG04
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

因 - That Box Was the CAUSE of Big Trouble

Readings & Meanings:

イン

よ(る)

ちな(み)

cause, connection

Common Usage:

因みに



Examples:

...因みに豆腐は豆乳を固めたものです。

彼が会社を辞めた原因はコレです。

因果応報、とは言ってみれば"天ツバ"のことです。

Translations:

In this way, tofu is a product of hardening soymilk.

This is the reason he quit his job.

If you want to talk about karma, try "spitting at heaven."

Radical:

When a box surrounds another kanji, it's not considered the くち radical any more. Instead, it's くにがまえ, an enclosure or surrounding.

Inside the box is a character that looks like 大. One would think that this means "big enclosure," but Kanji Networks says differently:


...shows bedding on which rests a person or object → depend; cause; be connected with (← superimposition) → be based on; be due to; therefore; consequently.
But that doesn't really help with a mnemonic.

Think of something big, springing from a little box. Think Pandora. All the big troubles of the world came from inside that box. The box is the cause of something greater.

Spitting at Heaven?

因果応報 is more of a concept than a word. 因(cause) + 果(effect) + 応報(retribution) = karma, just deserts, comeuppance.

So what's "天ツバ"?

天 is heaven. ツバ is 唾, or spit.

It's a phrase that is shortened from "天に唾する", which is shortened from "天を仰ぎて唾す". There are a few versions, but that one is the classic. Note the す at the end, an old way of saying する.

What do you get when you spit (upward) at heaven? Instant karma, all over your face.

Bonus:

One more thing about spit: 眉唾.

In olden times, there was a Japanese superstition that, if you heard something suspicious, you should rub spit on your eyebrow, and it would have a knock-on-wood effect. Lick the tip of your finger and slide it across your eyebrow from the center part to the side of your face.

眉 is eyebrow, 唾 is spit.

Today, 毎唾 is a word indicating suspiciousness. When you doubt the story someone is telling, you can say:

その話は、眉唾物だ!

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/knetwork/KAN.html#KAN38
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

羽 - FEATHERS

Readings & Meanings:





はね

feather, wing, (わ - counter for birds)

Common Usage:

羽ばたく

羽布団

羽根

Examples:

公園で鳩が一斉に羽ばたいた。

羽布団で寝る。

昨日、背中に羽根が生えた夢を見た。

Translations:

In the park, a pigeon suddenly flapped its wings.

I sleep with a feather-down quilt.

Yesterday I had a dream in which I sprouted wings on my back.

Radical:

羽 is its own radical. It's also a picture of bird feathers. It's used in a few other kanji. My favorite is 習う, to learn. Kanji Networks explains the connection as thus:

repeated flapping of a bird's wings against its body → learn (← learn by repetition ← repeated action) → accustomed; custom; take lessons.
But I prefer to think of learning as taking your mind on a flight of thought. Not very old-Japanese of me, I guess.

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/tnetwork/TAP.html#TAP10
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

印 - Press Your SEAL Down

Readings & Meanings:

イン

しるし

sign, mark

Common Usage:

印度

印鑑

印刷機

Examples:

彼女は本格的なカレーの作り方を習おうとして印度へ行ってしまった。

日本ではサインの代わりに印鑑を使う。

いつも使っていた印刷機が壊れた。

Translations:

Since she decided to learn how to make true, authentic curry, she up and went to India.

In Japan, instead of signing our names, we use seals.

Whenever I use it, the printing press breaks.

Radical:

A hand on the left is forcing someone to kneel on the right. The idea is in pressing down, which is what you do with your name seal.

How this kanji came to be associated with India is likely just sound-matching.

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/knetwork/KAN.html#KAN43
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

引 - DRAW the Bow, PULL the String

Readings & Meanings:

イン

ひ(く)

pull, draw

Common Usage:

引く

引用

Examples:

このドアは押さずに、引いて開けてください。

その政治家は演説で吉田松陰の言葉を引用した。

Translations:

Without pushing, push this door to open.

That politician quoted "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoshida_Sh%C5%8Din">Yoshida Shoin in his speech.

Radical:

弓 is a pictograph of a drawn bow, as in a bow and arrow. The vertical line on the right of 引 merely emphasizes the straightness or extremity of the drawing of the bow.

Bonus:

It'd be pretty tough for you in Japan if you didn't learn this kanji right away, along with its opposite, 押. 引 or 押 are on almost every public door. 引 means Pull and 押 means Push.

But aside from the literal meaning of "pull," 引 combines with other kanji to add a sense of "taking away from," "withdrawing," etc. Check these out:

  1. 万引き - shoplifting
  2. 割引 - discount
  3. 引越し - moving (to another house)
References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/tnetwork/TAN.html#TAN26
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

Friday, February 15, 2008

Third Week Done

And only 856 kanji to go!

Monday is a working day for us here at Sokasoka, so on Monday we shall examine:

引 印 因 羽 宇

祝 - We See the Priest at the Altar, and then CELEBRATE


Readings & Meanings:

いわ(う)

シュク

シュウ

celebrate

Common Usage:

祝日

お祝い

Examples:

垂れ幕には「祝卒業!」と書いてあった。

今度の祝日には何をしますか? 

お誕生日のお祝いに図書券をもらった。

Translations:

Someone wrote "Graduation Celebration!" on the curtains in front.

What are you going to do this holiday?

He received a bookstore gift certificate at his birthday celebration.

Radical:

Again, we've got the "god" radical, Shimesu. Look at our post for more on that.

Next to the altar radical on the left, we see 兄, the elder brother kanji! 兄 derives from a kneeling figure pictogram (a kneeling figure with a huuuuge head).

Let's not take the 兄 kanji literally as "brother" this time. Let's think of it as an elder, a superior or elevated person, higher-up than us. A priest works well.

In a ceremony, a priest kneels (兄) at an altar (礻). And a ceremony is often cause for a celebration ().

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/tnetwork/TOK.html#TOK08
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

岩 - ROCKy Mountain High


Readings & Meanings:

いわ

ガン

rock, crag

Common Usage:



溶岩

Examples:

岩だらけの山に登る。

阿蘇山の溶岩のかけらをお土産に買った。

Translations:

She's going to climb a very rocky mountain.

I bought some fragments of lava from Mount Aso as souvenirs.

Radical:

This one's easy. 山=mountain, 石=stone.

Turns out that 岩 is a variant and simplification of (also known as ).

See, even the Japanese thought 巖 was too hard.

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/knetwork/KAM.html#KAM04
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

居 - To Just Sit and BE


Readings & Meanings:

い(る)

キョ

live, exist, reside

Common Usage:

居間

皇居

居留守

Examples:

居間にはこたつが置いてあった。

皇居は東京の中心地にある。

セールスマンが来たので、居留守を使った。

Translations:

A kotatsu was conveniently placed in the living room.

The Imperial Palace is in the center of Tokyo.

Because a salesman had come, we pretended to be out.

Radical:

Wow.

尸 (Shikabane) comes from a kanji for corpse or buttocks.

古 means old, hard, dried out and comes from a pictograph of a skull.

You'd think this kanji meant death, non-existence, right? I would, after putting those radicals together. But instead, 居 refers to sitting (with your 尸) on a hard surface (古), which means to stay, to exist, to live.

Just putting that together in my head makes me a little dizzy.

Important:

居る is not 要る. Do you need to sit on a hard surface? of course not.

But remember, 居る as a verb is almost always written in ひらがな as いる.

References:

http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

要 - I NEED a Woman from the West


Readings & Meanings:

い(る)

ヨウ

かなめ

require, necessary、pivot

Common Usage:

必要

肝心要

要る

Examples:

必要に応じて、砂糖を加えて下さい。

肝心要の婿が式場に来ていないぞ。

何か要るものがあればおっしゃってください。

Translations:

Add sugar as necessary.

But look, the most important son-in-law-to-be isn't even in the marriage hall yet!

If there's anything you want, just ask.*

Bonus:

Up top is 西, kinda, and down below is 女. In actuality, the above radical is 襾 (which is still called "nishi" just like 西), and the pictographic origin is just bizarre. Check it out if interested: http://www.kanjinetworks.com/knetwork/KOG.html#KOG31

I, however, prefer to put together the idea of "west" and "woman," as you can see in the title of this post.

Important:

Even though they're both pronounced いる, don't confuse 要る (to need) with 居る (to be). Think of the western woman: you don't just want to be with her, you NEED her.

References:

*http://eow.alc.co.jp/%e8%a6%81%e3%82%8b/UTF-8/?ref=sa
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

祈 - Approach the Altar To PRAY


Readings & Meanings:

いの(る)



to pray

Common Usage:

祈願

祈る

祈祷師

Examples:

合格を祈願するために神社にお参りに行った。

平和への祈りを込めて、千羽鶴を折る。

東北にはイタコという女性の祈祷師がいる。

Translations:

I went to the shrine to pray for success.

To focus my prayer for peace, I will fold 1,000 paper cranes.

In the northeast, there is a medicine woman called Itaku.

Radicals:

It's only appropriate that the verb "to pray" kanji have the "god" radical, Shimesu: 示.

Don't see it? That's because it becomes Ne-hen, 礻, when radicalized.

(Man, I wish I were radicalized.)

This "god" radical comes from a pictograph of an altar, and it's present in more kanji than you'd think. Look above in the example sentences and you'll see a couple kanji with the radical:

  • 神社 - jinja, a Shinto shrine
  • 神 - god, usually written alone as 神様
  • 社 - shrine, or company
Why is the 社 in 神社 also used in 会社, the word for a company? Well, I don't know exactly. Maybe because, for many Japanese, working is their main religion?

Okay, that's half the kanji. The other half is the axe radical Onozukuri, 斤. It's from a pictograph of an axe approaching an object it is going to cut. Look at the examples above and you'll see 折る. Think of some other, common words we've seen with this form:
  • 最近 - recently (very + close)
  • 近い - close, nearby
So is like asking god (礻) for something, hoping that something with come close (斤) to you.

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/knetwork/KAR.html#KAR31
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

You know, in Japan, Valentine's Day is when girls give guys chocolate. It's also seemingly the only day when a schoolgirl can tell her crush that she likes him.

Here, it's the day when I'm late to work. See you tomorrow!

Tomorrow's kanji:

祈_要_居_岩_祝

命 - Your LIFE Should Be Your Calling

Readings & Meanings:

いのち

メイ

ミョウ

life, order

Common Usage:



命令

命日

寿命

命名

Examples:

「命が惜しければ金を出せ!」と強盗はナイフを突きつけ、金を持ってくるように命令した。

明日はお祖父さんの命日だ。

亀の寿命は非常に長い。

父親はその子に、”かつ”と命名した。

Translations:

In order to get money, the robber ordered "Your money or your life!" at knifepoint.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of your grandfather's death.

A turtle's lifespan is exceedingly long.

The father named the child "Katsu".

Radicals:

has the same widespread cover as 今 and 会 and all those. It also has a 口 radical. Plus, it looks suspiciously like 令, which means order, dictum (see 命令).

So is a place to gather and be told what to do? I'd prefer to look at it as my kanjinetworks.com site describes it: your life (命) is your calling (mouth 口 + 令 order from a deity).

Bonus:

When I was in Ishikawa-ken on one of the most relaxing, pleasant beaches I've ever been to, a group of three Japanese guys came up to me. They noticed I was (a) a foreigner and (b) taking pictures, so the leader, in his Abercrombie shirt and sort-of sideways cap, started talking to me in little bits of English.

They eventually asked if I wanted to take their picture. I said sure, though I hadn't really been planning on it. They thought about what pose they should make, and then the leader said "いんち!" and made this pose.

Inoch!

They were imitating a Japanese comedian, who was himself imitating the kanji of . The arms are the cover, the legs are 口 and the other bit.

I'll never forget 命 because of these three 元気 guys.

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/mnetwork/MANG.html#MANG12
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

否 - DENYING with your Mouth


Readings & Meanings:

いな



no, denial

Common Usage:

賛否両論



否定

Examples:

賛否両論で結論が出なかった。

「否!」と彼は叫んで刀をつかんだ。

法廷で彼は妻を殺した事を否定した。

Translations:

From the pros and cons, we could not get a conclusion.

"No!" he said as he grabbed his sword.

In the courtroom, he denied killing his wife.

Bonus:

否 for "no" is a samurai word, kind of old. You might hear it in samurai movies, but then again, as it's typically spat out in a rush, you might not catch it.

Radical:

不 is straight from China; it negates over there, too. Add 不 to a word and you negate it. 不便 is the opposite of 便利.

口 is mouth.

So when you negate with your mouth, you say .

References:

http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

営 - MANAGE Your BARRACKS or They'll Catch On Fire


Readings & Meanings:

いとな(む)

エイ

manage, barracks

Common Usage:

営業中

営む

Examples:

ただいま営業中です。

彼の家は、代々酒屋を営んでいる。

Translations:

We're Open (sign on front of a store)

His house has been run as a sake store for generations and generations.

Radicals:

呂 (spine) was part of 官 (government, bureaucracy), which added a roof (宀) to a pictograph of a collection of objects (呂). Then, later, it was merged with (presumably) 火 on top.

Think of the light of torches lighting a collection of buildings, and then think of managing all of those buildings, and then you've got .

References:
http://www.kanjinetworks.com/knetwork/KUANG.html#KUANG20
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

糸 - THREADS Are Small


Readings & Meanings:

いと



thread

Common Usage:



絹糸 (ケンシ)

Examples:

Tシャツのすそから糸が出ている。

絹糸で織った羽織を着る。 (ケンシ)

Translations:

A thread's coming out of the hem of the T-shirt.

I'll wear the silk-woven haori.

Radical:

itself is a radical, used in many, many kanji (see 絹糸 above). It is made up of two parts, 幺 (small thread) and 小 (small).

Picture this kanji as being made up of stitches. It kind of looks like what I might have done with a needle and thread when I was six.

References:

http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

市 - She's Number One in My MARKET


Readings & Meanings:

いち



market, city

Common Usage:

市場(いちば)

市場(しじょう)

_city_

Examples:

築地市場は観光地として有名になってきた。(いちば)

ドル市場は最近動きが激しい。 (しじょう)

広島市はカキの養殖で有名だ。

Translations:

Tsukiji Market has become famous as a sightseeing spot.

The dollar lately has been fluctuating wildly.

Hiroshima City is famous for cultivating oysters.

Radical:

My sources disagree on the parts of . Jim Breen indicates that it is made up of 亠 (nabe lid) and 巾 (cloth, towel, from a pictograph of a towel wrapped around a head).

Kanji Networks suggests that 市 is made up of 止 (stop, straight) and 平 (flat/level), making the argument that sellers congregate on level ground to set up market.

Guys, don't fight.

Perhaps the kanji evolved from 止 and 平, but it seems pretty clear that, now, the radical used is 巾 (Haba group). Kanji Networks group 市 in with the Haba group, so that's an admission in itself.

Important:

Another duplicate kanji combo with different pronunciations and meanings.

いちば is for physical places, like Tsukiji, and like the picture below (沖縄本島市場).

Market SPAM

しじょう is for abstract markets, Wall Street, trading.


References:

Picture: http://www.yenchart.com/Chart-Dollar-Yen.htm
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1S
http://www.kanjinetworks.com/tnetwork/TAG.html#TAG54
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

頂 - I RECEIVE Your Gift and Raise It Above the SUMMIT of My Head


Readings & Meanings:

いただ(く)

チョウ

summit, receive

Common Usage:

頂上

頂き

頂戴

頂く

Examples:

夜明け前に頂上にたどり着いた。

その山の頂きには大仏が立っている。

お手伝いしたから、お小遣い頂戴。

隣の奥さんからたくあんを頂いた。

Translations:

We reached the summit before dawn.

At the summit of that mountain is a big Buddha statue.

Since I helped you, please give me my allowance.

I received a gift of pickled daikon from the wife next door.

Radical:

丁 is the head of a nail driven into an object. It's the phonetic marker, meaning it lends one of its pronunciations to 頂, namely, チョウ. It can also lend the idea of "straight, direct."

頁 is found in 頭, and with good reason; 頁 is a pictogram of a kneeling dude with an oversize, caricature-like head. (I mean, it has its own solar system. HEAD! PANTS! NOW!)

The Kanji Networks online etymology site really hit the nail on the head on this one. Follow this logic:

As per 丁 (Type 1 Phonetic) (straight) + 頁 head → place directly atop the head → place atop → top/summit; prop up → receive; eat (← bow and ceremoniously raise received goods above one's head; compare 承).Ref.

Important:

Caution: hiragana alert. いただきます is said at the beginnings of meals in Japan. It probably came from 頂きます. But, whatever you do, don't write the kanji in this context. Hiragana is standard and necessary here.

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/knetwork/KAT.html#KATx02
http://www.kanjinetworks.com/tnetwork/TANG.html#TANG45
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/i.htm

抱 - EMBRACE: Wrap Your Hands (or Thoughts) around It


Readings & Meanings:

いだ(く)

だく

かか(える)

ホウ

embrace, hold

Common Usage:

抱き合う

抱擁

抱く

抱える

Examples:

15年ぶりの再会でお互い抱き合って喜んだ。

15年ぶりの再会でお互い喜んで抱擁を交わした。

「少年よ、大志を抱け」は、北大のクラーク博士の有名な言葉"Boys, be ambitious!"の訳だ。

彼は最近悩みを抱えているようだ。

Translations:

Meeting for the first time in 15 years, we joyfully embraced each other.

Meeting for the first time in 15 years, we joyfully exchanged embraces with each other.

"Boys, embrace ambition!" is the translation of Hokkaido University's Dr. (William) Clark's words, "Boys, be ambitious!"

Lately he seems to be carrying a heavy load/to be having problems.

Radical:

We've got the 手 (te) radical on the left of 包 (wrap). Wrap with your hands. Embrace. Got it.

Important:

Try not to mix up 抱く and 抱く.

...Okay, right, they look the same. They are the same kanji. But, in spoken Japanese, they are different: いだく and だく.

いだく is never for human-to-human hugging. You can use it for embracing ideas, dreams, ambitions. You can use it for cuddling kittens, dogs, small pets or things (not babies, though).

だく is for human-to-human embraces... of various kinds... (blush). Just watch some seedy J-dramas to find some examples. Buut, it can be nice, friendly hugging, as well as cradling an infant.

References:

http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

痛 - Trapped in a World of PAIN


Readings & Meanings:

いた(い)

いた(む)

ツウ

pain

Common Usage:

痛い

頭痛

痛み止め

Example:

痛いよ!

朝から頭痛がするので、痛み止めを飲んだ。

Translations:

That huuurts!

I had a headache since this morning, so I took a painkiller.

Radicals:

やまいだれ:


I know it looks like 广 (まだれ), but it's quite distinct. Yamaidare is always used for sickness, disease, bad stuff. Just look at Jim Breen's page full of kanji with the yamaidare radical: http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1S
It reads like a doctor's questionnaire: carbuncle, colic, wart, measles, "scabby eruption"?(!)

The other part of this kanji isn't as interesting: the マ variant of 人 on top of the kanji for business. The kanji alone (甬) means narrow road with walls on the sides. Trapped in pain, I guess?

Just remember, whenever you see this:
watch out!

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/tnetwork/TUNG.html#TUNG13
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

板 - Are You Behind the BOARD or Opposite to It?

Readings & Meanings:

いた

ハン , バン

board, plank

Common Usage:

板前

まな板

看板娘

板挟み

Examples:

板前さんのまな板は大切です。

カフェの看板娘を見に行く。

嫁と舅の間で板挟みになる。

Translations:

The sushi chef's cutting board is very important.

I'm going to go and see that pretty cafe girl.

Between my wife and my mother-in-law, I'm between a rock and a hard place.

Bonus:

板前さん is the proper way to refer to the sushi chef. Though literally it means "behind the counter", it is a term of respect. It takes many years to become an Itamae-san, decades perhaps.

Also, the cutting board is very, very important. It's a sacred piece of equipment.

There was one Iron Chef episode where Bobby Flay, an American, stood on his cutting board after he was finished cooking, and Chef Morimoto was horrified. All the Japanese people could say was "Flay is not a chef" because he stood on his cutting board. See Wikipedia for more useless details.

Radicals:

Look on the right. 反 is a thin sheet of wood curving back on itself; from this we get "opposite" as seen in 反対. Look closer, and you'll see mata, the radical 又, inside the cliff radical. But that's looking too closely. Just get back to the original pictograph of a thin sheet of wood.

Then look on the left. 木 emphasizes the wood idea. Thus, means plank.

Extra Bonus:

The 看板娘 idea may be sexist, but it's still used in small restaurants and shops. Whether it works or not... well, I must admit I've been beguiled in my time by a smiling かんばんむすめ or two...

References:

http://www.kanjinetworks.com/pnetwork/PUAN.html#PUAN18
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/u.htm

忙 - Being This BUSY Is Like Dying in Your Heart

(picture coming later)

Readings & Meanings:

いそが (しい)

ぼう

busy

Common Usage:

忙しい

多忙

Examples:

最近、忙しい?

多忙のため返事が遅くなり申し訳なく存じます。

Translations:

Have you been busy lately?

Excuse me for the belated reply, but I've been busy.*

Bonus:

New radical: Bo 亡. It comes from a Chinese pictograph of a person behind a vertical, sloping screen (check out http://www.kanjinetworks.com/mnetwork/MANG.html#MANG01 if you don't believe me). In other words, the person is behind the veil. In other words, they're dead. This radical is for death.

Look at the left side, though. What's that look like? 小? I know, it's similar, but wrong. 心 simplified and squished to fit on the left is what that is. So, business = heart-death. I can relate to that. But really, when your heart/mind is in turmoil, you aren't in a state to think clearly, and that's what this kanji is trying to relate.

References:

*http://eow.alc.co.jp/多忙/UTF-8/
http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/kanji/i.htm

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Innovations

I've added two possible sections to my entries: おやじガグ and Review. Oyaji-gagu is a section for puns. If you have the dubious fortune to get the joke, then you will probably remember the kanji better for it. Review will try and jog your memory about previously-learned kanji.

Next up:

忙 + 板 - 痛 = 抱 * 頂