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Re: Japanese "good", consonant clusters etc.

From:Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>
Date:Monday, January 5, 2004, 22:31
Axiem wrote:
> Every time I try to deconstruct kanji this way, I get reprimanded (for lack > of a better term) by my sensei-tachi and tutor. According to them, a single > kanji cannot be broken down further into meanings. So the "musu" in "musuko" > (son; "ko" means "child") does not actually mean self-heart, even though it > is made of the kanji for "self" and "heart". This makes sense; "mai" (from > "mainichi") means "every", yet also is part of "umi" ("sea"). There really > is no correlation.
Not synchronically, of course. But, from a historical perspective, that was the origin. And there actually *is* a connection between the "every" and "sea" kanji - the sea is "all" of the "water"! :-) With musuko no musu, the original meaning was "breath". The "self" radical originally meant "nose" (it acquired the meaning "self" from the Oriental practice of pointing at ones nose to indicate oneself), and "heart" was used metaphorically as something like "essence of life", so the "essence of life" that goes thru your "nose" is your breath. It's not clear how the meaning of "son" was acquired. I'm surprised your sensei would object to such analyses - even in cases where they are not historically justified (like, east does not actually come from "sun rising thru the trees"), they're much easier to learn that way than by memorizing them as arbitrary collections of elements!
> So, I think some kanji did arise from pictographs and combinations of > pictographs, but I don't think so for all of them.
Some are from pictures, some are abstractions (like "above"), some are semantic compounds (like, woman+child in _suki_), some are phonetic-semantic combinations, where one element indicated the pronunciation, *in Chinese*, and the other gave an idea of the pronunciation. -- "There's no such thing as 'cool'. Everyone's just a big dork or nerd, you just have to find people who are dorky the same way you are." - overheard ICQ: 18656696 AIM Screen-Name: NikTaylor42