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Kanji for June 2, 2005 - First Person Pronoun Series #1 - Kanji of the Day [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Kanji of the Day

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Kanji for June 2, 2005 - First Person Pronoun Series #1 [Jun. 2nd, 2005|01:16 pm]
Kanji of the Day



シ わたくし わたし*

SHI; watakushi; watashi*

private, I

Some examples:
私立 = shiritsu - private (as in the opposite of 'public')
私学 = shigaku - private college/university (short for 私立学校)
私事 = shiji/watakushigoto - personal affairs

Not to be confused with:
= RI, ki(ku) - advantage, benefit
= WA - peace, harmony; Japan

If you've studied Chinese, you're probably used to 我 being used for "I." There are many, many, many, many different first-person pronouns in Japanese. I'll be going over the most common ones over the next few entries (so please don't try to overload people with different pronoun choices in the comments!), and so I figured I'd start with the big and the basic: watashi.

Any beginning Japanese textbook will list watashi for "I," with the exception of some older books which might list it as watakushi. The latter is the 'official' kun-yomi of the character, though this pronunciation is largely outdated, and rarely used in common speech today outside of some compounds (like watakushigoto above) or if you're trying to be exceedingly formal.

For the most part, watashi is somewhat formal-sounding, but not overly stiff. It's used more by women than by men, but if you're a traveling gaijin in Japan, you don't need to feel gender conscious about using it. Beginners of the language are strongly advised to stick with watashi for their first-person pronoun, regardless of gender, and especially regardless of what they may have leared of other common pronouns through anime and the like.

[User Picture]From: rikoshi
2005-06-02 09:10 pm (UTC)
Feel free to ask questions! That's what we're here for, and all. :)

(But yeah, my only concern is that I know that lots of people are excited to share what they know, failing to realize (or at least to account for) the fact that an overabundance of information can sometimes hurt more than it helps. That's why I'm going through these one at a time.)
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[User Picture]From: ferricide
2005-06-02 09:36 pm (UTC)
sometimes it's the other info in the post that tells me something i've been wanting to know:

和 = WA - peace, harmony; Japan

every little bit helps...

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[User Picture]From: rikoshi
2005-06-02 09:44 pm (UTC)
Had you stumbled across that one before?
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[User Picture]From: ferricide
2005-06-02 09:48 pm (UTC)
i saw it a lot in japan and i had started to figure out that sometimes it means japan, but i was too lazy to look it up (it wasn't exactly pressing.)
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[User Picture]From: rikoshi
2005-06-02 10:07 pm (UTC)
和 is used in abbreviated form to mean Japan, due to the fact that old name for Japan, Yamato, was written as 大和.

As I'm sure you know, 日本 is the typical way to write Japan, and in the newspaper and such, 日 is used in abbreviations (like 日米関係 nichibei-kankei, Japanese-U.S. relations).

For actual words and stuff, though, 和 finds its way into things meaning 'Japanese.' Good examples are 和食 washoku (Japanese food), 和服 wafuku (Japanese-style clothing), and 英和翻訳 eiwa-hon'yaku (English-to-Japanese translation).

I think I should probably do an entry on this kanji pretty soon, actually!
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[User Picture]From: ferricide
2005-06-02 10:18 pm (UTC)
wow, cool. thanks for the info. ^_^
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