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Kanji for June 14, 2005 - Animal Kanji Series #1 - Kanji of the Day [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Kanji of the Day

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Kanji for June 14, 2005 - Animal Kanji Series #1 [Jun. 14th, 2005|04:11 pm]
Kanji of the Day

kanjioftheday

[rikoshi]

コ、 きつね

KO; kitsune

fox



Some examples:
狐憑き = kitsune-tsuki - fox (spirit) possession
狐の嫁入り = kitsune no yomeiri - sunshower (lit. fox's wedding)
狐疑逡巡 = kogishunjun - hesitation and indecision

Not to be confused with:
= KO; hito(ri) - alone
= SO; nera(u) - to aim


A great many animal kanji are not on the jōyō kanji (everyday use) list, but they can be fun and useful to know. Very common animals, like 'dog' and 'cat' and 'fish' are on there, but even something as non-exotic as a fox becomes one of those kanji that you need to track down on your own.

I'm not sure where this kanji comes from. The two parts are kemono-hen (the 'dog' radical on the left), and 瓜, which means melon. I don't think that the 'melon' part if phoenetic, either, because in Chinese the two characters aren't pronounced very similarly (if someone who speaks Chinese could confirm that). However, both 孤 and 狐 are pronounced KO in Japanese, so there may be some link after all. Edit: according to brownkuma, the 'melon' portion is phonetic, based in ancient Chinese pronunciations.

One thing about this kanji that I've noted is that it's really hard to write it and make it look nice. Since this character is in my own (fake) name, I write it quite a bit, and even still, a lot of the time, it comes out looking rather crap. As a result, though, when it's written well, with nice calligraphy, it tends to look quite nice indeed.

There's not much to say about the character itself. As with a lot of animal kanji, the meaning of the character isn't too hard to grasp, and so any compounds will be pretty self-explanatory.
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Comments:
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[User Picture]From: rikoshi
2005-06-14 11:30 pm (UTC)
Well, broken in halves, the 狐疑 part means 'indecision' (the characters themselves mean 'fox' and 'doubt'). 逡巡 similarly means 'hesitation' or 'indecision.'

Technically, I think that this qualifies as a 四字熟語 yoji-jukugo (4-character idiom), which I'm guessing is the same as the chengyu in Chinese, although I'm not aware of any specific proverbial meaning behind the character combination.
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[User Picture]From: brownkuma
2005-06-15 07:38 am (UTC)
Well, most 四字熟語 came from ancient chinese or japanese poetries and literatures, which has a very specific format, including a phase composed of four kanjis; or, in this case,
it was composed by two words that has exactly the same meaning.
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[User Picture]From: rikoshi
2005-06-15 07:43 am (UTC)
One of my favorite 四字熟語 is 龍頭蛇尾.
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[User Picture]From: rockopup
2005-06-15 09:26 am (UTC)
Would 龍 be the traditional form of 竜? i have this stigma for learning the classical forms of kanji and Chinese characters... is it also OK to switch between the normal and classical characters in Japanese text?
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[User Picture]From: brownkuma
2005-06-15 12:48 pm (UTC)
Well, I believe there is also a system in Japanese that's kinda simillar to traditional/simplified chinese ;3
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[User Picture]From: rikoshi
2005-06-15 02:24 pm (UTC)
竜 is the modern Japanese version of 龍, although 龍 is still in use, as well (as a point of note, 竜 is not used in Chinese, to my knowledge). For the most part, the characters are identical in meaning and usage, and my Japanese IME brings up both 竜頭蛇尾 and 龍頭蛇尾 as choices when I type in りゅうとうだび.

The only time it's usually not okay to switch out these characters for another are when they're in a person's or a place's name (or if you're quoting/citing a source that uses one character or the other).
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[User Picture]From: brownkuma
2005-06-15 04:06 pm (UTC)
Well, 竜 is used in chinese, but it doesn't mean dragon though. It's a kind of huge tortoise, which is mentioned in 西遊記 and other chinese literatures.
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[User Picture]From: rikoshi
2005-06-15 04:17 pm (UTC)
Would this have anything to do with 玄武 or anything? Or is that a different mythology?
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[User Picture]From: brownkuma
2005-06-15 05:28 pm (UTC)
玄武 is actually a hybid of snake and tortoise, the symbol of north, water, long living and black. It's a grand creature in eastern mythology. And 竜 in chinese mythology is more common, just some huge (usually larger then a table) and white, and sometimes wise tortoise ;3 Actually you can see the bottom half of 竜 comes from 亀, and the original 龍 does not contain that part. However, there is a syntax phenomenon in chinese called "通假字", which allows you to use other kanjis to replace some hard-to-write ones. "通字" means to use a kanji to replace another if they reads the same, and "假字" means to replace a kanji with another which writes alike. That's why japanese alphatable is called 假名, since they looks like specific kanjis. 竜 can be used as the 假字 of 龍 in chinese. And before the current simplified chinese standard, aka simplified chinese version 4, in v1 and v2, both 竜 and 龙 can be used to replace 龍 in traditional chinese, but in v3, 竜 is no longer used as 龍, and serves its meaning of giant tortoise creature only.
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[User Picture]From: brownkuma
2005-06-15 10:14 am (UTC)
well, in chinese it's 虎頭蛇尾, thought the meaning is the same ;3 I should add that two words with extreamly opposite meaning can compose 四字熟語 too ;3
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[User Picture]From: deathbytamarind
2005-06-14 11:26 pm (UTC)
What other critters are on tap for this animal kanji series?
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[User Picture]From: rikoshi
2005-06-14 11:27 pm (UTC)
I'll take requests!
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[User Picture]From: deathbytamarind
2005-06-14 11:28 pm (UTC)
I like birds. :)
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[User Picture]From: rikoshi
2005-06-14 11:30 pm (UTC)
Good to know! I'll keep that in mind (since I'm pretty mammal-biased myself).
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[User Picture]From: samiitiger
2005-06-15 06:09 am (UTC)
Mmm... *wonders if the kanji for tiger is on tap*
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[User Picture]From: rikoshi
2005-06-15 07:37 am (UTC)
Naturally!
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[User Picture]From: samiitiger
2005-06-15 07:40 am (UTC)
*grins* Yay!
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[User Picture]From: dermotmacflann
2005-06-15 02:20 am (UTC)
I am a 赤狐人 (shakkojin). ^.^
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[User Picture]From: rikoshi
2005-06-15 07:41 am (UTC)
僕も赤狐人です!
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[User Picture]From: taren_
2005-06-15 04:19 am (UTC)
According to my Japanese teacher who knows way too much about everything, melondog (my personal slang term for kitsune/fox) comes from the fact that in Chinese (probably ANCIENT Chinese), fox was distinguished from melon by adding the animal radical to it. Hence, "animal that sounds (is pronounced) like melon."

The kemono-hen is a bitch to write, yessiree, but with a bit of practice and stroke-order fudging, I manage to do it rather well now. First, I do the down-left stroke at the top, then do the big swipe down the middle, then make a small branch on the side for the third stroke. Probably wrong, but psh. At least it doesn't look like te-hen (for 'hand') that way.
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[User Picture]From: rikoshi
2005-06-15 07:36 am (UTC)
Actuallly, the kemono-hen isn't the part I have trouble making look nice -- it's the 'melon' side that tends to come out looking ugly, especially since it's made narrower with the lefthand radical.

By the way, the stroke order you have there for kemono-hen is indeed correct.
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[User Picture]From: samiitiger
2005-06-15 07:42 am (UTC)
Bentley-sensei, for all of his random information usually has some interesting historical notes about the kanji and Japan in general. *nods a bit* Good times, indeed.
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[User Picture]From: rikoshi
2005-06-15 07:44 am (UTC)
It's the random little useless factual tidbits that make learning fun, IMHO.
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From: yoteboy
2005-06-15 05:11 am (UTC)
Kitsunetsuki. I remember reading that this is basically a mental disorder in Japan related to thinking you're (possessed by) a kitsune. I'm guessing the meaning isn't so narrow, and applies to possession by a kitsune in general rather than only something resembling being a foxfur? :P
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[User Picture]From: rikoshi
2005-06-15 07:38 am (UTC)
I was actually just talking about this mental disorder not even a week ago! That's pretty cool!

But yeah, the term itself literally means "fox possession" in the mythological/folklorical sense of the term, the belief in which is the cause of that mental disorder.
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[User Picture]From: brownkuma
2005-06-15 05:55 am (UTC)
Well, 瓜 in modern mandarin reads "gua" and 狐 is "hu", 孤 is "gu". However, Chinese itself experienced tremendous changes through a long time period of 5000 years, so most chinese kanjis don't read the same as they used to be. in ancient Chinese 瓜, 孤 and 狐 read as "gu", with a tone that no longer used in modern mandarin. But that only applies to mandarin though. In wu (the dialect i speak) 瓜 and 孤 still read as "gu" and 狐 reads as "vu".
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[User Picture]From: rikoshi
2005-06-15 07:38 am (UTC)
Oh, excellent! Thanks for clearing that up!
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[User Picture]From: zigguratbuilder
2005-07-14 02:59 pm (UTC)
What happened to the Kanji of the Day? Even if not "daily" I was hoping for more of a "once every week/two weeks" thing. :-)

Thanks!

-Andy
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2013-02-17 08:10 am (UTC)
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