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Kanji of the Day

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Kanji for May 20, 2005 [May. 20th, 2005|07:39 pm]
Kanji of the Day

Here is today's Kanji:

(KA / nani / nan)
English definition - what?

Stroke order
Information courtesy of The Kanji Site.

Some examples:
= nani - what?
何時 = nanji - what time?
何分 = nanpun - how many minutes?
何人 = nannin - how many people?

Not to be confused with:
= KA - possible, approve
= KA / kawa - river
= KA / ni - load
= DOU / ona(ji) - the same

Sorry for not being so timely with these updates. I swear I'll do better next week!

Today's Kanji is fairly useful in every day speech, or at least I would assume so. To ask a question like "what?" is very common. It can also be used in many different situations, as you can see in the examples above.
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Kanji for May 18, 2005 [May. 18th, 2005|05:28 pm]
Kanji of the Day

Here is today's Kanji:

(SAN / yama)
English definition - mountain

Stroke order
Information courtesy of The Kanji Site.

Some examples:
= yama - mountain
山田さん = yamada-san - Mr. Yamada
火山 = kazan - volcano

Not to be confused with:
= SHUTSU / da(su) / de(ru) - to leave, go out

Now you see a bit of the combinations of kanji. The one posted on Monday represents fire while today's represents mountain. Put them together, and you get fire mountain, or a volcano, which is "kazan." Pretty cool, eh? This one also looks a bit like a mountain range if you think about it, with three peaks and a base. Pretty easy to remember.
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Kanji for May 16, 2005 [May. 16th, 2005|04:17 pm]
Kanji of the Day

Here is today's Kanji:

(KA / hi)
English definition - fire

Stroke order
Information courtesy of The Kanji Site.

Some examples:
= hi - fire
火よう日 = kayoubi - Tuesday
花火 = hanabi - fireworks

Not to be confused with:
= JIN / hito - person
= SUI / mizu - water

I like this one. It's simple and looks nice, and if you look at it closely, it sort of looks like a campfire with flames coming off of it. The stroke order is a bit weird for this one, but it's easily remembered.
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Kanji for May 12, 2005 [May. 12th, 2005|06:38 pm]
Kanji of the Day

Here is today's Kanji:

(JIN / NIN / hito)
English definition - person

Stroke order
Information courtesy of The Kanji Site.

Some examples:
? = hito - person
?? = hitori - one person
?? = sannin - three people
??? = otoko no hito - man
??? = nihonjin - Japanese person
??? = gaikokujin - foreigner
?? = jinsei - life
?? = jinkou - population

Not to be confused with:
? = NYUU / hai(ru) - enter

Over the next few days and probably next couple weeks I'm going to be reverting to easier kanji for study. These kanji are the ones I first learned and the ones I think are the best for starting out with. I feel they really give a sense for what kanji is about and how it is used as a written language.

Today's kanji means person, and if you look at it, it kind of looks like a body with two legs sticking out. It's useful even in the basic sense. Look at the examples above and you'll see what I mean.
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Kanji for May 11, 2005 [May. 11th, 2005|05:05 pm]
Kanji of the Day

Here is today's Kanji:

(SHUTSU / da(su) / de(ru))
English definition - leave, put out

Stroke order
Information courtesy of The Kanji Site.

Some examples: (I'm using Babelfish right now to do this, so bear with me)
出る = deru - go out (intransitive)
出す = dasu - send out, take out (transitive)
出口 = deguchi - exit
出発 = shuppatsu - departure
出世 = shusse - success in life

Not to be confused with:
= SAN / yama - mountain

I know it's probably a bad method to remember it, but it looks like a leaf to me. Leaf sounds almost exactly like leave. So that might be a good way for people to remember it. Pretty simple stroke count too.
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Kanji for May 10, 2005 [May. 10th, 2005|05:40 pm]
Kanji of the Day

Here is today's Kanji:

(CHOU / naga(i))
English definition - chief, long

Stroke order
Information courtesy of The Kanji Site.

Some examples: (I'm using Babelfish right now to do this, so bear with me)
長い = nagai - long
校長 = kouchou - headmaster
社長 = shachou - company president
長男 = chounan - eldest son

This one's a bit complex and might take a while for me to learn, but it makes sense in it's meaning. It can mean long or a chief position, which can also designated by a length of time if you think about it. Not really any mnemonics I can think of though.
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Using Radicals to Tell Kanji Apart [May. 10th, 2005|10:27 am]
Kanji of the Day

It is perhaps the greatest fallacy of Beginner Japanese: kanji are magical ideographs that are comprised of little pieces that then tell the reader what they mean. So goes the classic example:

"Aha! So if I have a tree 木, two trees is woods 林, and three trees is forest 森 ! And if you take a person 人 and have up against the tree 木, it means he's resting 休 !"

Then, of course, you start to learn more kanji, and you find out that the symbol for surprise 驚 is made up of respect 敬 and horse 馬, which causes your entire world to come crashing down around itself.

Fear not! While the 2,000 basic kanji you need to know will still probably be 2,000 manifestations of your worst nightmares for your initiation into Japanese, know that, sometimes, knowing the pieces of kanji can, in fact, help you.

The pieces that make up a kanji are called radicals. These all tend to have names, but most people (Rikky-sensei included) don't know all of them. And while there are something like 87 bazillion kanji, there are only a few dozen radicals that you'll ever have to worry about.

Perhaps the best thing about learning radicals is that, after a while, you don't need to worry about memorizing stroke order -- you'll just be able to discern what it is after having learned your first, oh, several hundred or so. Still, being able to write a kanji doesn't help you know--or remember--what it means, unless you can finagle it from the parts.

It isn't always intuitive (just think of the 'surprise' example above). When faced with two similar looking kanji, though, you can use these bits to help you tell them apart, especially if you already know what they mean.

Let's take the following two kanji, for example:

You might almost mistake these kanji for being identical if the person writing them had bad handwriting. But by being able to tell what the lefthand radical in each of these characters is, it's simpler to tell them apart.

犭 is kemono-hen, the so-called 'dog radical.' More often than just meaning 'dog,' though, it's found as a radical in the kanji for many different animals.

扌 is te-hen, the 'hand radical.' As you might expect, this character does in fact show up in words having to do with things that involve the hands; these tend to be verbs, very often.

Now, if you don't know either of the above two kanji, but I told you that one of them meant 'to draw' and the other meant 'cat,' would you be able to figure out which is which? It might only help if you know those meanings, but once you do, distinguishing between the two is a lot simpler, despite the similarity, if you know the radicals.

Even if you don't necessarily know what a radical means, per se (because many radicals do defy meaning), if you know at least one in a set, you can figure out the difference. Knowing that 心 is the kanji for 'heart' makes it a lot easier to see the visual difference between 恋人 koibito and 変人 henjin, and it definitely makes it easier to tell which one of these two means 'lover' and which one means 'weirdo.'

Every so often, you'll be confronted with a kanji that astounds and confounds, like 驚. Don't lose heart, though. There is a method to the madness, at least some of the time, and if you know how to find it, it will make things easier as you learn.
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Kanji of May 9th [May. 9th, 2005|11:44 pm]
Kanji of the Day

Well, just realised that no one has been posting here for 2 days.
Here, today's kanji is kinda useful:

Japanese: きみkimi/くんkun
Chinese: jun (sounds like "dream", actually)

君 has several meanings. when used as a noun, it means:
1. Emperor or king. This is the very original meaning when this kanji is created. for example:
君主(くんしゅ): king
君位(くんい): throne
君臣(くんしん): King and his lieges
君臨(くんりん): regnant
君が代(きみがよ): Well, this is an interesting word, cos literally, this word means "我皇治世(The king rules his land)". It is a peom on a book called 和漢朗詠集(わかんろうえいしゅう, Poetry Anthology of Japanese and Chinese, written by 藤原公任(ふじわらきんとう)in year 1013), And now it's the national song of japan.
When used as "king", 君 is used more written languages. well, usually in spoken japanese, people more intend to use "帝王(ていおう)", or, even simplified, "王(おう)" instead of 君. There is a word in Japanese, "帝王切開(ていおうせっかい)". You already know what 帝王 means. And I'll tell you, 切開 means dissect. You can guess what does this word mean for now. And I'll leave the answer in the end of this journal.
2. Lord, master.
主君(しゅくん): (My) lord,master. Becareful, don't mess this word up with "君主" above ;3
3. To respect your seniority, you can add 君 after their titles. and this time, you should read it as "ぎみ(gimi)".
父君(ちちぎみ): Father
姉君(あねぎみ): Elder sister
You can also use ~の君(~no kimi) as well.
夫の君(せのきみ): husband
*Important: The following usages of the word should only used by males! Although in modern japan, more and more girls begin to use 君 like that as well, but it's still very impolite by many middle age. So if you are a girl, use it at your own risk!
4. You. Used by males to call those who are younger or at the same age as him.
これは君に上げる。This is for you.
あ、君でしたか。Oh, it's you.
君達: [plural] You. "~達(~たち)" is a way to make a plural word in japanese. you can replace "~" with most of the pronouns.
5. Put behind someone's name to show respect to him. The person should be younger or around your age. I think you guys should be already familiar with this. But remember, you should never use it after your own name!

Ok, time for the answer to the quiz:
帝王切開: Caesarean operation. Yup, Caesar, that's the 帝王 here ;3
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Amusingly Obscure Kanji - 5/6 [May. 6th, 2005|11:50 am]
Kanji of the Day

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(RI / kozato(i))

So, I thought I'd do weekly entries focusing on kanji that are sort of fun to know without necessarily being the sort of kanji that you need to know. Sometimes, random knowledge can be cool!

This kanji above is very near and dear to me (some of you probably recognize it already and are shaking your heads in disdain). This is the character to which I owe my namesake, Rikoshi.

Sensei shall now tell you a story.

Ever since I began studying Japanese, I've been a total kanji nut. I've always been fascinated by them, and I think that the way that Chinese characters made the transition into Japanese has led to some really nifty 'tricks' that one can do with kanji. Sometimes, out of boredom, or even just intentionally, I would sift through lists of kanji and check out ones that caught my eye.

This character above was one such character. At its base is 利 ri, which means 'advantageous' or 'beneficial' (it also means 'interest' in a monetary sense). The radical on the left is 忄 risshin-ben; this is an adapted version of the character 心 kokoro, and it signifies things having to do with 'heart' or 'emotion.'

As soon as I saw this character, I thought it was a really neat combination of parts, and I also that it looked really pretty (even though it can be a pain in the ass to write by hand). The meaning listed in the dictionary was clever. There's a word for 'clever' in Japanese that's usually written as 利口 rikou, but is sometimes seen as 悧巧.

One of the other things that I love to do is create names. I'm a writer, and coming up with names is always difficult, but I love the challenge. When I saw this 'ri' character, I knew that I had to somehow form a name from it. I decided that it should be a Japanese male name, one that was invented but that still sounded 'real.' For those of you who don't know, a great many Japanese male names are three syllables long and end in '-shi' (Hiroshi, Takeshi, Satoshi, Kiyoshi, Takashi, Tsuyoshi, Yasushi, and so on). So, this left with with a 'Ri' and a 'shi' for two of the three syllables. A name ending in '-rishi' doesn't sound very natural in Japanese (and 利子 rishi is the Japanese word for 'interest,' again). Therefore, I was looking at 'Ri__shi' for a name. 'Ko' sounded like a good syllable to fill the gap... but what character would be good to use?

In the end, the answer struck me as being so painfully obvious that I was surprised I hadn't thought of it sooner: 悧狐志.

Broken down, this comes out to:

RI: 悧 - clever, crafty
KO: 狐 - fox
SHI: 志 - will, ambition

Going by a sort of classical-type reading of this name as if it were a phrase, you get something like 「悧い狐の志」 kozatoi kitsune no kokorozashi, which I like to translate as "the ambition of the sly fox."

This kanji isn't in common use, and as far as I can tell, it's not used a whole lot in Chinese, either. In fact, a lot of people I showed it to initially thought I was trying to write 痢 ri, which means 'diarrhea.' I did, however, come across some learned folk who were also fond of kanji and hanzi, and they assured me that it did exist and that it did mean 'clever,' as I thought.

Interestingly, people also noted that while it does mean 'clever,' it also has a sort of 'negative' connotation to it, in some regards. That's where I tend to use words like 'sly' or 'crafty' or 'cunning,' which are are still positive attributes that nevertheless make people think twice, sometimes.

The こざと.い kozato(i) reading of this kanji is evidently very old and rare, to the point where most dictionaries don't even have it listed as a reading (the word itself has dropped out of modern Japanese use, so you probably don't ever have to worry about knowing it). Still, I think it has a nice ring to it, and it's reminiscent (and probably etymologically related) with words like 目敏い mezatoi, 'sharp-sighted'; 耳ざとい mimizatoi, 'keen-eared'; あざとい azatoi, 'clever, sly'.
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Kanji for May 6, 2005 [May. 6th, 2005|09:49 am]
Kanji of the Day

Here is today's Kanji:

(RAI / ku(ru) / kita(su) / kita(ru))
English definition - come

Stroke order
Information courtesy of The Kanji Site.

I skipped a bit of the order to do this one, but I really wanted to do it. In truth, I'm not sure why. I think the basic shape and look of it fascinates me. It's very similar to other kanji, but it also has a style all its own. Something about seeing its meaning tells me that it has the possibility to be seen quite frequently, but I'm not exactly sure. Anyone care to shed some light on it?
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