Monday, July 11, 2011

Conductor, Literally.

I learned the word for conductor today and the Kanji use was quite amusing to me.

Japanese:  指揮者
Reading: shikisha
Meaning: conductor (musical)
Literally: finger-swinging-person

It can't get more to the point than that :)
I love Kanji!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Rickshaw Pulling Chinaman...

... or an umbrella holding car riding Englishman?

We all know that in Japanese there are a lot of words that sound the same but have a different meaning. Usually also they are written differently.
But usually, in my short experience, those words are compound words which are written using several Kanji letters, and so when other letters are used it sounds the same but has a different meaning.

Recently I stumbled upon two words that use only one Kanji letter and have different meanings using different Kanji letters. But the different meaning in this case is not extremely different, you can see how it is related to the other meaning and in the car case, can also see by the Kanji how the meaning changes.

Reading: kasa
Meaning: umbrella

Reading: kasa
Meaning: a conical hat (east-asian style)

Now, considering an umbrella is pretty much a conical hat that you hold with a stick instead of actually putting on your head, I can see how those got to be the same word.

Here is the other one:

Reading: kuruma
Meaning: car

Reading: kuruma
Meaning: rickshaw

Now here it's also pretty understandable how the same sounding word would be used for a car and a rickshaw as rickshaw is kind of an old style "human propelled" car. And that is also why I liked the Kanji for this which is exactly the kanji for a car preceded by the Kanji for a man.


Me like Kanji Math!