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Cutest Kanji Literal meanings

Discussion in 'All Things Japanese' started by nahadef, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. nahadef

    nahadef Rendering orthography

    This is going to only work with foreigners who've learned a fair amount of kanji. If you have than surely you've noticed some silly terms used to define words. I'm thinking to do some illustrations, and wondering if anyone here has ones that seemed particularly silly or cute to them, regardless of the etymology of it. For example:

    窶禿倪?禿ャナスq kinoko, mushrooms. tree-field-baby
    窶ケテ看スq tamago, egg. ball-baby
    (I know there are other kanji used for those, but I prefer the cute ones)
    ナスツオ窶禿岩?卍ケ shichimenchou, turkey. seven-face-bird

    I have a bunch more, but not off of the top of my head. If you have ideas, please share!
  2. Half-n-Half

    Half-n-Half 先輩

    児販機 Oh wait...
  3. masaegu

    masaegu 先輩

    Who would ever write 窶堋ォ窶堙娯?堋アツ as 窶禿倪?禿ャナスq besides you?

    What is really silly is the overuse of kanji by quite a few Japanese-learners.
  4. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

    Finally! A Japanese person who disproves the stereotype about Japanese always appreciating anything we do in an attempt to learn their language.
  5. nahadef

    nahadef Rendering orthography

    Wow. You really missed the point.

    Let's go back to post one and reread it:
    I want to collect interesting kanji for illustrations. You know, like, pictures? So kanji that conjure a picture? Not talk about how kinoko is written at the supermarket. There are tons of kanji for words that are never used (and of course some that are), but it's very interesting to me to see what the some of the literal meanings are. Not to say that I'm going to write きのこ as 木野子 when I write mushroom in Japanese, as I often do (like on my all-kanji Japanese grocery list).

    But I appreciate that you couldn't offer anything useful, and instead were just a presumptuous dick about why I started the topic, even if the explanation was included in the first post! Thanks for telling me what is really silly.

    ---------- Post added at 22:00 ---------- Previous post was at 21:55 ----------

    I never found it the case. I found Japanese to be supportive in an inverse amount to how good you speak. When all you can say is, hello, thanks, and where's the toilet, the praise is overwhelming! Once you have conversations, the praise dwindles, and you become a lot less cute.
  6. Mark of Zorro

    Mark of Zorro 先輩

    馬鹿(baka) Is it a horse-deer, a deer-horse, or a deer and a horse together? I don't know, but its stoopid!

    茸(kinoko) An ear under a leaf?

    薬 (kusuri) Fun under a leaf?

    農薬 (noyaku) Farm drugs.

    水商売 (mizushoubai) water trade. I sure long for the days when it made sense, because surely back then sex flowed like water!
  7. nekojita

    nekojita Moderator
    Staff Member Moderator

    To be fair to masaegu, your original post did come off a bit 'tee hee, Japanese people call a mushroom 'tree-field-baby', which is like if somebody tried to tell me English was silly because we thought a きのこ was some sort of room full of mush. 子 is more 'child' than baby (ignoring the fact that 'small thing' is probably a more appropriate meaning in a lot of cases), so it was almost like you were going out of your way to make きのこ sound cute/silly.

    The real etymology can be a lot more interesting, actually - apparently in 七面鳥 doesn't literally mean 'seven face' (see here ) but is related to the way turkeys change colour, and possibly from a term meaning someone whose moods change a lot and/or a localised term for アジサイ which has a similar range of colours.

    Similarly, 馬鹿 is 当て字, I think (used for pronunciation, not meaning), although there are some amusing folk etymologies about it meaning someone so dumb they can't tell the difference between a horse and a deer, or similar.

    In 茸 and 薬 the "grass" radical is a general meaning indicator (mushrooms grouped with plants, most early medicines were plant-based). The other parts could be there for sound not meaning, or possibly 楽 is there in the meaning 楽になる.

    According to 語源由来辞典 the 水 in 水商売 could come from a couple of places, but it might have referred to 流水 in businesses where the 'flow' of money was inconsistent.

    (Really not seeing how 農薬 is any different than 'agrichemical')

    Some words I like which use interesting kanji combinations:
    秋刀魚 (さんま)
    帆立 (ほたて)
    雀蜂 (すずめばち) - seriously the most evil looking creatures in existence. I love this word.
    梅雨 (つゆ)
  8. nahadef

    nahadef Rendering orthography

    Thanks for your update. I wrote seven-face-bird because I've heard it so many times from Japanese trying to tell me what turkey is in English. And it is cute too.
  9. Toritoribe

    Toritoribe 禁漁期
    Staff Member Moderator

    As you can see in Google search results for instance, there are so many people who actully use 窶禿倪?禿ャナスq. You just don't know it.

    I like 窶禿カ窶杯窶ケ窶コ shishamo, since the etymology of it is not just from the shape of the fish.

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