From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Kanji Mastery—Radical 41 (Inch)

[a] Inching RF
This little character packs a serious punch in the Sino-Japanese lexical arena. Meaning "inch," at least according to traditional Japanese measurements, this "radical" has found its way into at least a dozen centrally important words in Japanese. It is not every character that has its own folk story, either, but this one does. As you will see in the combinations below, it is often used in rather imprecise, everyday, or "cultural measurements," such as a "brief letter" or "a little bit." A careful study of the character combinations using "inch" will give you a good sense of how various kanji "fit" together.

Radical 41
Chinese (Mandarin): cun1
Chinese (Cantonese):xxx
Japanese (On reading): スン sun
Japanese (Kun readings): n/a

Selections from The New Nelson Japanese-English Character Dictionary.
Radical 41
Sun (the Japanese inch). At right: sunzukuri. Nickname: Inch.

寸土 すんど          sundo          an inch of land                 (inch + land)

寸分 すんぶん      sunbun        a bit, a little                       (inch + part)
寸言 すんげん      sungen        brief but signicant words  (inch + speech)
寸前 すんぜん      sunzen        just before                        (inch + before)
寸進 すんしん      sunshin       inching along (progress)  (inch + enter)
寸時 すんじ          sunji           a moment, a minute          (inch + time)
寸書 すんしょ      sunsho       note, short letter                (inch + writing)
寸劇 すんげき      sungeki      dramatic sketch                 (inch + drama)
寸簡 すんかん      sunkan       brief note, short letter        (inch + simple)

The character combinations above are fairly straightforward. Those below are just a little bit more "daring" when it comes to interpretation.

寸忠  すんちゅう  sunchuu      my loyalty (humble)            (inch + loyalty)
寸志  すんし         sunshi         small token of appreciation (inch + aim)
寸鉄  すんてつ     suntetsu      small weapon; pithy saying (inch + iron/metal)
寸陰  すんいん     sun'in          a moment, a minute             (inch + "yin")
寸切り すんぎり     sungi(ri)      a straight cut                         (inch + cut)

[c] Measurement RF
Finally, I have added a brief (寸) list of the combinations in which this characters "is radical." A full dictionary (such as The New Nelson Japanese-English Character Dictionary, from which these examples are drawn, will show the enormous range of combinations possible with any one radical, either on its own or as a part of larger characters. If you are not aware that Japanese characters have gone through a number of "simplifications" from the forms originally borrowed from China, note the versions in the brackets.

           ジ, てら                       JI, tera                       temple
寿 []  ス, ジュ, ことぶく       SU, JU; kotobu(ku)    longevity, age, congratulations 
 [タイ                             TAI                             the opposite, antonym, facing
            フウ, ホウ                    FUU, HOO                seal; sealing, closing; block
    []  セン, もっぱら            SEN, moppa(ra)        mainly, solely; specialty
   []  ショウ, はた, まさに   SHOO, hata, masa ni  commander, general; again
            シャ, いる, さす           SHA, iru, sasu           archery shooting; shine upon
            ジン, たずねる, ひる    JIN, tazu(neru), hiro   fathom, look for, inquire
            ソン, たっとぶ             SON, tatto(bu)            value, honor, reverence
            ドウ, みちびく             DOU, michibi(ku)        leading; guide, lead, conduct 

No comments:

Post a Comment