Kanji Meditations

Exploring language via Chinese characters


迷 Three random incidents this week wove themselves together under the theme of “lost”. I. In one of my Japanese lessons, the vocabulary list included the word for enigma, puzzle, or riddle: nazo 謎 「なぞ」。 When I looked up the kanji, it turned out to be rather arcane (that is, not in the standard school set). On the left-side, is the radical “word” (to say). On the right side is

Don’t Make Me Lose Hope

I Knead Practice

  GPlus Timestamp: Mar 27, 2016 10:39:32 AMMigrated. Not Formatted.

The Examined Life

Language: The Examined Life 改 KAI: examine, amelioratePerhaps my fondness for this kanji stems in part from my Catholic upbringing and the cyclical and ongoing practice of examining one’s conscience and making amends for one’s faults. The verb 改める”aratameru” means roughly: revise, alter, rectify, correct, redo, renew, over again, and anew. In short, in order to improve, you must both examine and change. Composition of 改 On the left side

Making Sense of Experience

Purpose, Goals, Destinations

Quite fittingly, and is so often the case, where I ended up by the time I finished writing this meditation is not where I thought I was headed. The word of the day is destination and the realization that when I aim for a goal, not only do I often fall short but that I’ve fallen short so often that I now habitually begin with what some might term a defeatist attitude. It hasn’t always been thus. I remember some projects that turned out differently, where a collaboration took me further than I had initially conceived. That was amazing.

The Pleasure of New Words

“…University of Barcelona (UB), the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg (Germany) have experimentally proved that human adult word learning exhibit activation not only of cortical language regions but also of the ventral striatum, a core region of reward processing. Results confirm that the motivation to learn is preserved throughout the lifespan, helping adults to acquire a second language.

“Researchers determined that the reward region that is activated is the same that answers to a wide range of stimuli, including food, sex, drugs or game.”

Google Translate

GPlus Timestamp: Sep 29, 2014 1:19:38PM Migrated. Not Formatted. The advent of Google Translate encourages me to work at my Japanese because it piques my interest in the original text. I laugh and wonder what could possibly be going on in the original Japanese to produce results like these? 農業とは無縁だった高野さんには不可能に近い難題であったが、「むずかしい仕事に直面すると、胸がジーンと熱くなるのです」。 It was a challenge nearly impossible to Takano-san was unrelated to agriculture, “When you face a difficult job, chest I

Will, Intent

意 意 is composed of two other kanji: sound 「音」and heart 「心」. If one listens to the sound of one’s heart (metaphorically), one attains consciousness or awareness 「意識」[ishiki] which enables you to form opinions 「意見」[iken]. (How do you see the topic under discussion in your mind’s eye?) Your opinions express which way you lean on a topic; that is, tells us about your inclinations 「意向」[ikou] (in Japanese, it’s literally which

I Can’t Know What You Want

What fascinates me about Japanese is how certain forms that would merely be politely evasive in English are built into Japanese grammar. For example, when I speak of desire, I use different words when speaking of my own desires in contrast to a third party’s desires. I can know about my own emotional state but I can only guess what other people are feeling. ~garu In English, I want a

By Human Measure

里 “The ri 「里」, the old Japanese measure of distance, has disappeared entirely from road signs and maps, and within ten years it will vanished from the language. One ri , say the conversion tables, equaled 3.927 kilometers, but that is nearly irrelevant. One ri ―as I came to know in practice―was the distance that a man with a burden would aim to cover in an hour on mountain roads.

Abrupt Commands

GPlus Timestamp: Feb 24, 2012 11:13:02 AM

Setsubun: Dividing the Seasons

GPlus Timestamp: Feb 3, 2012 7:31:27 AM