Thread: shin
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Old 03-06-2004, 08:38 PM   #6
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
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Re: shin

Paula Lydon wrote:
``What does 'shin' in Japanese mean? I was told by someone that it refers to, say, the internal integrety or core of a thing, person, idea, etc. Is that correct? Thanks!
Hello Paula,

There are at least three ways of answering your question.

1. The Japanese-English dictionary that I have here at home (the latest edition of Kenkyusha's New Japanese-English Dictionary) lists 12 meanings, each with its own main Chinese character. The meanings, in order, are (1) heart/mind/spirit; (2) padding, wick, or lead for a pencil; (3) a subject, retainer, or vassal; (4) faith/sincerity (\this might perhaps be the meaning you were told): (5) deity; (6) Chin (Chinese ruler); (7) truth\ (or this one); (8) Qin (Chinese dynasty); (9) Qing (another Chinese dynasty); (10) bed/sleep; (11) novelty; (12) short for 'shingen' = proverb or aphorism.

2. The Japanese-English Kanji dictionary I have here (the revised Nelson) lists 79 different characters for shin, 12 of which are characters alluded to above. which suggests that the vast majority of the characters are not encountered singly, but always as part of a word. Notice that Wendy Rowe's answer ties the meaning of this character to that of another, about which you could ask the same question.

3. Asking a Japanese native speaker. Actually, I have found this way the least productive, since the native speaker will go through a similar process to the one I have just done above, but mentally and without knowing all the possibilities, and then ask about the context in which the word is used. It would be like asking me the meaning of 'bank', for example (verb?, noun?, side of a river?, building?). I am not entirely sure whether my answer would be "truer" than the dictionary definition.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
Kokusai Dojo,
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