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Old 05-21-2007, 12:48 PM   #62
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
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Re: Parsing ai ki do

Josh Lerner wrote: View Post
My critique is specifically of your attempts at a scholarly linguistic argument. ...
"Music for angry conversation," indeed. If I have offended it is, at worst, an intellectual offense, which in my book is among the most venial of sins, but I suppose, among some, the most unforgivable.

Josh Lerner wrote: View Post
Maybe I misunderstood your reasoning. I took your reasoning to be the following, based on what you wrote above -

a) "aikido" is onyomi
b) onyomi is a Chinese way of reading kanji
c) reading "aikido" as onyomi is therefore a Chinese way of reading the compound
d) "The connotations appropriate to onyomi in poetry are Chinese in origin"
e) therefore the word "aikido" can be parsed according to the way Chinese compounds are parsed in classical Chinese poetry, and doing so will give us an insight into what Ueshiba wanted to say.

Which of these steps doesn't reflect what you are trying to say?
The reasoning, if this is what you are trying to say, is faulty, because the very first step is not true, and because Ueshiba had nothing to do with the creation of the word "aiki".
The mistake was to assume that I was making a reasoned argument in the first place. Rhetoric is larger than logic. Knowledge is larger than what may be shown logically. I was pretty clear about my purpose: "Reading it in the Classical Chinese manner may thus give a variety of associations or connotations appropriate to poetic license."

My point was prior to reasoning about anything, as I said, speaking to the poetic elements of O Sensei's thought with the association of concepts signaled by a pictogram commonly used by both cultures and with deep roots. I was simply drawing out associations of concepts centered on the CHINESE character adopted by the Japanese. How they choose to pronounce it currently or at any other time, is also a secondary association (other than the fact is is now pronounced "ai" and forms part of the word 合 氣 道). Development of accepted premises or propositions from those associations is secondary (and any logical development of argument from those premises, is a third order function.)

But the fact of differential readings opens the discussion of the other associations embodied in that pictogram beyond the idea that there is any strictly denotative meaning in the term. Which was my point in a discussion about "parsing" the name.

Reasoning about those associations happens, if at all, after that point. You attacked an argument I was not making, simply because I began my associations with one likely flawed observation as to the particular philology of "ai," then disregarded the remainder of my associations simply because they had not fit into the dependent scheme of the logical strawman you immediately made of it.

In other words:

"This isn't an argument, it's just contradiction."

"No, it isn't"

Josh Lerner wrote: View Post
What independent homophones are you talking about that are cognate with each other? Maybe if you can explain that, I'll have a better idea of what you are talking about. Are you talking about "he" and "ai"? The Chinese "he" and Japanese "ai" of "aikido" are neither cognates nor homophones.
Neither are KI and q in any more obvious way. The point is there are several historical rounds of the onyomi transmission, which I referenced, albeit a bit carelessly, because historic "Chinese" has not been everywhere and at all times spoken the same way, depending on the period and which region was in more or less ascendancy at the time. It is one of the reasons why their non-phonetic writing system has survived. That also makes one-for-one tracking of word priority nearly impossible to establish. It also makes the present association of "ai" as kunyomi, in a hybrid reading of "aiKI," somewhat problematic, for the historical and sociological reasons I noted above, and you yourself signaled on other grounds.

I wanted to provoke some discussion, but this is not the one I had hoped would ensue. I don't really care one way or the other, as it is the scheme of concepts I am addressing, not establishing or disproving the parochial claim of the Japanese to one or the other pronunciation of a Chinese character. (Prof. Goldsbury's point about pointless Augustinian arguments.) I don't pretend to be the best at anything, much less the linguistics, but I learned a long time ago that the best is often the enemy of the good. Making progress in anything requires trying what's at hand -- if it is not good enough -- the better will be found out sooner.

The key point is the complex of Chinese meanings and associations given the character carried through several historical changes of language and transmission to Japan, and their schemes of refernce in a poetically-minded perosn like O Sensei. -- And what we can then say with or about the word and its meaning to us and to those who have used it before us.


Erick Mead
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