Welcome to AikiWeb Aikido Information
AikiWeb: The Source for Aikido Information
AikiWeb's principal purpose is to serve the Internet community as a repository and dissemination point for aikido information.

aikido articles


dojo search
image gallery
links directory

book reviews
video reviews
dvd reviews
equip. reviews


rss feeds

Follow us on

Home > AikiWeb Aikido Forums
Go Back   AikiWeb Aikido Forums > Language

Hello and thank you for visiting AikiWeb, the world's most active online Aikido community! This site is home to over 22,000 aikido practitioners from around the world and covers a wide range of aikido topics including techniques, philosophy, history, humor, beginner issues, the marketplace, and more.

If you wish to join in the discussions or use the other advanced features available, you will need to register first. Registration is absolutely free and takes only a few minutes to complete so sign up today!

Thread Tools
Old 08-25-2004, 11:45 PM   #1
Location: Taito-ku, Toyko
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 38
Multiple vs Single Kanji Words

Through my brief study of Kanji, I have noticed that there are some single characters that carry a concept that is normally conveyed through the use of multiple characters.

For example, 名 , has the kun-yomi reading of 'Na' which means 'name'. However, the common useage of 'name' is 名前 or 'Namae'. While I understand that the on-yomi reading of 名 have meaning other than name, the kun-yomi pronunciation does not. What is the reason for this "extra" Kanji? Is it just a matter of synonyms? Politeness? Are there extra connotations being lost in translation?

(On a side note, I'm curious why 'mae' is chosen, as I understand it to mean 'before' or 'previously' and the words "name before" make no sense to me.)

Other examples of this are:

校 - school
学校 - school

電 - electricity
電気 - electricity

Neither of these words have kun-yomi pronunciations. The concept of school, at least, must have existed in Japanese culture before the borrowing of Chinese characters. Why would the Japanese not simply graft their word (that involves two Kanji) onto the single Kanji that shares the same concept? The pairs make sense as the second reinforces the first, but it seems to only add to the amount of writing. Was this a pride thing at one point; a matter of one-up-manship, either between the Japanese and Chinese, or the educated and the non? Are there meanings that I am unaware of that are being clarified by the second Kanji? Anybody know how the Chinese express these examples (with a single hanzi, the same pair of hanzi, or otherwise)?

I assume there are more examples of words with both kun- and on-yomi pronunciations (like 'namae') that I am not aware of (I only know about 70 or so Kanji), so I'm curious as to both accounts of why the extra kanji is added.

I plan to simply accept this and will try to learn as many of these 'proper' combinations, but I'm curious as to the reasoning behind it. Thanks.

  Reply With Quote
Old 08-26-2004, 02:08 PM   #2
Location: Taito-ku, Toyko
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 38
Re: Multiple vs Single Kanji Words

Another example I forgot, this one similar to 'Namae' in that it has both kun- and on-yomi pronunciation:

友 - friend
友達 - friend

Just thought I'd add it because maybe somebody knows something about a particular case. I'd be happy to learn anything.

  Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2004, 08:32 PM   #3
saltlakeaiki's Avatar
Dojo: Salt Lake Aikikai
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 76
Re: Multiple vs Single Kanji Words

Eric, you certainly have a penchant for asking tough questions that really don't have any clear answers I'm not even gonna try to address most of this in detail
I plan to simply accept this and will try to learn as many of these 'proper' combinations, but I'm curious as to the reasoning behind it.
Good, that's the best way, really But your statement here reveals perhaps where the problem lies: "reasoning behind it". If I were to make a Gross Generalization, I might say that as a student of Latin, it might make sense that you are looking for rationality and structure in language. Latin (the way we study it nowadays) certainly seems to provide this stuff in spades But that's not really how a living language is. In any case, it's not something designed or engineered (1), such that one can ask for the reasoning. To paraphrase a well-known saying: Language happens So.... you've got your work cut out for you!


(1) You could hold up Esperanto as an example of an engineered language, and certainly it has been fairly successful. My understanding is that one of the basic tenets of its design is that it is completely regular, to make it easier to learn. I've heard (this is pure heresay and possibly apocryphal) that young children who have grown up in heavily Esperanto-speaking households have begun to introduce irregularities into it, which of course drives their parents crazy, because it breaks the Grand Design of the language! If this story is true, it tells us something very interesting about "Language with a Capital L"...

If it wasn't for the goat, you couldn't get in here for propaganda!
  Reply With Quote


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Env sushil_yadav Open Discussions 4 09-06-2005 04:23 PM
Single or multiple training partners? jon_jankus Training 4 03-25-2004 10:03 AM

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:42 AM.

vBulletin Copyright © 2000-2024 Jelsoft Enterprises Limited
Copyright 1997-2024 AikiWeb and its Authors, All Rights Reserved.
For questions and comments about this website:
Send E-mail
plainlaid-picaresque outchasing-protistan explicantia-altarage seaford-stellionate