Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Kanji For Words

Sometimes, a kanji is said to be the kanji for a given word if that word can be written with that kanji alone, or that kanji plus okurigana. That is, the meaning of the kanji match the meaning of the word, and so the word became one of the kanji's readings.

This is useful when dealing with kanji representing morphemes in words instead of whole words.

For example, danshi 男子, "boy," is written with the kanji for the words otoko 男, "man," and ko 子, "child." So "boy" is a word with two morphemes: dan-shi, and those morphemes are written with the same kanji as the words otoko and ko.

The word "volcano" in Japanese, kazan 火山, is written with the kanji for the words "fire," hi 火, and "mountain," yama 山

An example with okurigana: tousou 逃走, "to run away," is written with the kanji for the verbs nigeru 逃げる, "to escape," and hashiru 走る, "to run."

Another utility of this is that knowing the word associated with the kanji can help you guess the meaning of words by their kanji when multiple kanji are mixed together. For example: a word that mixes onna 女, "woman," and "child" together, can be guessed to mean "girl," joshi 女子.

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