Thursday, May 6, 2010

Kanji: 振 (fu・ru/SHIN).

A thing I really like about studying Japanese is that kanji, though maddening, are endlessly intriguing. I'm constantly encountering new kanji that suddenly fit into three or four other spaces and create a kind of resonance, and though it underscores my ignorance it's also exciting and satisfying.

例えば—not to belabor the Meiko Kaji song, but—振り向いたの漢字。Turns out it's the same ふり as in 振袖, furisode, the dressy young-woman's kimono with "swinging sleeves" (pictured at right; click to enlarge). To me, swinging and turning/facing are pretty different, but しょがないだろうね.

Similarly, 振り向いたのの漢字。。。。"muku" is the same "mu" as mukou (向こう), meaning opposite, as on the other side of the street, or meaning beyond, as in right down there past the brick building. Or mukau (向かう), to face (toward) something, and muki (向き), orientation. I hypothesized that 向 might also appear in mukashi, as in a long time ago (like beyond remembering), but not so; that's a single kanji without okurigana, (むかし). 「言葉」の携帯アップリによると, 「昔」の漢字はたくさん熟語が使う。All have something to do with the distant past. Maybe it's a case of inconsistent assignment of kanji to existing words; maybe "mukashi" and "mukou" are related etymologically in Japanese spoken language but now are expressed in unrelated kanji. Or maybe not. かも知れないね


ADDENDUM: Kotoba says that 振る also carries several other meanings, including that of changing heading or direction. So I guess 振り向いた makes sense as a double-kanji item emphasizing the turning around (to see、川に, the 旅の灯 go off into the distance). If I can assume the subject is inverted again (as in 行く女).(命の道を行っている女は)振り向いた。川に、旅の灯が遠ざかる(のを見た). Not so sure about the tenses there. Hmm.

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