Wednesday, February 9, 2011


There must be a word for that effect I like so much, when several different kanji can be used to write a single phonetic group (or several similar phonetic groups). Here's another one: あらた (a・rata), meaning "new/anew" or "again". It can be written adjectivally as 新た, as in 新たな物 (arata na mono), in which case it's the same kanji as あたらしい 新しい atara・shii, "new". But then it can also appear as 改める arata・meru, meaning to do something again (anew). So this phonetic grouping of あらた (with, perhaps, あたら) carries several kanji relating to new instances of things. This seems similar to かれる kareru, one I've mentioned before:
枯れる / kareru / to be (as a plant) completely withered or dried out (tree + old)
涸れる / kareru / to dry up (as a pond) (water + hardening, solidifying)
嗄れる / kareru / to dry out or rasp out (as a voice); to become hoarse (mouth + summer)
Of course, it may be just coincidence; that's always a danger. I started thinking of かれる when I encountered 「涙もかれ果てて」 in a Miyuki Nakajima song. 果てる hateru has a similar meaning of reaching an extreme, being exhausted, perishing—when one has reached the point at which tears are dried up, exhausted (枯れ果てる). I suppose that must be 枯, because the others seem NGU (not-general-use), not 常用.

I guess in general many of them have been consolidated into 常用 kanji, the everyday kanji; too bad. Too bad. The older forms have a lot of charm and are suggestive historically. I wonder whether 日本人 still recognize and understand those older forms, and whether those forms still carry any shades of meaning.

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