Kanji In Action — 27 Comments

  1. Hah, it’s all fun and games until the pictographs break down. Doing 離 in RTK last night, and my wife looks over and says: “Is that a guy with no pants on trying to climb a ladder?”.

    At least I’m not likely to forget it now XD

    • And the pictographs do tend to break down pretty quickly!

      It’s always the crazy stories that give us the strongest memory so thank your wife!

  2. Ah, good old 鬱…
    It’s actually my kanji of choice when I want to show someone a complicated kanji which I know how to draw, lol… Not sure what my favorite was before that… maybe 繭…

  3. 「女三人寄れば姦しい」

    There seems to be no kanji make out out 3 男’s, though… Going by the examples above maybe they thought it could only possibly represent something unspeakably awesome, and just couldn’t find something that measured up? :p

  4. There’s also kanji like 妊, which I imagine is the husband saying, “You’d better be pregnant with a future king there.”

  5. Oh man, this is the worst when I’m trying to read something with small font. I need to invest in some form of portable magnifier >_>

    • And then there are also those cases where even a magnifier wouldn’t make much of a difference. I remember seeing a cramped up 「繭」 kanji when playing ソーマブリンガー on my DS and thinking about how much of the detail in that kanji was unrecognizable (or rather, not present) due to insufficient pixel density.

      • Luckily you start to get the hang of the kanji even just from it’s general shape. With normal font size on a computer you can’t see the 糸 or 虫 in there, but just knowing that kanji shape adds to recognition.

  6. Oddly enough this is one of those things that messy native handwriting makes easier. People tend to exaggerate the differences.

  7. もうひとつの例、鳥と島の違いを覚えるのほうがいい。

    This was on my JLPT N3 test from a few years back and I am still glad I knew the difference.

  8. Nice. I also like Heizig’s corresponding example from English: internal vs infernal.

    I wonder what that looks like to a non-native reader. To me the words look and feel completely different, and the effect is immediate. There is no resolution interval, where they look similar but then resolve separately. Its only when I stop reading them, and actually inspect the letters that I notice the simillarities!

    • Interesting point about this occurring in English as well.

      I know there are a lot of non-English-native users on this site. Anyone want to provide their input on how this type of minor difference feels in English?

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