Bear With Me

April 19th, 2010 by Wordsman

Since Monday is the official day for experimentation around here, I thought I’d try something new.  This project is a little different than the other ones I’ve done so far, and without reader participation it’s not going to be any fun at all, so I may have to give it up after a few weeks.  Also, I will warn you right up front: it may be mildly educational.  So, with that in mind, let’s proceed.

A true wandering wordsman must wander not only among the words of his native tongue but those of other languages as well.  All languages are connected, and there are few better examples of this fact than the use of kanji characters in Japanese.  These pictographs were originally developed in China, but they found their way across the sea to Japan, and now all Japanese writing consists of either these symbols or other characters that were derived from them (except for things written with the Roman alphabet).

Now, you might think that, while Japanese is obviously linked to Chinese, this oriental language can’t possibly be all that connected to English.  But everyone who’s ever drunk a Kamikaze, and every tycoon who’s ever had a factory destroyed by a typhoon or tsunami, should know better.  And we know about kanji, too.  We see them in martial arts movies, and on countless tattoos.  But let’s see if we can’t learn a thing or two about what they mean.

We’ll start with something easy: counting to ten.

The kanji character for the number one is the simplest there is.  It’s a single horizontal line.  It looks like this:

For two, we add a second line, and get this:

And I’m guessing no one will be too shocked to discover that three turns out like this:

So now you’ve got the pattern.  Unfortunately, this is where they decide to pull the rug out from under your feet.  The number four isn’t four horizontal lines, and none of the other numbers up to ten follow any easily recognizable pattern.

Okay, here’s the audience participation section.  Which of the following characters do you think represents the number four?  Put your guesses in the comments section.  And remember, there’s no prize for getting it right, so don’t bother looking it up.

A. 九 B. 五 C. 十 D. 七 E. 八 F. 四 G. 六

The answer will be revealed next week.

Posted in Know Your Picture Characters | 4 Comments »

4 Responses

  1. Dragon Says:

    Isn’t it F?

  2. A Fan Says:

    I’m going with B, because it looks like an upside down four, and a lot of things are upside down on the other side of the International Date Line.

  3. Shirley Says:

    C. The cross line divides the whole figure into 4 parts.
    Since I have a pretty good idea who Dragon is, That’s my second guess. And I emphatically reject any rule that we are not allowed second guesses.

  4. Gramma F Says:

    I counted four elements in B, so that’s my guess.

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