Know Your Picture Characters Entry #11

June 28th, 2010 by Wordsman

A. 冊 B. 台 C. 杯 D. 匹 E. 本 F. 枚 G. 羽

Clearly, this week’s puzzle was too easy, because pretty much everyone got it either right or partially right.  A Fan was dead on with his guess of A, which proves that sometimes laziness is the answer.  Shirley came close, for while she was not able to identify the classifier used when counting books, she did pick out the kanji that means “book” (yes, they’re different).  It seems that Dragon should perhaps lose points for specifically abandoning the correct answer, but the precise description of the meaning of B serves to remind us that reading is an act of serious devotion . . . and, apparently, decapitation.

So here we go.  A is the counter word used for counting books or other bound volumes.  B covers a variety of machines, including computers, microwaves, and cars.  C is for glassfuls and is part of the expression “Kampai!” the Japanese equivalent of “Cheers!” (though in terms of exact meaning, it is closer to “Down the hatch!”)  D is a counter word for animals (and, if you feel like being rude, people).  E is nice and confusing, because while on its own it means “book,” among other things, it is the counter word for long, cylindrical objects.  The definition of “cylindrical” is pretty broad, however, and it can be used to count a wide variety of objects, including pens, trees, swords, umbrellas, roads, and even (in a metaphorical sense) telephone calls and bus routes.  F is for flat objects like pieces of paper, plates, and CD’s.

G is the counter for birds, which I included for two reasons.  One is that it features in the Japanese equivalent of “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo“: niwa ni wa niwa niwatori ga iru.  It means “There are two chickens in the garden.”  Our counter word friend G is the third wa.

The other reason is this passage from Wikipedia, which I found while doing “research” for this entry:

“Japanese Buddhist monks were not allowed to eat any meat other than birds, but they liked rabbit meat so much they came up with the contrived ‘explanation’ that rabbits are actually birds, and that their ears are unusable wings. The rationale was that while moving, the rabbits touched ground only with two feet at a time.”

Oh, those wacky monks!

I know that some of you sometimes feel lost when reading KYPC, so I’ve decided to help you out by teaching you some directions.  Here is this week’s two-part challenge: I am giving you two sets of directions, one generic (up, down, left, right) and one cardinal (North, South, East, West).  First you get to guess which is which, and then you can see if you can pick out North.  Once you have, we’ll be able to use this information to align our linguistic compasses, and you’ll never be lost again.  Possibly.

A. 北 B. 西 C. 東 D. 南

A. 上 B. 下 C. 左 D. 右

Posted in Know Your Picture Characters | 3 Comments »

3 Responses

  1. Dragon Says:

    Obviously the ones on top are the cardinal directions, since those are the fancier way to give directions and the ones on top are fancier. And I’m going to say that the D on top is North, because there’s a little cross up where North would be on a compass. Now, we all know it’s supposed to be “x” marks the spot, rather than “t” (and a very squished “t” at that), but clearly in ancient Japan, their equivalent expression was backwards. Er, sideways.

  2. A Fan Says:

    I have to agree that the bottom set is “up,” “down,” etc., although it goes against everything I know about the Wandering Wordsman to pick the obvious answer.

    I don’t know if the Japanese had compasses, but I bet they knew that it was generally colder in the North than the South. The guy in D. is really bundled up against the cold Hokkaido winds, so he must be North.

  3. Shirley Says:

    There seems to be an up and down sort of personality to A and B of the second line I couldn’t care less about left and right because I can’t tell my left hand from my right – I guess because I’m ambidexterous.
    As for north, south, etc.,north is always at the top of a map and there seems to be more stuff going on at the very top of B, so, B. Ergo, north to west second line.(It might be of some interest to those who know and love me that I CAN tell left from right if I’m facing north. I don’t try to explain it.)

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