Know Your Picture Characters Entry #22

September 13th, 2010 by Wordsman

A. 角行 B. 香車 C. 銀将 D. 桂馬 E. 飛車 F. 歩兵

Anyone who knows anything about chess knows that a good opening is crucial to eventual victory.  I’ve never played shogi (and, for that matter, I’ve never played chess effectively), but I assume the same principle applies.  Our opening this week was provided by Dragon, who came out guessing D.  This is known as the “Disregard What the Wordsman Says Opening,” because she chose the one with crosses, saying that it must represent the bishop because he is a holy man.  In fact, her move could be considered a rare form known as the Double DWWS Opening, because not only did she ignore the fact that I said the typical English names of the Japanese pieces are related to how they move rather than what they are called, she also apparently forgot that the cross means “earth” and has no religious significance (remember?)  In any case, it was a bold move, and while I have been told that fortune favors the bold, it did not favor Dragon.  D is the knight, though its name actually means “cassia horse.”

While this challenge may have seemed impossible when I told you that the actual Japanese names for these pieces generally have nothing to do with their English ones, there is, in fact, one piece whose name is very similar to that of its English equivalent and one piece whose name literally describes its movement.  And the bishop is one of these two.  However, there are also two pieces that have no real equivalent in chess, so let’s get those out of the way.  B, the “incense chariot,” is known in English as the lance.  It is essentially a rook that can only move forward.  C, the “silver general,” is called just that in English.  It moves one space at a time in any of the eight directions except left, right, and backward.  F, by the way, is the “foot soldier,” and therefore the pawn, which you could probably guess pretty easily if you were looking at an actual shogi board, as there are a whole bunch of them out in the front row.

And now we arrive at the endgame.  We are down to two.  One is the bishop, and one not.  It would have been much more appropriately dramatic if our two remaining contestants had picked different answers, but, as so often happens in these challenges, they used completely unrelated strategies to come up with the same result.  Theoman may have been pleased to see that a portion of his hypothesis was confirmed in the description of B, but, if he has been paying attention, he may also have noticed that there is now only one character remaining with the wheel/chariot kanji, and the rook has yet to be introduced.  And A Fan made the all-too-common mistake of expecting kanji to be consistent.  Their choice, E, is the rook, going by its assumed shogi name of “flying chariot.”  Our friend the bishop was right in front all along, as letter A, the “angle goer.”

Okay, that one was hard.  I admit it.  So I’ll cut you guys some slack.  Up to this point, we’ve been working with words that could be considered strictly Japanese (at least as far as you can make such a claim about any language in today’s world).  But there is a nice long list of terms that have worked their way across the Pacific Ocean and now are used with relative ease in English.  Let’s take a look at a few of those.  Here we have three forms of art (bonsai, haiku, and origami), three “titles” (mikado, shogun, and tycoon), and one force of nature (tsunami).  Pick out what you want to identify, though if you’re one of those people who is distressed when given too much freedom, I’ll suggest that you try to find the haiku.

A. 折り紙 B. 将軍 C. 大君 D. 津波 E. 俳句 F. 盆栽 G. 帝

Posted in Know Your Picture Characters | 3 Comments »

3 Responses

  1. Dragon Says:

    I think you’re taking my answer justifications too seriously. Anyway, I’m going with A. There appear to be three separate characters, and a haiku has three lines.

  2. TheomanZero Says:

    Hmm . . . I feel like I should know more of these, or at least which one uses only one character. Based on my limited knowledge, I feel pretty good about saying A is origami, and slightly less confident that C is tycoon.

  3. Shirley Says:

    I’m baaack. Miss me? Looking over what has been going on since I’ve been gone, I see I’ve missed some stimulating discussions from the participants and learned instruction from WW who is embarking on preparation for academia. Should be valuable practice.
    I feel humbled by it all and unworthy to compete after having been blissfully wasting my time at the wonderful Chautauqua in beautiful downstate (or is it upstate?) New york, historic D.C. and equally historic Gettysburg battle field and beautiful Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia. But since valor can sometimes be the better part of discretion, I’m plunging is with my usual guesses.

    C. has to be haiku with its economy of structure and breathtaking clarity.

    G. is little and has roots which appear to be snipped off to help keep the plant from growing with irrational exuberance. And is cute. Bonsai, obiously.

    I realize the scribes, or whatever they were who chose this kanji, just possibly may not have been inspired by Gilbert and Sullivan, but I have and I think I detect a musical quality about F. along with an off the wall kind of humor. Idiotic, I admit, but I don’t care.

    E. has some interesting folds and a certain greceful beauty. Origami.

    The tsunami. Terrifying. Chaotic. Powerful. A.

    Then I guess tycoon has to be D But I can’t see any other reason why.

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