Know Your Picture Characters Entry #42

February 7th, 2011 by Wordsman

A. 浮世絵 B. 歌舞伎 C. 狂言 D. 短歌 E. 能 F. 文楽

Dragon has returned to her old role of first into the fray this week, and she does it with style.  She correctly identified B as kabuki by noting that it had a lot of boxes in it and was therefore flashy.  Her logic may seem difficult to follow, but I will attempt to lead you through it: when you hear the word “box,” the first thing that naturally jumps to mind is a cardboard box.  Now cardboard, as we well know, is not one of the flashiest substances on Earth.  It is, however, something that is stored in large quantities in warehouses.  And what else was stored in a large warehouse?  That’s right: the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost ArkThat thing was pretty flashy when they opened it up.  Ergo: kabuki.

Theoman was tricksy in his response.  He correctly spotted the noh at E on the basis of shortness (I so desperately wanted to find a counterexample of a word with the same pronunciation that was two characters long, but I could not).  However, he failed to properly follow the instructions, which clearly stated that the object of the puzzle was to identify whichever art form sounded the most interesting, and there is noh way that noh could have been the most interesting-sounding thing on that list.  But he did stoop to making the obligatory pun, so all is forgiven . . . for now (for noh?).

Our newest contestant fell prey to one of the oldest pitfalls of KYPC: assuming that kanji are meant to help rather than to mislead you.  The shared character she identified in B and D can mean either “poetry” or “song” depending on where it is used.  In kabuki it refers to singing, but D is actually the classic tanka or “short poem.”  At 31 syllables, the tanka is almost twice as long as the early modern/modern haiku; the name comes out of comparison to the chouka or “long poem,” which had no set limit on length and was already dying out by the time major poetry collections were starting to be recorded.

A Fan took a clever approach.  And he’s right–the second character in F does look an awful lot like singer/songwriter Paul Anka, recognizable by the beams of light shining off his face and the single hair standing up at an angle on his head.  But, as we have already discovered, the elusive tanka was hiding out at D.  F is the puppet theatre of bunraku, made up of two characters that, sadly, have nothing to do with puppets.  And by way of explanation to TCGU: for reasons that cannot be explained, I have always thought it more fitting to refer to live theatre with the British spelling and to a movie theater with the American one.  It may have something to do with perceptions of classiness.

Shirley’s typically accurate shotgun misfired this week.  Even her last-ditch guess failed to pull through.  That wacky bunch in A is the ukiyoe, or “pictures of the floating world.”  I guess if everything were floating you might convulse in a strange manner, but I don’t think it would be with laughter.  The “crazy words” of kyogen can be found at C.

And now for something completely different.  A murder has been committed!  Who did it?  Where was it done?  And, most importantly of all, what was the murder weapon?  Was it the candlestick?  The knife?  The lead pipe?  The revolver?  The rope?  Or the wrench?  See if you can spot the deadly implement and help solve this heinous crime.  Clever detectives may also note that one of these items is not written with kanji.  Some may chose to ignore it, figuring that they have no chance of identifying something written with characters that aren’t even intended to represent meaning.  Others may be sick of all this kanji business and figure they have as good a shot with that as they do with anything else.  Theoman, however, is banned from guessing about that particular entry, because that’s just the kind of discriminatory jerk I am.

A. 鉛管 B. 小刀 C. 燭台 D. 縄 E. レンチ F. 連発拳銃

Posted in Know Your Picture Characters | 3 Comments »

3 Responses

  1. A Fan Says:

    In the original British version it was a “spanner,” not the Americanized “wrench.” And the game was “Cluedo,” not “Clue.”

    Therefore, I think it was “Reverend” Green (another British original version) in the parlor with B., the spanner.

  2. Dragon Says:

    I’m reasonably certain that E is the one that’s not kanji. I’m going to say that’s the lead pipe, because why would you have characters specifically designed to represent a lead pipe?

  3. Shirley Says:

    Good grief! I thought I at least understood what a kanji was, but now I see that one of the items is not in kanji! I thought it just meant the generic “word”. I Now I find that other things can be words, too. Who knew? Well, a lot of people obviously, considering the population of Japan plus all the others who have studied the language. Which doesn’t include me. So I decided some research was called for and I went to the always helpful Google and found out that not only are some words hiragana and others katakana, but there are 2136 kanji in everyday use. So much for always helpful! “Good grief” doesn’t quite do the job. I read that katagana includes swear words, so if I decide to pursue this subject further, I might start with those.

    In the unimaginable event that I were ever to murder anyone, it would have to be from a distance (I tend to be queasy). Also, guns are more complex than ropes, lead pipes, etc. F.looks the most complex and covers more space. F.

    I also learned that hiragana is more curvilinear, E is the most curvy. Not that that identifies anything except that rope does bend more than the others,

    That might be a candle in the middle of A. Somehow A looks the least threatening. A, candlestick.

    This is getting too long.

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