Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, March 20, 2006

Japanese Language Study

I've been learning kanji, Chinese characters, lately. I can recognize the meaning of about 100 of them, even if I can't always remember how they are pronounced. To put 100 kanji in perspective, a Japanese high school student will know just under 2000. However, the proverbial journey of 1000 miles ...

Since the kanji I've learned are very basic ones, they turn up all of the time. Also, since this is something I've been working on recently, I tend to notice kanji when I run across them more now than I ever did before. Do I know a given kanji, do I recognize any of the elements, and so on.

Right now I'm reading a book entitled Hiding the World in the World. It's a collection of essays about the Zhuang Zi. Throughout the book, the authors have included some chinese characters when they are making specific points.

The character for 'zi' (master, sage, something like that) stood out when I came across it. It was a character I knew. I looked up the Chinese for Laozi, Sunzi, Mozi, and many others. The 'zi' character was a constant.

The meaning I learned for it was ... child. Can it be a coincidence that the character for child and for master are one and the same?


Compass360 Consulting Group said...

Zen Master Suzuki said [" In the Beginner's mind, there are many possibilities. In the Expert's Mind, there are few."]

One starts as a beginner and slowly reduces the many possibilites to become the expert

Matt said...

All the above implications are possibly true, I wouldn't really know.

In Chinese, 子 is found at the end of a Very Large number of nouns. I tend to think of it as like the -ette suffix in English, but without any connotations of smallness. Rather, it conveys item-ness.

I've only studied Chinese for a couple of years so I could be off-target.