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Ambiguities with the characters for 'Spirit' and 'Poetry'.

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Ambiguities with the characters for 'Spirit' and 'Poetry'.

Postby 木川炎星 » Thu 03.17.2011 12:28 am

I'm helping set up an English language poetry group with a focus on Japanese aesthetics. One difficulty we've been having is deciding on a name. We want the name to refer to spirit-poetry, or more accurately, poetry that captures the spirit of the subject matter. But there are so many different kanji for both of these concepts, it is hard to find the best one!

As for 'poetry', there's the characters 歌, 詩, and 詞. I'd rather pick one of the latter two, as the first can also refer to 'song'. They largely have the same readings, however, and similar components. I'm sure there are subtle differences between them, but don't know what they are.

As for 'spirit', there's the character 魂, as in 大和魂 (I know this is a politically loaded term, but does that also apply for the character 魂 on its own?). There's also the character 霊, as in 言霊. There's also 魄, but I'm not sure what context this one would be used in. On their own though, these characters also translate to the English word 'spirit' in the sense of 'ghost' or 'departed soul'. In a compound, would this cause any problems in understanding the intended meaning? Do any of these characters hold any other connotations that I should be aware of? Would I be better off using a simpler character like 心?

Lastly, what order should I put the two characters in? [Spirit]+[Poetry] or [Poetry]+[Spirit]? I've seen compounds which contain these characters using both forms of arrangement. Which would be best in this instance?

Thanks for your help!
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Re: Ambiguities with the characters for 'Spirit' and 'Poetry

Postby chikara » Thu 03.17.2011 1:06 am

TJPへようこそ。

木川炎星 wrote:.... As for 'poetry', there's the characters 歌, 詩, and 詞. I'd rather pick one of the latter two, as the first can also refer to 'song'. ...



木川炎星 wrote:....As for 'spirit', there's the character 魂, as in 大和魂 (I know this is a politically loaded term, but does that also apply for the character 魂 on its own?). There's also the character 霊, as in 言霊. There's also 魄, but I'm not sure what context this one would be used in. On their own though, these characters also translate to the English word 'spirit' in the sense of 'ghost' or 'departed soul'. In a compound, would this cause any problems in understanding the intended meaning? Do any of these characters hold any other connotations that I should be aware of? Would I be better off using a simpler character like 心? ...

心 is probably the best of those although it also has a meaning of "mind" and "heart". 気 is another possibility with the same meanings, spirit/mind/heart. There is also 精神.

It really depends on the nuance you are trying to convey.
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Re: Ambiguities with the characters for 'Spirit' and 'Poetry

Postby 木川炎星 » Thu 03.17.2011 3:55 am

Thanks!

詩 definitely looks like the best character to use for 'poetry'. I'm still undecided as for the character for 'spirit'/'essence'.

With 心, if the character as the other way around (詩心) it refers to the ability to appreciate poetry. I'm not sure if the ambiguity is a bad thing, or if the pun makes it a good choice.

気 might be too broad a choice, as its other meanings seem more common, especially in compounds (such as 天気 and 元気).

I've also come across しんずい, which can be written three ways: 神髄, 真髄, and 心髄. All of which refer to the 'essence'/'true meaning'/'soul' of something, but do they carry other connotations? (From what I can gather, the first two appear to be religious in nature. The second character, moreover, on its own means 'marrow' or 'pith'. Could this lead to unintended ambiguities?)

All this in mind, I'm starting to think that 心詩 might be the best choice. But would this have other connotations? What would be the best reading? しんし or こころし?

If there are other options, I'm open to hearing them!
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Re: Ambiguities with the characters for 'Spirit' and 'Poetry

Postby chikara » Thu 03.17.2011 6:30 pm

木川炎星 wrote:.... I've also come across しんずい, which can be written three ways: 神髄, 真髄, and 心髄. All of which refer to the 'essence'/'true meaning'/'soul' of something, but do they carry other connotations? (From what I can gather, the first two appear to be religious in nature. .....

While soul is often used as a synonym for spirit or mind, to me it implies religion. Any compound containing 神 (シン / かみ) has religious connotations to me.

真 is truth or reality hence "true meaning". No spirit there at all.

木川炎星 wrote:.... I'm starting to think that 心詩 might be the best choice. But would this have other connotations? What would be the best reading? しんし or こころし? .....

Personally I would go with onyomi, so しんし.

こころし is a mix of kunyomi and onyomi. If you want to use kunyomi it would be こころうた.

English poetry is 英詩 (えいし) and Chinese poetry is 漢詩 (かんし) so 心詩 (しんし) fits. :)
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