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Kanji for father?

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Kanji for father?

Postby TheEnglishKnitter » Wed 06.08.2011 8:15 am

I have just started learning Kanji using Clay Boutwell's kindle 1-100 Kanji. (Well thought out :D and it allows me to easily cover 7-10 kanji pictures a day because they are grouped cleverly and work well with mind maps, it is the meanings that I'm struggling with.)

On the one for 'father', I can't get my keyboard to work, the two dashes and then the two lines like crossed swords below. It gives 3 translations all meaning 'father' in the kindle app; fu, chichi & tou.
Fine (but a challenge to learn, I'm big on 1:1 correspondance!

HOWEVER; I am also revising my kana using Japanese for busy people and they give 'otousan' as 'father'. :?

Is 'otousan' the same dash and crossed swords type kanji?
Do some of the earlier translations from the kindle book, mean Dad or papa and not 'father'?

OR, will it all become obvious to me in the future, and if I just shut up and stick with it the world of Japanese will become clear?

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Re: Kanji for father?

Postby micahcowan » Wed 06.08.2011 4:06 pm

The "tou" reading you saw in your Kindle app, is the "tou" of otousan.

As with most readings, the surrounding kana (called "okurigana") is important to determine the right reading for something. You may be pleased to learn that when 父 is used in the word "otousan", it's written お父さん, so the reading is clear. Often, in addition to the immediate okurigana, the surrounding words are needed to determine a character's reading (but that's not the case here)

When you see the character by itself, 父, it's ちち. The ふ reading you got is the ON reading, and so is used mainly in compound words. For instance, 祖父 (そふ, grandfather), 父性 (ふせい, fatherhood/paternity) or 父母 (ふぼ, mother-and-father, also read as ちちはは).

So you can see, most readings are pretty obvious from their context. Some aren't, and you just have to learn those as you encounter them. Especially when some words are based only on the characters' meanings, and not on their innate readings (like 今日/きょう・大人/おとな・上手い/うまい).

Hope that helps.
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Re: Kanji for father?

Postby TheEnglishKnitter » Thu 06.09.2011 7:28 am

OK, I think I get it.
The 'o' in 'otousan' is the polite 'o' prefix like in okane, ohashi or ocha
& the 'san' is the polite suffix for names.

Your note helped me figure out looking it up and only the 'chichi' brought up the kanji on the iphone keypad so I think I will figure out which kana brings up the kanji fastest on the keypad and learn that as a 1:1 correspondance. I will be able to map on additional pronunciations later when I start to learn compound words.

Thanks your advice was really useful. As for the kana, it is a quick revision book and I think it is probably best not to get bogged down in learning, so I'll stick to translating and revising the kana rather than trying to learn the novel vocabulary. Hopefully that way I will be able to stay on track.
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Re: Kanji for father?

Postby NileCat » Thu 06.09.2011 11:49 am

TheEnglishKnitter wrote:OK, I think I get it.
The 'o' in 'otousan' is the polite 'o' prefix like in okane, ohashi or ocha
& the 'san' is the polite suffix for names.

In the archaic Japanese, ‘toto’ meant father as well.
‘toto’ + ‘sama’ was used to address father: toto-sama. The pronunciation was altered to ‘tou-sama’ in the long run. And they added the prefix ‘o’: o-tou-sama. And more casual suffix was ‘san’: o-tou-san.

とと+さま = 父様 + 御 → おとうさま(ん) → it’s renderd お父さん today (because the kanji originally had a concept/pronunciation of 'toto')

What I find it interesting is that both ‘chichi’ and ‘toto’ are made of a repeat of two simple sounds. It makes me wonder why you say ‘pa-pa’ or ‘da-da’?
:)
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Re: Kanji for father?

Postby TheEnglishKnitter » Thu 06.09.2011 3:01 pm

If you mean why do children use 'papa' or 'baba' or 'dada', it is because those strings are easier for a young child to reproduce accurately (p/b/d developing at between 2/3 years old in most kids, some earlier and some later) and syllable repetition is easy and part of the natural development of child language.
'chichi' is an interesting choice, from my point of view, because (according to my knowledge) 'ch' is relatively late for a child to develop accurately (between 4-7 yrs for accurate pronunciation) and would be harder for them to reproduce, more likely produced as t/d/s/z.
Of course my knowledge of this is based on clinical practice in the UK with children who speak predominantly English (with problems doing so, hence needing to see me, prior to my quitting to become a stay at home Mummy), part of my interest in other languages is to look at how things like speech sounds and language develop differently.

Sorry for going wildly off topic there.
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Re: Kanji for father?

Postby NileCat » Thu 06.09.2011 3:13 pm

TheEnglishKnitter wrote:'chichi' is an interesting choice, from my point of view, because (according to my knowledge) 'ch' is relatively late for a child to develop accurately (between 4-7 yrs for accurate pronunciation) and would be harder for them to reproduce, more likely produced as t/d/s/z.

I agree. :)
And I think that that might be a part of the answer to your original question. Why the kanji has many various reads? That's because Kanji is ideogram whereas Kana is phonogram. In a sense, you could pronounce the kanji 'papa' if it was commonly used in Japnese society in the historical context. :)

EDIT:

“■※▲” ←If this was a symbol of “pater/genitor” in your English society,

“■※▲er” would be pronounced “father”
“■※▲mom” could be pronounced “parents”
“nation■※▲” could be pronounced “king”
And, the symbol might be pronounced “dada” by children.

This is ideogram. :shock:
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Re: Kanji for father?

Postby TheEnglishKnitter » Fri 06.10.2011 9:08 am

Thank you, I like the ideagram explanation, it makes sense.

On further thought I should retract that 'chichi' is harder to say than 'papa', because I have just re-read my japanese phonetics and the 'ch' is not an english 'ch' it is an alveolo-palatal 'ch'. In english this would sound like a child trying to reproduce 'ch' because the tongue starts further forward in the mouth than when an adult or older child attempts the sound. This difference in sound production places 'ch' well within the grasp of the majority of 2/3 yr olds.
Sorry, I have only been learning a few months and I am still trying to reconcile new knowledge with existing.

On the positive side, I feel much more confident about learning the kanji.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alveolo-palatal_consonant
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Re: Kanji for father?

Postby NileCat » Fri 06.10.2011 11:22 am

TheEnglishKnitter-san, I find your viewpoint very interesting.
Although I am not familiar with phonetics, I don’t think ‘chi’ is easy to produce for Japanese children even if it is different from English sound. Maybe the easier nursery word was ‘toto’ for them.
‘Mother’ is ‘haha’ in Japanese. The kanji is 母. Do you see the two dots in it? They originally meant breasts. :) But again, ‘haha’ would be hard to pronounce for children. So nursery language existed, which was ‘kaka’. (archaic)
父 = chichi = toto → o-tou-san = o父san
母 = haha = kaka → o-kaa-san = o母san

I hope this kind of trivial pursuit can be helpful for other learners too.
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