By Jackson Pietsch
Lately I’ve been studying out of this book, whose first section focuses on different kanji compounds with the same reading. These compounds are of particular interest to me considering that a large percentage of my social capital is based on the production and deployment of awful jokes, with any and all words that sound remotely similar being fair game. For example, one of the better known Japanese homophones, はし, can mean “bridge,” “chopsticks,” or “end/edge.”
Consider today’s post a mere sampler of the rich homophonic cheese fermenting in the cellars of Nippongo. I’ll be focusing on kanji compounds and offering a few examples, but keep in mind that there’s plenty more to play around with.
- 制服: uniform; what your (non-elementary) students probably wear
- 征服: conquest; subjugation; overcoming. This one I first learned from the Kyary Pamyu Pamyu song Invader Invader. Ossha let’s sekai seifuku da!
- 後輩: one’s junior (at work, school, etc); a younger person/student
- 荒廃: ruin; destruction; devastation; waste; decay. Yay!
- 交配: mating; crossbreeding; cross-fertilization. This one I actually just learned. Wonder why the book didn’t see fit to include this? We’re a generation of Pokemon breeders. Quoth jisho.org:
「馬とロバを交配させるとラバが生まれる。」[“If you mate a horse with an ass you will get a mule.”]
- 天才: genius; prodigy; a natural talent (Who’s smarter than a tensai? An eleven-sai!)
- 天災: natural disaster or calamity
- 脂肪: fat; grease; blubber. Now I’m hungry.
- 死亡: death; mortality; to die or pass away
- 世紀: century; era
- 正規: regular; normal; formal; legal; established; legitimate. Yawn.
- 性器: genitals. Quoth Jisho.org, presented without comment:
[“It’s right after yesterday so… that is… do your genitals hurt or…?” “It still smarts a little but…”]
Got other ones you like? Let us know in the comments!
Wanna share your nihongo knowledge? Send us your favorite slang, dialectal phrases and study habits to email@example.com