Wednesday, 11 February 2015

露, Kanji of the Week

When typing in pictographs (in languages like Japanese and Chinese) I sometimes put the character into Google image-search to confirm that I've got the right one (i.e., that I haven't ended up with a similar-looking glyph that's slightly wrong).

With characters like 露, the results can be surprising.

The primary meaning of 露 in both Chinese and Japanese is "dew" (つゆ), but in Chinese it somehow ended up with a sense of revealing something that should not be revealed (my dictionary provides the unusually comical example of, 你褲子破的都露屁股了).  In Japanese, this has become yet another word for "nude" with the phonetically-unrelated あらわ as its Kun-Yomi (cf. the Japanese use of 露骨, ろこつ, "blatant/blunt", but sometimes meaning "lewd").

So, if you're expecting images of dew (つゆ) you'll be strangely disappointed in putting 露 into Google.