Kanji twice learned are death
I was inspired to write this post by 2 things.
1) the dubious proverb 'cabbage twice cooked is death', something I might well save for another post another time
2) one of the annoying words I'm going to explain below.
There are Japanese words which mean different things when used in a positive or negative context. One such word popped up in an email I got last week.
Depending on how optimistic you're being, 'masumasu' can mean 'more and more' (increasing) or 'less and less' (decreasing). The full phrase from the email was:
(kongo no masumasu no gokatsuyaku wo oinori moushiagemasu.)
"We sincerely hope that your future work activities are ____"
Was this a genuine encouragement or a back-hander? I'm still not sure.
I talked about how 'zenzen' can be just as confusing in a previous post. I'll give you a couple of other examples.
以上 (ijou) - at least, no more than
In a restaurant, 'ijou desu' signifies that you've finished ordering. Putting a value before it means 'over x' - 'nijikan ijou' (二時間以上) is 'more than 2 hours'.
以下 (ika) - at most, no less than
The opposite of 'ijou', and also the opposite of 'ijou'.
Learning a kanji, how to pronounce it, and then the furigana to go with feels like punishment enough. Adding differences in meaning/context is enough to make my head explode.