Japanese | Word of the Day
Today's word falls in-line with our previous entry covering the rainy season or "梅雨/つゆ/tsuyu" as it is more commonly referred. This post could easily be interpreted as a continuation of the last, so to keep that spirit going we will return our conversation to weather for now. One of the more pleasant things about Japan's temperate climate, is the amount of diversity in its flora across all 5 seasons. During the rainy season in particular, beautiful pink, purplish-blue, white, and green "アジサイ・hydrangea" come into bloom all across the country. This word actually has kanji(紫陽花), but is more commonly referenced and written exclusively in kana. Actually, many flowers follow this trend unless found in scientific literature. However, for the sake the blog, lets breakdown these kanji anyway.
Unlike the rest of the words I've introduced so far, the reading of the kanji doesn't match the pronunciation outside this particular context. So, unless you were aware of the what the kanji are actually referring to in the beginning, I think most beginners would actually misread these kanji(and rightly so). However, I think that is what makes these characters particularly interesting because its current kanji usage was derived from a misunderstanding centuries ago.
There was once a famous poet from Tang Dynasty China whom wrote about a beautiful blue flower that was blooming in the sunshine. This poem became quite famous during the Heian period in Japan, and the the flower was mistakenly interpreted to be the hydrangea when, in fact, the hydrangea was not in bloom at the time in China. The poet was actually describing a different flower. But since, there weren't any photos back then, no one was aware of this mistake. On top of that, the Japanese used the kana version of the word to describe a type of mackerel(ガクアジサイ) which shared a similar pronunciation. So, in order to make a clear distinction, the kanji stuck and became associated with the image of the アジサイ we have today. Eventually, this mistake was noticed and the kana became あづさヰ.
Anyway, I'll end the lesson here before things become too convoluted. In all, the kanji attached to this word was all a big misunderstanding that stuck around for hundreds of years. What do you guys think? Does your language have a word with a similarly interesting history? Is there a Japanese word with an origin that confuses you? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,