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October 2008
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corvi [userpic]
Kanji 101: cho

This is cho, which, interestingly, means both "to listen carefully" and "to ask."

Four pieces to this one. On the left, a stylized ear above 'still'. Stand still listening, listen standing still. The piece on the right is an entire character of its own, usually interpreted 'virtue' - the flamelike thing on the bottom is 'heart' and the bit about is 'direct'. To act from the heart, to follow the dictates of the heart. So, cho - to listen with the heart, listen in stillness, listen in love.

It has picked up the associated meaning "to ask" comparatively recently. This is a nice word/concept.


I just wanted to mention that I really enjoy the calligraphy and associated etymology. It’s one of those interests I’ve never made time to make a study of, and it’s nice to be able to still enjoy it vicariously.

Cho in particular, happens to be a personal favorite of mine since I stumbled across it in a book a few years ago. One thing I’m curious about, however. I’ve heard the fragment on the upper right described as a stylized eye – any idea if that’s correct? I could easily see eye as being a root of “direct.”

Especially with the eye I’m fond of the implied definition of listening that is portrayed. It seems to suggest that listening requires using not only one’s ears, but one’s eyes and heart in stillness.

That is indeed correct, actually. I didn't follow the etymology through that many layers. Pictographically, jiki (the character for direct) is a stylized needle above an eye, to denote a direct or piercing stare.

(A note: jiki also contains a corner that is not used in the simplified versions in 'listen' or 'virtue'. The meaning of the corner is somewhat debated, but theories include it being the object stared at, that it denotes an unsucessful attempt to hide something from the direct stare, that the sturdy right angle means that something is fixed in place to be stared at. It's an interesting character; perhaps I should give it its own entry.)