Alternate word for 格

I made a user synonym for the kanji 格 that I prefer over “status,” my brain doesn’t like thinking of 人格 as “person status” or 合格 as “status joining” in order to think of the actual meaning.

So instead, how about 格 = “expectations”?

now 人格 and 性格 are “person/gender expectations” and 合格 is now “meeting expectations.” These get closer to the actual meanings of the words for me.

For the kanji meaning mnemonic I just think: “if a person kisses a tree, you’re gonna have some odd expectations of that person” or something along those lines.

Idk if this change works better for people in general, but I thought I’d throw it out there!

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The thing is, it doesn’t really mean expectations. It really is “status” or “the state of something”.

So it doesn’t really work for 骨格, 資格, or 価格. Or any of the other 436 words that Jisho lists as containing that Kanji.

Granted, you may never come across most of them, but I think changing the meaning is detrimental in the long run.

人格 and 性格 are really “the state of the person”, which fits in with “status”. 性 is the tricky one because the “gender” meaning is a bit shallow. It’s gender in the sense of the things that make you who you are, which “gender” fits but doesn’t encompass.

合格 is more like “the state of being suitable”, which has come to mean passing a test.


yeah, I was afraid of that, I was only looking at wanikani’s vocab words.

I added some more stuff to my comment which may help with some of the words you mentioned. I never really picked up on the nuances until I learned quite a bit of Kanji.

For instance, later on you’ll find that the 格 Kanji actually contains 各, which means “each”. So instead of “tree-kiss”, I now think of it as “each tree’s status”. Also, most kanji containing that is usually pronounced かく or らく or even きゃく.

Hope that helps.

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Uh… just gonna interject with my experience as a Mandarin speaker. Hope no one minds.

My understanding is that the fundamental, literal meaning of 格 is ‘box’ or ‘lattice’ (a box being one unit of the lattice), as in 格子こうし, which is translated as ‘lattice’ by my EN-JP dictionary. In Mandarin, for instance, I would say that a sheet of grid paper is ‘paper that has 格子 on it’, and I might refer to each box (square/rectangle) in the grid as a 格 or 格子. In Japanese, I believe that 格子 can’t be used to designate a single box like in Mandarin, but the ‘lattice’ idea remains. And you’ll notice that one of the definitions of the kanji 格 is
③ 四角に組みあわせたもの。「格子(こうし)」「骨格」「格天井(ごうてんじよう)」
‘An object/objects put together into a square/quadrilateral’ (followed by examples)
so the idea clearly also exists in Japanese.

If it helps (though I don’t know if this is how the character came about), think about it like this:

In the old days, most civilisations would make lattices out of wood, right? (Other materials were too difficult/expensive to shape.) And the fundamental concept behind ‘each’ is ‘individualisation’, right? So 格 is in fact ‘wood that individualises’: in other words, a lattice.

The next step to understanding this kanji would be to link the literal meaning (‘lattice’, with the idea of ‘boxing things up’ or ‘compartmentalising’) to the meanings you’ve noticed. There are three main sorts: physical structures (like in 骨格), unique characteristics (like in 人格 and 性格) and standards (like in 資格). So here’s the question: what’s a lattice? It’s a framework made up of individual compartments, right? But a framework is at once 1. a physical structure and 2. (figuratively) a standard. That’s two of three meanings down! What about the last one? Well, compartmentalisation means each compartment can be unique, right? Plus, compartmentalisation is also about categorisation, which is putting things into a box, which is often what we think about in relation to 人格 and 性格, because everyone has a different character and personality type.

I hope that makes sense, and that my transition from the literal meaning to the figurative meaning didn’t seem too far-fetched. :slight_smile:

By the way, one final thing:

You’ve got the right idea, but I think the fundamental meaning of 性, as it’s used both Japanese and Chinese, is ‘essence’ i.e. a set of defining characteristics. For example, 活性かっせい means ‘activity’ in the sense of ‘the condition of being active’, but it’s literally ‘the essence of being alive’. ‘Gender’ is just a special use of the kanji (maybe because those who first used the character had d tendency to see gender as something that defines us). Like you said, it’s about ‘the things that make you who you are’, or in the case of objects, it’s what makes certain objects what they are.

Whatever it is though, all the best with kanji! 頑張ってください!

Edit: I realise (upon thinking about your original post) that my explanation may not be in the spirit of WaniKani keywords and mnemonics, and it’s even more complicated given that I used the meaning of 各, which is taught after 格.
If I were to follow your model, I would propose ‘framework’ as the keyword for 格 and ‘boxy wood makes a framework’ (based on the shape of the 各 component) as a mnemonic.

I don’t know if other users would find this logical. I’m really just here to participate in discussions, and I haven’t tried the WaniKani programme yet. I wrote this post to help people understand what the kanji literally means, and how to connect that to other meanings. That’s all.


I’ll take it lol, this is a lot of info! thanks!

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PPS: Another thought struck me: you can also see 人格 and 性格 as ‘frameworks’ closer to a figurative ‘structure’, which I think better fits certain traditional ideas in Chinese culture (which may also be shared by Japanese culture). After all, we tend to say that character (人格) defines a person, and that’s why it’s important to be an upright, upstanding member of society (and so on). So you could also see 人格 and 性格 as the ‘skeleton’ holding up a ‘complete’ person and helping him or her to function. Alternatively, you could say that they’re the ‘basis’ for how people behave as ‘human beings’ (人格) or as unique individuals with a certain ‘essence’ (性格).


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