I just began learning the beginner kanji (I’m on level 1, beginner yay) and I noticed that one pronunciation for ‘big’ is ひと and one pronunciation for ‘person’ is ひろ. Does that mean that one of Hirohito’s meanings is Emperor BigPerson? Would it be appropriate or just strange to Japanese to think of the name that way, and if strange, strange in a good way or a bad way? What classifies as strange in Japanese culture do you think?
Japanese has a lot of kanji, most with several different pronunciations, but is somewhat limited in what sounds are possible (14/15 consonants and 5 vowels, although there are other features such as pitch and combinations). Because of this lots and lots of kanji would look exactly the same when written in hiragana. The kanji in Emperor Hirohito’s name are 裕仁. 裕 means ‘rich’ and 仁 means ‘benevolence’. I’m not sure, but I doubt the average Japanese person would think ‘Emperor BigPerson’, because there’s a million other meanings those two sounds separately could have. Besides, the kanji for ‘big’ and ‘person’ together, 大人, is the word for ‘adult’ and is pronounced おとな.
I was also interested in this, but the ひと is just coincidence as @deitabytes said. After looking around a bit I found that all Japanese emperor’s true names must end in ~仁 (~ひと), and did so since the Muromachi period (1333–1573 CE).
Interpreting ひろ as big is a bit far-fetched as well (or even 大 in names), especially as “physically big”.
[Looks like that there were not so many options before that … http://www.geocities.jp/somanoho/rekidai.htm]
Haha I bet Trump would like to be called “Emperor Bigly”
Are you sure you don’t have those backwards? “ひと” is person and “ひろ(い)” is not so much big but wide.
Most Japanese people wouldn’t know his name as Hirohito anyway. They only know him as 昭和天皇 (しょうわ てんのう). They don’t know the name of the current Emperor (Akihito - they only know him as てんのう) nor the name of his son who will succeed him (Naruhito - こうたいし). You could make money betting that a Japanese person doesn’t know their actual names.
We’d get the joke you’re trying to make though.
Okay let’s not exaggerate here. Japanese people can read Wikipedia and use Google just like the rest of us.
Thanks for this very informative explanation!
If you live in Japan, stop any random Japanese person and ask them the name of the Emperor. Not a single Japanese person in my office could do it. And no one I’ve come across has been able to. Sure with research they could find it but I’m talking about just asking on the spot as a matter of common knowledge.
Thanks for this … that link was a bit beyond me at the moment … I will save it and come back
I wish when I was writing my master thesis they counted “reading Wikipedia” as “research”.
Well, I guess the translation as PersonBig would look a bit odd, which is why I switched them, but I do see your point. By the way thank you for explaining that ひろ(い) is actually more like wide, that cleared up some confusion!
Who knows, it may already be printed on his bathtowels
The columns are:
- Generation number
- Era name (Chinese style)
- Japanese style posthumous name (in the Kojiki book)
- Japanese style posthumous name (in the Nihon-shoki book)
- Imina (“real name”)
- Imina reading
- Year of enthronement
- Additional info
You are just interested in line 5 and 6 (with lots of 仁 in it ). 不明 means unknown before you wonder that everyone has the same name
I see what you mean by the recurrence of ひと now in the chart, which is something which I would probably not have found out any other way really. Thanks for that and also the comprehensive explanation. I will keep this …
There seems to be some hesitation to use the “real” name because it was originally a posthumous name, and you shouldn’t call your superiors by that name in general (the so-called “real name evasion” ).
So at least you never hear the name in the news or hear someone use it, but if you are interested you could find it out of course.
Anecdotal evidence is anecdotal
Sometimes a name is just a name.
If you look at the kanji in the name of one of my friends, you might think 久保田 means “long time preserved rice paddy” but I don’t think they think about it like that. To them, it’s just their family name I think.
No, names always have some kind of etymology, even in English. Names like Smith, Cooper, Carter, Miller and so forth are obvious. Names like Stonehouse or Hamilton less so, but still fairly apparent. Then you get Robertson and Johnson and Wilson and so forth.
Etymology =/= meaning
The etymology as in the aforementioned ‘Smith’ is actually a meaning. It just depends on how far back the word came from and whether people actually use those words any longer, whether it retains the meaning in the present time