Breathe… relax… you don’t have to know it all

A short post today since real life is starting to be more demanding and clamoring for attention.

Today, I learned a new word: 【準える】

I’m always surprised to see a completely new word based on a Kanji that I’ve probably known for well over 6 years. 「準備」 was probably one of the first few words I learned with Kanji (it helped that the same word in Korean sounds identical). I later picked up other words such as 「基準」、「水準」、「標準」、and 「準決勝」. Later on, I even picked up more advanced vocabulary such as 「準じる」 and the older style: 「準ずる」. And now, after over 8 years since I started studying Japanese, I just learned a completely different word based on the same Kanji.

Another similar example happened to me several years ago with 「集う」, which as far as I can tell is virtually identical to 「集まる」 except used like almost never. At that time, I came upon the word at a local community event at 「川口市」 called 「新年の集い」.

The moral of the story is: don’t worry about learning everything about a given Kanji at once. Relax, give it time, and learn things in context as you go. And whatever you do, DO NOT try to remember all the readings at once. You’ll eventually get to all the various readings and associated vocabulary in time. It might take over 8 years but hey, I’ve been using Japanese happily all these years without knowing 「準える」 precisely because it’s so rare to see it used anywhere.

As an interesting aside, 「なずらえる」 seems to have 3 possible kanji: 「準える・准える・擬える」 but the 「なぞらえる」 reading seems to only accept 「準える」. Probably a modern upgrade, as indicated by older usage of 「ず」 (similar to 「生ずる」、「準ずる」、etc).

5 thoughts on “Breathe… relax… you don’t have to know it all

  1. I’ve definitely seen 擬える, although I guess 準える may be more common. If you google 擬えて and 準えて it looks like the former has about half as many hits as the latter.

  2. To be honest, I didn’t know the Kanji notation 準える, though I knew the word なぞらえる per se.

    Btw, 訓読み originally was merely a way to read and understand archaic Chinese and was something arbitrary.

    According to 大修館:

    So 訓読みs of a 漢字 can be different between dictionaries; or 訓読みs are only de facto standards (except 訓読みs included in 常用漢字表, de jure standards).

  3. 憂(鬱)と言うのは?
    I know when it’s time to learn a kanji when it just keeps popping up, over and over again (even if it has 29 strokes!).

  4. I’m a great fan of your grammar guide, I really learned a lot of theoretical stuff about Japanese while reading it. It hepled me a lot! どうもありがとうございました!:)

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