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牛means cow and is pronounced うし(ushi), but ushi doesn't mean cow?

kinjo

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牛means cow and is pronounced うし(ushi), but ushi doesn't mean cow?


Some of you might recognize this kanji 牛.
It's the kanji that means cow and is pronounced as うし in hiragana.

But i found out something weird.
When you put this kanji 牛 into a translator it gives the word cow, in any translator you can find.
So far, so good.
But when you put うし into a translator, then it means something totally different(obtaining).(in all translators)

What is going here, why is this so illogical?
Why does the Japanese language grab me by the balls every time I think I got it figured out?
 

tasuki

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Because there are three scripts and the meaning of words changes whether they are written in kanji or kana, in some cases, although I've never heard that for うし. Out of curiosity, what's this alernate hiragana meaning that you're talking about、I can't seem to pin it in my Japanese dictionary...
 

Elizabeth

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Maybe it is taking the first part of "失う" to lose as to obtain ;) or reading the し as suru. You get all manner of creative renderings and word puzzles by forgetting to kanji-ize.
 

tasuki

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If the sentence is correct, even if the above is written うしなう, the translator should pick it up as 失う。Same goes for the し of する。But I think that Spirit of Atlantis was speaking strictly of inputting the characters 「うし」in an online or pocket Japanese-English dictionary. Am I wrong?
 

Elizabeth

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Originally posted by tasuki
If the sentence is correct, even if the above is written うしなう, the translator should pick it up as 失う。Same goes for the し of する。But I think that Spirit of Atlantis was speaking strictly of inputting the characters 「うし」in an online or pocket Japanese-English dictionary. Am I wrong?
うし at Nifty.com does come up obtains and うしなう as obtains and bends and at altavista The う it does, the う. Maybe it does require some context. :D
 

tasuki

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But that's my point, it doesn't yield うし, but 失う. Which is why I fail to see Spirit of Atlantis' problem...
 

kinjo

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Tasuki you are right.
But if the meaning of a word changes when it's written in a different script, then how do the Japanese know what you mean when you say a word?
Do they have to think like:"Oh he said that word, does he mean that in Kanji, Hirigana or Katakana?".
 

tasuki

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Context, that's all there is to it. The same way an English speaker has to determine the meaning of "bold" for example, from context, because it can refer to a type font or to someone's character.
 

kinjo

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Here's a screenshot of my Kanji learning software...it says うし.
So when I saw that i just put うし into a translator to check it.
And it came out totally different.
I hope this clarifies my problem.
 

tasuki

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Because the recognition engine of your translator recognized "うし" not "牛". That happens a lot. If I look up し in my handy-dandy electronic dic, it yields 10 results (ranging from 史 to 死). If I want to look up death specifically, I have to type 死. Computers are kind of stupid that way...
 

Elizabeth

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Originally posted by tasuki
But that's my point, it doesn't yield うし, but 失う. Which is why I fail to see Spirit of Atlantis' problem...
Can you think of other verbs ending in "na" or "nau" this same rule could be tried on? Strip away the negative and you must be looking for the most opposite meaning possible.
 

tasuki

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適う、叶う、敵う、かなう. Looking up only かな will give you completely different results.

Mix verb and noun
歌謡(かよう; ballad, verse)and 通う。

Basically, writing in kanji circumvents exactly that kind of trouble, which is why I love kanji...
 

winampman

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Originally posted by Spirit Of Atlantis
Tasuki you are right.
But if the meaning of a word changes when it's written in a different script, then how do the Japanese know what you mean when you say a word?
Do they have to think like:"Oh he said that word, does he mean that in Kanji, Hirigana or Katakana?".
yeah.. one kanji could have many different pronouciations and meanings... which makes learning kanji even harder.. :eek:
 

avarame

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Hmm... I think it's your dictionary's fault, Spirit of Atlantis. Responding to the original problem (うし doesn't mean cow)... I input うし into PAdict (Palm J-E dict, based on EDICT). I get one result, (n) cattle, cow. ;)

Wow... who invented this writing system?! Who thought 矢 and 失 were good ideas? *shakes head in disgust*.
 

mdchachi

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I think one problem is that you're trying to put a single word -- a noun -- into a translator. A translator expects complete sentences. The only single word complete sentences in Japanese are verbs. I tried ushi, ashi and nashi on Excite's translator and none of them are translated to nouns.

Excite Translator

I suggest using a dictionary to look up words, not a translator.
Also, as the others have mentioned, some words are usually written in kanji, while some words are usually written in kana. Good translators would know that.
 
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