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It is not easy to tell people about freedom [2]

From: Akira Urushibata
Subject: It is not easy to tell people about freedom [2]
Date: Thu, 12 Nov 2020 09:04:21 +0900 (added by address@hidden)

"Jiyuu" is widely used as a translation of "free" but it is not an
exact equivalent.  There are historic and cultural reasons behind
this.  One cultural aspect that is often overlooked by foreigners is
that Japanese is written in kanji, which are semantic characters.

The "ji" means "self."  This is easily understood to any student of
Japanese past the introductory level.  Its character was originally a
picture of a human nose.  Japanese schoolchildren learn this character
in second grade.
"Yuu" is abstract and less obvious.  Only etymology are aware of the
legacy.  Long ago, perhaps more than 3000 years ago it meant "gourd"
and was expressed with a picture thereof.  In ancient China, as in
many parts of the world, the gourd was often crafted into an vessel
for porting water.  This tool made long journeys possible.  "Yuu" now
means "cause" "reason" or "wherewithal."  Japanese schoolchildren
first learn this character in third grade.  It should be noted that it
some compounds must be memorized before one can grasp the abstract

Thus "jiyuu" translates literally to something like "being the
director of one's self" or "self motivated."  This is obvious from the
characters employed to any literate Japanese.

There are some notable differences between "free" and "jiyuu."  "Free"
is used in expressions like "cholesterol-free" "free of impurities"
"people free from want" while "jiyuu" is not.  "Jiyuu" would never
appear in a manual page for the free() c library function.  A separate
Japanese word "kaihou" which means "release" is appropriate in this

"Jiyuu" is much better than "furii" but it has limitations.  Those who
wish to promote free software philosophy in Japan, Korea or China
should be aware of this.

To be continued.

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