Wednesday, September 30, 2009

人 (ひと) is not a complicated word. It means "person." What is complicated about it is the many different readings of this kanji. Depending on the context, this kanji is read either "ひと," "とり," "たり," "じん," or "にん." When speaking of "man" or "people" in general, you are almost certain to pronounce it "ひと." 人人 (ひとびと, more appropriately written 人々), as the picture would imply, means "people," or "each person." When speaking of just one person, though, you have many options. じん and にん are used as suffixes to indicate that the subject is a "something-person," i.e. 日本人 (にほんじん), "Japanese person," and 浪人 (ろうにん), a "masterless samurai (or more literally, "unrestrained person")." とり and たり are used in conveying numbers of people, exemplified in the words 一人 (ひとり), "alone" (literally "one person") and 二人 (ふたり), "together" (literally "two people")

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