Thursday, March 31, 2005

Introducing A Bit Of Culture

Here is my MS Word picture of the Korean family name "Ham" in Chinese characters. I kinda like it. Took a little while to draw too. Not that the English Ham and the Korean Ham are descended from the same person, but, what the hell.


Nick Souter said...

Doesn't look anything like a ham! Not sure about Korean, but Chinese characters are originally developed from pictures (a tree was a picture of a tree etc) and over thousands of years slwoly developed into line characters, most still resembling the original picture slightly, but I can't see any ham in your character. Although I do see a samurai sword looking like it might be coming down on a chopping board (about to chop some ham?)

Hammy said...

I thought that it looked more like the hangman's noose than a samurai sword.

Maybe I should have explained myself a little bit better. This is the Chinese character that Koreans use for the family name Ham, which is pronounce a little more like "harm".

I think it is fascinating that Koreans, of the older generation, used Chinese characters until Hangul was really accepted. Miky can read a great deal of Chinese but only with the Korean pronounciation - the meaning is still the same. Very useful if you are travelling to Chinatown or eating at a Chinese restaurant. Mind you, she finds Chinese food in Chinese restaurants to be too greasy and so consequently we don't eat out much.

The Japanese are even stranger in that half of their Kanji are actually Chinese characters and they have made the other half up by themselves. Koreans didn't mess with it and they have more characters in general use. I think the Japanese use only 1900 kanji, correct me if I'm wrong, and Miky has a translation dictionary with some 5000 Chinese characters.

You won't find the Ham character in Japanese and I had to go to a bit of trouble to find a Korean who knew this character as a family name.