Thursday, September 29, 2005

What does 간만(干滿) really mean?

간만(干滿) means the "ebb and flow" of the tide. 간조(干潮) is "low tide," and 만조(滿潮) is "high tide." 간(干) and 만(滿) are supposed to be opposites, but they did not seem like opposites to me, so I looked up their definitions.

간(干) means "shield," but it also has a few other meanings, including "attack," "pursue," "participate," and "dry." Among these meanings, "dry" seems to be the only one that comes closest to being the opposite of 만(滿), which means "full" or "abundant." "Dry" and "full" do not really seem like good opposites to me, but if you are talking about water, which is implied by the "water" radical, 氵(수), in 만(滿), then maybe they could be considered opposites. Nevertheless, I still do not like it.

So, a literal translation of 간조(干潮) and 만조(滿潮) would be "dry tide" and "full tide," respectively.

By the way, if you add "water" to "dry," what do you get? Well, the Chinese think you get "sweat," 汗(한). The logic? You charge in and penetrate the skin with your "shield" (干) and "water"(氵) comes out. Inscrutable? Yes, I think so, too.


  1. 앗, you missed 奸!

    The reason I thought it was especially relevant is, to quote 古漢於常用字字典, "In the old days, 奸 and 姦 were two words with distinct pronunciations and meanings. 奸 meant "disturb," while 姦 meant "evil." Later, it was possible to write 姦 as 奸. 古代“奸“和”姦“是两个字,音义各不相同。“奸“是干扰的意思,”姦“是邪恶的意思。到了后代,”姦“也可以写作“奸。“

  2. Hi Taemin,

    What a coincidence. I was actually trying to understand the character 奸(간) before I got sidetracked in writing the above post. However, I did not know that 奸(간) was also the abbreviated version of 姦(간).

    Women in old China must have been pretty bad because there seems to be an unusually high number of bad-meaning Chinese characters associated with them. Besides 奸(간) and 姦(간), there is also the following:

    妬(투): extreme jealousy
    嫉(질): be jealous
    妨(방): disturb; interfere with
    嫌(혐): dislike; be suspicious of
    妄(망): false; untrue

    There are probably more, but those are the only ones I could quickly find.

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  4. (oops, I screwed up one of the links)

    Oh, well we know that ancient Chinese women were evil. From that famous 경국지색 서시, on down to 양귀비, and beyond. ^^