Monday, June 29, 2009

"I Hate 'Big Brother'": The Daily Kanji

Police in Toyohashi City, Aichi Prefecture, say they have arrested a minor suspected of damaging police direct-dial emergency telephones and vending machines installed with anti-theft sensors. The 19-year-old has reportedly freely admitted to the crimes, which occurred near railway stations and bicycle parking areas in the city. Vending machines, whose Japanese name, 自動販売機 (jidouhanbaiki), literally means self (自;ji) moving (動;dou) vending (販売; hanbai) machine (機; ki), are ubiquitious in Japan and sell everything from beverages (soft drinks, canned coffee, energy drinks, as well as alcohol) to rice and cigarettes, and (or so I'm told), in major metropolitan areas, the foregoing as well as women's undergarments (New?, Pre-owned?) and stag beetles. The machines have become increasingly sophisticated, with new models equipped with cameras and sensors to prevent the purchase of booze and smokes by minors, as well as other crimes. According to police, the young man, a truck driver, says he objected to the devices, emblems of an Orwellian surveillance society. As for the kanji 動, which denotes movement, it is used in the compounds 動物 (doubutsu; moving thing, or animal) and 自動車 (jidousha; self-moving vehicle, or automobile). Finally, when the radical for person is placed first, the resulting character means "to work or labor": 働く (hataraku).

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