Stories
Typography

It might interest you to know that in about the 1960s Japanese researchers were working with a man, who had had a stroke, and lost the use of the right side of his brain.  As a result, he could no longer read the Kanji (Chinese pictorial) characters of the Japanese language, but he could read the Kana (phonetic) characters, which are used for foreign words and to express tense and other generic ideas.  This started to show that Japanese and Chinese understand language in an entirely different way from westerners.  An example is the word for man (Japanese "otoko"), which is written like this: 男.

 

In various tests, hundreds of which I've carried out personally, when asked in which direction this man is going, 90% of Japanese say to the left, while 90% of westerners say to the right.  The top part of this character is a rice field, and the bottom part is strength, represented by a fighter feet collected under his weight, with his feet ready to lash out at an enemy.  So, for a Japanese, this image means "strength in a rice field," while westerners  think of leaning into adversity or forging ahead, so our bias is for the rightward movement.  This very interesting article seems to be referring to the same sense of a difference in understanding language.    

 

I have told this story many times.  It was told April 25, 2014 in response to an article a friend shared with me:  Petroglyph's Rock Art or Rock Writing?

 

I tell this story as an illustration of how different nationalities perceive language entirely differently.

 

 

 

Skip Conover is an international businessman, author and artist. He is a Founder of the Archetype in Action™ Organization .  You can follow him and his work on Twitter using @skip_conover  or on Pinterest .  Skip is the author of Tsunami of Blood  .  

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