Friday, June 11, 2010

Run for the border!

In my town, there's a clearly identified demarcation between rich and, less rich. I found myself trying to explain this, and having forgotten the word for border, could only come up with the word 境(さかい), which is almost always used in conjunction with a verb (see below). This confused the person I was speaking with. Which brings me to the subject of this post: how to say "border" in Japanese.

There are a number of words that translate as "border," but the most common is perhaps 境界(きょうかい), seen in the word 境界線(きょうかいせん), or "borderline."

  • 境界(きょうかい): Border, boundary, division. Often used as a standalone noun.

例文: 彼の農場と私の農場との境界はかなり長いです。
The border between his farm and mine is quite long.

Another common one is 国境, which can also take the suffix 線 to denote borderline. But in this case, it specifically refers to (as the kanji reads) a country's border.

  • 国境(こっきょう): National border, frontier
例文: インターネットに国境はない。
The Internet knows no national borders.

In the above example sentence, I used the word metaphorically, but it can also be used more concretely, of course.

例文1: その国境には、トランクの中身を見るチェックポイントある。
There is a checkpoint at the border where they inspect the contents of your trunk.

例文2: 仕事を探すために国境を越える。
I will cross the border to search for work.

Finally, there is 境(さかい), which can refer to a physical border as well as a mental state. It is usually used in a verb phrase. Here are some of the more common ones:

  • 境(さかい): Border; mental state

例文1: 我々の国はいくつかの国々とを接している
Our country borders several others.

例文2: 境を越える
To cross the border

例文3: その川が2つの農場の境を成している
The river forms the boundary between the two farms.

例文4: 生死の境をさ迷う
To hover between life and death.

例文5: 妻の死を境にして、彼の人生観は大きく変わった。
His view of life changed completely after his wife's death.


Mashu said...

境 is a handy one, huh - nice examples! Don't forget the ever-useful 差 though. 貧困層と富裕層の間の差が激しい・大きいとかね。You taking the new JLPT this time around? I've got a university entrance exam and I'm taking the Kanji Kentei this weekend... yikes.

jljzen said...

Thanks! Oh yeah, the 差!I learned another one the other day for gap or difference: ずれ, i.e. 意見のずれ。

As for the JLPT, yeah, I'll be taking N1 this year again. Really, at this point it's just a target to keep me studying. Kanji kentei looks really fun. I wish I had the time to devote to that! What level are you taking?

Mashu said...

Good luck! I'm interested to see to what degree the test structure changes this year.

As for Kanken, it's my first time giving it a try so I'm playing it safe and trying 準2級. The test fee is cheap, so if you know your kanji just grab a past questions booklet and you should be set. 2級 is totally doable, but beyond that it's pretty ridiculous.

JLJZen said...

I went through Heisig up until about 700 then got sidelined with a wedding. I'm a firm believer in rote memorization/writing and rewriting and writing some more as the only way to remember kanji. What's your 特別な技?

Mashu said...

While it's been some time since I finished "studying" kanji, my method was not at all special and perhaps too dull for most sane humans, but it worked for me.

"Kanji in Context." Very simple, basically just a big index of all the regular use kanji (at the time of print 1950 or so) in extremely easy to memorize order, with key words written alongside. I hate excess frills like giving english names to various radicals, so this text was perfect.

While just the ~2000字 are certainly not totally comprehensive, using this as a base I went from zero to essentially total fluency in just around a year - I heartily recommend it. Lots of writing, and lots of reading real-world material will do it.