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It’s in the Bag: Part 1

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Recently I’ve shown you koala and kangaroo pictures, and in the past I’ve posted pictures of dogs, giraffes, and yaks. By this point, you should be an expert in animal identification. Based on the breakdowns below, see if you can figure out which animal each compound represents:

袋熊 (fukuro-guma)     pouch + bear
袋狼 (fukuro-ōkami)     pouch + wolf
袋鼠 (fukuro-nezumi)     pouch + mouse

Words for Discussing Pouched Animals …

To block the answers, I’ll present the vitals on the kanji of the moment:

(TAI, DAI, fukuro: (1) bag; sack, pouch; (2) skin of an orange (and other like fruits); (3) dead end; (4) plot of land surrounded by water)

The Etymology of

So many meanings!

By the way, the first on-yomi of is easy to remember, because we so often tie (タイ) bags!

Once again, here’s the koala sign that has prompted this examination of . You can also revisit the breakdown of the words in the sign.



Quiz Results

Now for the results of the quiz (which, by the way, pairs with three non-Jōyō kanji, though some may join the list soon):

袋熊 (fukuro-guma: pouch + bear) means “koala”!

Of course, コアラ is the usual way to say “koala” in Japanese. And a koala is a marsupial, not a bear. This is one instance in which the logic of the kanji doesn’t quite match scientific thinking.

袋狼 (fukuro-ōkami: pouch + wolf) means “Tasmanian tiger” or “Tasmanian wolf.”

These are the same animal, strangely enough. The Tasmanian devil is something separate.

袋鼠 (fukuro-nezumi: pouch + mouse) means “opossum”!

I guess the face of an opossum does resemble that of a mouse! I didn’t realize opossums were marsupials, so in this case the characters have taught me about science!

The female counterparts of all these animals have pouches, as you may have guessed! Now that you understand which animals have bags, you may feel certain of your marsupial knowledge and think it’s all in the bag, but I have another surprise for you. You can bag a female koala, which has its own bag, which may have a female baby koala in it, which has its own bag! Imagine a nested set of Russian dolls. For more on this, check out the pictures at the link.

Koala in a Bag …


Body Bags

During wartime, people unfortunately put bodies in bags. But it also works the other way around; our bodies contain bags! This isn’t hard to imagine; the lungs, bladder, and large intestine immediately spring to mind as large, empty spaces. But those don’t actually involve ; rather, the “flesh” radical appears in the kanji for all those words—sometimes even twice. OK, now you need to know those, right? Right. Here they are:

(hai: lung)
膀胱 (bōkō: bladder)     bladder + bladder
大腸 (daichō: large intestine)     large + intestine

But back to the point at hand, which “body bags” contain ? You probably didn’t guess the ear!

袋耳 (fukuromimi: retentive memory)     bag + ear

Ideally, the ear is a “bag” that catches everything it hears and retains it. Wonderful! It sure is a lot easier to remember mellifluous, distinctive kun-kun constructions such as fukuromimi, as opposed to on-on combinations. (For more on that, see Crazy for Kanji, pp. 103–105.)

And then we have the stomach (and why didn’t that occur to me first?!):

胃袋 (ibukuro: stomach)     stomach + bag

You can also refer to the stomach solely as (i), but there are times when you might want to elaborate on that word, which just seems way too short. A native speaker tells me that 胃袋 is a more relaxed, colloquial way of talking about the stomach. A sample sentence:

Itō-san wa ibukuro ni tabemono o tsumekonda.
Itō stuffed his stomach with food.

伊藤 (Itō: family name)     I sound + wisteria

The first kanji is often used for its sound rather than its meaning; it provides the I sound in proper names. For example, stands for “Italy.” It’s not a Jōyō kanji, but it’s on the Jinmei list of kanji used in names.

食べ物 (tabemono: food)     to eat + things
詰め込む (tsumekomu: to cram, squeeze)
     to cram + to put in

If you stuff that 胃袋 too much, too often, you’ll end up with one of these:

布袋腹 (hoteibara: potbelly)     cloth + bag + belly

This word has some very interesting things going on, as you’ll see at the link.

On 布袋腹

Time for your Verbal Logic Quiz!

Verbal Logic Quiz …