March 23, 2010

Let's Get Funkei



Recently, I ran across a post about the phrase 刎頚の友 (funkei no tomo, or decapitation friend), which seems to translate as "a friendship that could survive mutual beheadings." Be sure to check out the comments on the post for the origin of this phrase and how it may relate to seppuku.

I got interested in the kanji 刎, which seemed to be supplying the cutting meaning of the compound (頚 means neck) at that point. It's made from 勿 (absence) and 刀 (sword). It appears in the word 刎ねる (haneru) which means many things including flip, spatter, hit with a vehicle, and of course chop off a head.

Here are some other goodies WWWJDIC supplied for me:
刎 words:
刎 [はね] (suf,ctr) (arch) counter for helmets, etc.
刎死 [ふんし] (n,vs) decapitating oneself
自刎 [じふん] (n,vs) committing suicide by slitting one's throat
刎ね上がる [はねあがる] (v5r,vi) to jump up, to spring up


Intriguingly, a word with the same pronunciation as funkei, 焚刑, means burning at the stake. That may have led to some confusion at the courthouse, eh? Ha, ha, I kill me.

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Bonus morbid knowledge: Ladies don't do seppuku, they commit jigai.

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