Funny Kanji 02: Concave, Convex, and Unevenness

The previous installment of Funny Kanji dealt with the issue of kanji that when put together look nothing like their literal meaning…

funnykanji2…but sometimes separate kanji look exactly like what they’re describing. Take the character for ‘concave’. Is it hollow? Check. Is it curved? Ish. Good enough. Now look at the character for ‘convex’. Does it have a surface that is curved and rounded outward? Meh. But good enough to know what is meant.

But what happens when you put ‘convex’ and ‘concave’ together? Suddenly the combine meaning turns into ‘unevenness’. A surface that cannot clearly decide if it is one or the other. In other words, bumpy.

Of all the kanji I’ve studied, these two together are perhaps the most whimsical in my opinion. I affectionately call these two the Tetris of kanji and it brings me great joy to see them in a variety of sentences: from explaining the roughness of the moon’s surface to simply stating that the road is uneven. It’s also quite fun to say with a pronunciation like ‘DEKOBOKO’. Practically rolls off the tip of one’s lips. And if you say it fast enough it sounds like a tongue twister.


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