2.2.2 Theoretical Considerations

Because of the very important role that the core meaning plays as a feature of this dictionary, it may be of interest to the user to know some of the underlying theoretical principles.

The core meaning is not an objectively observable linguistic unit. Rather, it is a psychological unit, a basic notion of a character's meaning that conveys, in the famous linguist Edward Sapir's words, its "conceptual kernel." Linguistically, it is not normally possible to isolate any sense of a word or character that will, by a process of logical deduction, make it possible to derive all its other senses. Often, it is not even possible to trace the origin of each sense historically and show how the individual senses relate to the character's original meaning. The core meaning is thus not necessarily the original meaning of the character, though it often is.

The core meaning is often the direct, psychologically most dominant, meaning -- the meaning that might occur to a native speaker if presented with the character in isolation. However, psychological dominance is not the only factor, since the popular meaning associated with a character by the average Japanese may differ considerably from the linguistic facts. Even more important is its ability to show the interrelatedness between the various senses and its frequency of occurrence E}

This section is under construction. Patience, please!.

The table below shows the relationship between the senses of {BRIGHT,} the English term representing the core meaning of 明, the on word element 明 and the independent kun word 明るい

・・・・・・・・ ・ Typical words and word elements represented by 明: ・English term representing ・ ・ ・ core meaning of 明 ・ ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・ ・ 明 ・ 明るい ・ BRIGHT ・ ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・・・ [original meaning] bright, ・・ bright, light ・・ full of light ・ ・ brilliant, light ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ (of colors) bright, light ・・ light (color) ・・ brilliant in ・ ・ ・ (of cheerful disposition) ・ ・ color ・ ・ bright, cheerful ・ ・ ・ ・・・ light ・・ clear, uncorrupt ・・ glorious, splendid ・ ・ ・ be lighted ・ ・ ・ ・・・ clear-sighted, bright, discern-・ ・ ・ ・ ing, intelligent, wise ・・ (of cheerful dis- ・・ promising ・ ・ ・ eyesight ・ position) bright, ・ ・ ・・・ (free from doubt) clear, lucid,・ cheerful ・ ・ ・ distinct, evident, obvious, ・ ・ ・ ・ explicit, manifest ・・ (full of promise) ・・ cheerful ・ ・ ・ make clear, clarify, throw ・ bright, promising ・ ・ ・ light on, prove, demonstrate ・ ・ ・ ・・ (unclouded) clear, transparent, ・E be well versed in ・E intelligent, ・ ・ translucent ・ ・ smart ・ ・E [also prefix] next, the coming ・ ・ ・ ・ (day or year) ・ ・ ・ ・F Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 {A.D.}) ・ ・ ・ ・       : ・ ・ ・ The English term for the core meaning of a character may be viewed as the center of a circle representing that term's area of meaning. Another circle or circles represent the area of meaning of the words or word elements that can be written with that character, as illustrated in the diagram below:

The core meaning is often given by the English term (in this case bright) for which the area of overlap is greatest. Although the meanings of a Japanese word (as 明るい ) or word element (as 明 ) may differ from those of the English term in various details, the central concept they represent is essentially the same. That is, the differences are in the meanings lying toward the outlines of the circles, rather than towards their centers. 明 and {BRIGHT,} for instance, perfectly coincide in their most basic meanings, such as 'brilliant in light', but other senses, such as 'Ming Dynasty', are totally different and thus fall out of the area of overlap.

The core meanings were established by performing an exhaustive analysis of the lexical meaning and word-building function of each character. Each meaning component was carefully analyzed and compared with those of the other members of the same synonym group in order to determine the most precise English term for conveying the meaning, function, and subtle nuances of the character in contrast with those of other closely related characters. Based on a firm theoretical foundation, the core meaning is a highly useful abstraction and effective learning aid.