Special for This Month (June 2003)
Mandala Taught by Forest (8) - Images of the Left and the Right -

森が教えてくれたマンダラ (8) - 左と右のイメージ -


. . . .

このページの日本語

Here is about another feature of thinking in English.
If you are an only English user, have you ever had an idea like this?
今回も前回に続いて英語文化を育てたイメージ展開について語ります。



the left side  (左)

the right side (右)

the both sides (両側・左右)

Images of the Left and the Right

A human has two arms on both sides of its body.
Both hands work collaborating with each other
mainly in front of the body, being helped by vision,
hearing and their own sense of touch and memory.
Most people use their right hand for a major role in a work,
and the left hand usually corresponds to it.

This is common among humans worldwide.
So perhaps all people have distinguished
left and right sides since old days, in the manner
of the side as of the hand for using a knife etc.
Do you think that the images of the left/right direction
are also similar in the world?

In old China, an oracle/priest always held the vessel
putting the prayer  in his right hand, and held a tool
for ritual in his left hand, when seeing  a god.
Then the simplified shapes of a hand with the vessel
and a hand with the tool turned into the characters of
right and left.  (“Ji-To” by Shirakawa Shizuka )

These symbols had to be easily read, while only
oracles/priests could write/read.
Perhaps because the vessel was regarded as more
important than the tool, the image of the right direction
has had more weight than the left one in  China.
Now Japanese word, Sa-Sen or left-moving means degradation,
since this word was imported from China.

The English word left started by
the meaning of ill/weak in old time.
And the root of the word right in Indo-European language
meant to move in a straight line/lead. It would be clear that
the useless image linked to the left hand and the
impulsive image linked to the right hand, and the words
the left and the right added the meanings of
each direction of the side of one’s body.

It must not be reasonable for left handed people, but the
meanings of right has stretched and covered so widely.
Right of a right line/a right angle/right now is closer to
the original meaning. Right is used for answering as
to agree, it’s correct
, all right is used for no problem
or healthy, and yeah, right is used when you don’t believe
what the other said.
The meanings of right beside related to the direction
cover true, correct, normal, appropriate, a good condition,
and allowed, advantages, legal permission etc. as the noun form.
Through the development of this single word, you can see
the process of the English culture, in which promoting with
efficiency and healthy through logic in one-line is the justice,
and all are encouraged to have the rights to practice it.

The alphabet/the written phonetic system in one line, and
the thoughts by a balance also have supported the development
of this word and its culture. English users unconsciously tend
to think in the cause of this sort of justice  by this tradition,
using efficient things aggressively, and leaving useless things
behind. Left (opposite word of right) has also the same spelling
to the past and the participle of the verb, leave)

In old Japan, Sa-Daijin/the left-minister was in the higher rank
than U-Daijin/the right minister. In Japan now, images from China,
the traditional culture and English coexist. Is it really right
to precede efficiency and stronger power in the global society?

Please ask questions to the forest in your heart/body.
Does your right hand work by itself?
After you painted walls with your right hand all day long, haven’t
you found strain in your left shoulder more than the right?
Don’t you think that the most important thing to make
your best job is the harmony of both hands?

By way of parenthesis, the characters for the left and
he right directions
in Earth Language (EL) were simply set
for only the symbols of these directions, using easily
recognizable arrows.

e.g.
(the left): designates that side of one’s body()
which is toward the west() when one faces north().
The images of the left and the right directions must be
different by each individual and circumstance.
You can use the characters in your own way, but only for private reasons.

Rights (as justice) is a tricky word. The justice that George believes
is sometimes regarded as wrong by Hana or Ali.
By time, place and situation, social rights always change.
In the global society, it would increase frictions and dangers
to use the word rights carelessly.

So in my tentative idea for EL, there is no character for such
almighty meanings as right has.

: reply to agree to what the other said
: (subjectively) advantageous/convenience
: direct (with relation),
: fact (real happening),
: sincere (with heart)… etc.
According to the true meaning, you choose the combination of characters.
is the basis to show penetrate/consistency /true;
the shape points out the heading direction, but at the same time,
it’s illuminating the origin, and connects the origin and the future.

: proper (with rate proportion),
: healthy,
: the right condition of the world/global peace…
For these categories, each character contains
the spinning top shaped symbol (refer to last month ),
instead of the shape going one way.

If you could have this kind of measurement of thoughts,
don’t you feel that your site might change into a little more
harmonious way, shifting your importance from competition
into coexistence?
------------------------
If you know more images of the left and the right directions in other languages,
please share them with us. Also I’d be happy to hear your opinions/critics.
Thank you for your time.

by Yoshiko

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Japanese

左と右のイメージ

ヒトの腕は体の左右に一本ずつある。
両手は、それらに支えられながら、
目や耳からの知覚や自身の触覚や記憶にたよって、
主に体の前方で助け合って働く。
左手は支えに回り、右手が仕事の主役をする人が多い。

人体共通のこんなしくみから察すると、茶碗をもつ手、
箸をもつ手の側の類の左右の区別は、たぶん昔からあっただろう。
左右のイメージも世界中で似てるだろうか?

古代中国の神官は神をたずねるとき、右手に祝祷を
収めた器(口)を、左手には呪具(工)をもつと決まっていて、
それぞれを持つ手が「右」「左」の漢字に象形化したという。
(白川静『字統』)
漢字の使用が神官に限られた時代には、
伝わりやすいシンボルだったに違いない。
呪具よりも祝祷が肝腎だったためか、中国では、右は
左より重いイメージが生じた。
日本にも、格落ちを意味する「左遷」などの言い回しが伝わった。

英語のLeft(左)は、古くは「病気・弱い」の意味から出発したらしい。
そして「右」を指しもするRightは、印欧語の(直線に進む・導く)の
語が語源というから、左手の役立たずや、右手の推進力のイメージに
あわせて、Left,Rightが左・右の表現にも使用拡大されたと推測する。

左利きの人には不都合だが、Rightの意味のひろがりはものすごい。
直角・直交・直ぐなどの「直」の意味を持つのは、語源から容易に
うなずけるが、それが適当・好都合・健康・正しい・事実・正義・権利
へと拡大利用されている。
まっすぐに論理を通して、効率よく、元気に進めるのが正義であり、
みながそうする権利を奨励する文化の発達の鍵と過程が、
このひとつの単語から見えてくる。

前にも書いたが、一直線に論理を通して書き進める
アルファベットのしくみや、前回の天秤思考がこれを支えている。
無意識のうちに英語の利用者は正義をかざし、役立つものを
積極的に使い、役立たずは置いていくのを当然と考えてしまいやすいのだ。
(LeftはLeaveの過去・過去分詞と同じつづりでもある)

伝統的な日本では、左大臣のほうが右大臣よりも位が上だった。
今の日本には、古来の伝統と中国語・英語からのイメージが雑居する。
はたして力強さや効率を優先するのは、ほんとうに「正しい」ことだろうか?

あなたの心の中の、または体の中の「森」に尋ねてみてほしい。
右手は右手だけでことを進めているか?
一日中なれないペンキ塗りをした後など、使った右より、
左肩の疲れが大きくはないか?
いい仕事をするには、左右の調和がまず大切ではないか。

ちなみに地球語の試案では、「左」「右」は単なる方向記号として、
見てわかりやすい矢印で設定した。

たとえば「左」の定義は、
(左): (体)が(北向き)のとき、
(西)にあたる (方向)
と、矢印の向きが関連しあっている。

左右の方向のイメージは個人や状況によって異なる。
どんなイメージに使うのも自由だが、あくまで個人的にだ。

「正しい」ということばは曲者だ。Jorge くんが正しいと信じることが、
HanaやAli にも正しいとはかぎらない。
地域や時間とともに社会の正義はうつろう。
グローバル社会でRightの安易な使用は摩擦をふくらませて危険だ。

だから地球語試案では、オールマイティーなRight的用語を持たない。

: 相手の言へ肯定の返事・
:  主観的に「好都合」・
:  直接, :事実, :誠実など内容にそくして組替えて書き分ける。
一貫性を示す記号は、進行方向を指してはいるが、
同時に元の方向を照らして源と先を結ぶ形だ。

: 適合, : 健康,
: 世界のRightな状態を表すとき、一方に進む記号ではなく、
動きの中の調和を示す回転するコマ記号を使う。(前回参照

こんな思考の尺度を使えば世界がもう少しまるく見え、
競争より共存をイメージしやすくなりはしないだろうか

Yoshiko (June.1,'03)

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