10.04.2006

Flash Blast People

While I was trolling around Wikipedia today, I came across their article on the Hibakusha. They translate the word as "explosion-affected people." However, if you were given only the kanji 被,爆, and者, you would never be able to come up with "atomic-blast victim." The problem is that the word is a hybrid of Japanese onomatopoeia and real kanji meaning.

Hi, along with ki, pi, and some other similar sounds, are the sounds of light. Ki and pi are used to represent points of light such as stars in the sky or bright point reflection. Other sounds like hi and gi are used for powerful (and often overwhelming) light sources. The quality of the sound is intended to emulate the quality of the light. The kanji doesn't carry any meaning that would indicate light.

Paku is the sound of a small clap, slap, or popping sound. Baku is the sound of an explosion or blast. shows up in just about any word that involves an explosion. But it's unclear to me if the kanji always had the "blast" meaning, or if through the frequent use for the baku sound, it aquired the "blast" meaning through association.

is the only really straightforward part of the word, meaning person/people.

Hibaku is essential the Japanese way of describing the atomic blast. Flash Bang. The bright flash of the nuclear fire, followed by the concussion of the shock wave. There are some other words used to name the bomb (I seem to remember gibon used somewhere, but I wouldn't quite me on that.).

Flash Blast People.

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