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Kanji-Human Relation-Mother 母

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Illustration and voice by Shou Yukiya Bookmark and Share
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How to remember?

Imagine that the two dots are mother's nipples.

Do not confuse this word with:

which means boat

The difference between "haha" and "okaasan"

The Japanese take interpersonal relation very seriously. They divide the world into two parts, namely, within my cirle and outside my circle. Usually, they change their wordings according to the position of the things they refer to.

That's why a simple English word like "mother" can be translated into at least two Japanese words, namely, はは (haha) and お母さん (okaasan).

When a Japanese is in his home, talking to his family, he is the only one within his circle and all other family members are outside his circle. So he calls his mother "okaasan" to show respect.

But when he talks to his friends or colleagues, he and his family will be within his circle, and the friends and colleagues are outsiders. So he uses "haha" to refer to his own mother and "okaasan" to refer to other people's mother. When a Japanese is talking to you and he says "okaasan" without saying "my" or "your", you know he is referring to your mother.

Furthermore, when he talks to people from other companies or simply a stranger, such friends and colleagues will automatically be within his circle. And wordings will be changed accordingly.