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Thursday, July 09, 2009

shugi - ism



shugi is an affix in Japanese that crops up all the time. Used at the end of various words, it corresponds to "ism."

The 主 (shu) literally means "main, principal, ruling" and the 義 (gi) is a meaning "cloud" that covers everything from "justice" to "humanity" to "integrity" to "chivalry" to "honor" to "morality" to "significance."
So, put them together, and you have something like "main/ruling object of worthiness/devotion/significance," or, in other words, "doctrine," "principle," "ticket." Conveniently, just as with the English "ism," you stick it on the end of the object of that "devotion."

For example:
資本主義 shihonshugi = capitalism
共産主義 kyosanshugi = communism
社会主義 shakaishugi = socialism
軍国主義 gunkokushugi = militarism
自由主義 jiyushugi = liberalism
保守主義 hoshushugi = conservatism
民族主義 minzokushugi = nationalism
愛国主義 aikokushugi = patriotism
平和主義 heiwashugi = pacifism
商業主義 shogyoshugi = commercialism
毛沢東主義 motakutoshugi = Maoism
帝国主義 teikokushugi = imperialism
個人主義 kojinshugi = individualism

There are times when it doesn't work quite as neatly; for example:
民主主義 minshushugi = democracy
but most of the time it does.

shugi can also be used alone, in the "doctrine, principle" sense. For example,

主義としてやるしかない。Shugi to shite, yaru shika nai. It has to be done [or, "I have to do it"] as a matter of principle.

主義に殉じる。Shugi ni junjiru. To die [sacrifice oneself] for a cause.

主義を支持する Shugi o shiji suru. To support [take up/stand for] a cause.

主義を曲げない Shugi o magenai. To fly one's colors/Nail one's colors to the mast.

So, even if you're not up to talking principles and politics in Japanese, at least, knowing "shugi," you will know roughly when to run - or at least keep your mouth shut!

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