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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hatasu & hateru - same kanji, very different meanings

The difference between hatasu and hateru.

hatasu 果たす is a Japanese word represented by the symbol for rice paddy on top of the symbol for tree. Its most basic meaning is related to the idea of fruitfulness, bearing fruit, coming to fruition, and in combination with other kanji, it always refers to literal fruit: kajitsu 果実: "fruit"; kashokusei 果食性: "fruit-eating, fructivorous"; kashokudoubutsu 果食動物: frugivore.

Anyway, the most common use of the word hatasu is when describing the carrying out of a public duty (yakume) or pledge/promise (yakusoku), or private/moral duty (gimu) or role (yakuwari) - all of which has obvious connections to the turning out of results that is fruition.

So to perform one's official duty is yakume o hatasu 役目を果たす, to play a role is yakuwaki o hatasu 役割を果たす, and to fulfill a promise is yakusoku o hatasu 約束を果たす.

However, hatasu can be stretched to include the meanings of serve, deliver, put to work, accomplish, live up to. For example, "The city delivered on its promise to improve the quality of drinking water." shi ga inryosui o kaizen suru yakusoku o hatashita 市が飲料水を改善する約束を果たした。Simply to "keep its promise" would be yakusoku o mamoru 約束を守る, so hatasu brings with it the more robust meaning of "delivering on."

Oddly, however, the related word hateru 果てる - the same "ha" kanji but with "teru" attached instead of "tasu," has a completely different meaning. hateru means to peter out, fizz, grind to a halt, die. It is most usually used after words with a somewhat negative meaning, and gives them extra oomph. For example, to be tired is tsukareru 疲れる, but to be tired out, totally pooped, drained, is tsukarehateru 疲れ果てる. To fall to ruin is areru 荒れる and to fall into utter ruin is arehateru 荒れ果てる. To change is kawaru 変わる and to completely change (but for the worse) is kawarihateru 変わり果てる.

These two derivatives of 果 have nothing to do with each other in terms of meaning, but I hope this post can play the role of teaching you the meanings of hatasu and hateru このポーストが果てると果たすの意味を覚えさせる役を果たせばいいと思います。kono posuto ga hatasu to hateru no imi o oboesaseru yaku o hataseba ii to omoimasu!

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