I hear the word Jinsei used frequently in conversation on JTV.  After hearing it one too many times, I finally looked it up.  It has several meanings. Three of the five I’ve listed below contain the kanji for person or people (人). The other two are obviously unrelated.

人生 – life or human life.

人性 – human nature or instinct.

人世  – this world or life

仁政 – benevolent rule

腎性 – renal

All of the above are pronounced the same:  jinsei.

I’m going to assume that most of the conversations I’ve been hearing are either referring to life or human nature.  They mostly seem to be pretty philosophical, so I have to again assume they aren’t talking about their kidneys.  This is where some things can potentially get confusing and I tell my students that when they run into things like this, they have to put things in context (which probably is not so simple).  Jinsei is not one of the words they’re going to encounter in their current levels, but when they begin to learn kanji there are plenty of others to challenge, even on a fairly elementary level.


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