I have the following in a Zelda guide book I am translating. It is talking about being faced with a problem and trying various ways to solve it (you know the Zelda games). I am interested in "むちゃな". There is no kanji but I believe it is 無茶な. This is a videogame guide book and the target audience is teenagers I believe, from looking at what kanji is used and not used.

そう思える場合は、大抵そのとおりなのだ。 あまりむちゃなアクションを要求されることはない。

This looks to me like "bad tea" (which could mean "absurd" in a way). Is this the correct kanji, and is it common to use this kanji or is hiragana preferred?

Does anybody know the origins of this? Does "bad tea" really mean "absurd"?

if the next line helps:



First, 無茶 wouldn't be interpreted as bad tea. 無 means "no" as in "nothingness," not bad. As such, one might be led to believe that this is something about not having any tea to give to guests or something, and that situation being where the term came from. This is not true.

The kanji 無茶 are ateji. This means that the kanji were chosen arbitrarily based on the pronunciation of the word. This site suggests that the word itself is derived from an old Buddhist term, 無作{むさ}, though that appears to be ultimately speculative. Regardless, though, the word is not connected to tea.

  • I have heard of such a thing but didn't know it had a specific term (ateji). I am probably looking for a meaning where one does not exist (I'm an engineer so it's how I work lol). And so would you say this is a kanji I should use, or should I stick to the hiragana (if I were writing an email to friends)? Mar 17 '14 at 9:42
  • @VictorySaber It's usually written in kana. You'll sometimes see the kanji aroud, though, often in the compound 無茶苦茶
    – ssb
    Mar 18 '14 at 1:39

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