(2017-05-10, 11:14 am)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote: Which begs the question: why did Heisig choose the secondary, more obscure usage of this character?
<dons flame-retardant suit>
For all the obscure keyword characters (the ones where you have to look in a 大 or a 旧 dictionary) the answer is probably some combination of:
- The obvious keywords were already taken by other characters.
- There was a really easy mnemonic story with the obscure keyword.
- Heisig didn't know which meaning was more obscure (from some combination of not yet really speaking Japanese, antiquated language in study materials, and not being able to predict future changes in the language.)
At the time Heisig's primary (only?) measure of how common a given meaning for a kanji was would be how many words it appeared in, or how often it appeared in examples in his study materials or dictionaries. Dictionaries, at least 国語 ones are fond of citing classic literature too, which wouldn't help clarify the matter.
However, there have been several (6?) editions though, and at least some had changes to the keywords and the character ordering - and which characters to include. Which means there must be enough of the first two reasons (keywords taken, easy mnemonic stories) that he didn't want to change it.
That said, you can always pick your own keyword (checking the list of keywords for conflicts) if you want to use a more common meaning. Even if you don't speak Japanese yet, there are a lot of resources now for identifying common words - inclusion in small or medium JE dictionaries, the common tag in JMdict based dictionaries (e.g. jisho.org), or simply checking a frequency list or frequency-list based anki/memrise deck.