The Kanji 息恥志悩聴 – 心 こころ (3)


In this post we are going to explore the kanji that are made up of a heart 心 and another part of the body. The parts of the body that appear in this post are one’s nose, ear, mouth, foot (footprint), brain, and eye.

(1) 息 “breath”

History of the kanji 息History of the kanji 自The kanji shape 息 consists of two kanji 自 “oneself” and 心 “heart.” On the right side the history of the kanji 自 is shown. In oracle bone style, in brown, it was a nose, with wide nostrils and the bridge in the center. In bronze ware style and ten style, the shape became less picture-like. The nose is in the center of one’s face, and it was used to mean oneself. As you undoubtedly know, in Chinese and Japanese culture when you point at yourself you point at your nose. In western cultures, you would point at the chest. After the shape for the nose was taken to mean “oneself” a new kanji had to be created to mean a nose, 鼻, which has its original shape at the top. For the kanji 息, in ten style it was a nose as a physical feature, rather than meaning “oneself,” and a heart. One breathes through the nose, and breathing carries oxygen to the heart. It meant “breath; to breathe.” The kun-yomi /i’ki/ “breath” is in ため息をつく (“to sigh” /tamei’ki-o-tsuku/). 息をする “to breathe” /i’ki-o-suru/). The on-yomi /so’ku/ is in 消息 (“news about a person (in a distance)” /shoosoku/), 休息する (“to rest; take a break” /kyuusoku-suru/) and 子息 (“someone’s son” in honorific style /shi’soku/). It is also used in the word 息子 (“son” /musuko/).

(2) 恥 “shamed; embarrassing”

History of the kanji 恥History of the kanji 耳In ten style of the kanji 恥, the left side was an ear and the right side was a heart. The history of the kanji 耳 “ear” is shown on the right. In oracle bone style and bronze ware style, the shape of an ear is more recognizable. The shape in ten style was consistent with the shape that appeared on the left side of 恥. When embarrassed, one’s ears become red. From that it meant “to be embarrassed; shame.” The kun-yomi 恥 /haji’/ means “shame,” and is used in the verbal phrase 恥をかく (“to embarrass oneself; disgrace oneself” /haji’-o-kaku/). In an adjective, it is pronounced as /hazu/ in 恥ずかしい /kazukashi’i/ “to feel embarrassed; be ashamed”).  The on-yomi /chi/ is in 羞恥心 (“sense of shame” /shuuchi’shin/).

(3) 志 “aspiration; will”

History of the kanji 志In ten style of the kanji 志, if you look very closely you may be able to see that the top is not quite symmetrical. It was a forward-facing footprint that meant “to go.” [We have talked about two directions of a footprint creating different shapes in the July 5, 2014, post.]  One of the forward-facing footprint shapes became the shape 士, as seen in kanji such as in 売. (It is different from the kanji 士, which came from a warrior’s weapon.)  In the ten style of 志, it was the combination of a footprint “to go” and a heart “will.” Together they signified “where one’s heart desires to go” and it meant “will; aspiration.” The kanji 志 also appears with a bushu gonben in the kanji 誌 “journal.” A journal was where one wrote down his thoughts as he wished.

The kun-yomi 志 /kokorozashi/ means “aspiration,” and its verb is 志す (“to aspire; aim; shoot for” /kokoroza’su/). The on-yomi /shi/ is in 志望者 (“applicant” /shibo’osha/), 志望校 (“the school to which one wishes to get accepted; school of one’s choice” /shibo’okoo/), 同志 (“comrade; each other” /do’oshi/) and 有志 (“volunteer” /yu’ushi/).

(4)  The kanji 悩 “to suffer torment; to be perturbed; worry”

History of the kanji 悩The kanji 悩 in both kyujitai, in blue, and shinjitai had a heart stretched vertically to make space for the right side component. It is the bushu risshinben “vertical heart.” Its ten style writing shown in the Setsumon had a woman on the left side, instead of a heart. Curiously the only explanation I could find was Shirakawa’s (2004) – The ten style writing with a woman on the left came from a particular dialect, and it meant “to be distressed; worry.” Other references do not even mention “the woman” on the left in ten style. So we leave it as it is. In ten style, the right side was a scalp with the brain inside at the bottom and hair at the top. In the last post, we have just seen the same shape of a brain in the kanji 思, which was a baby’s scalp with its fontanel showing.(The kanji 思 did not have hair.) Having a heart on the left and the brain on the right the kanji 悩 meant “to worry; be tormented.” In shinjitai, the three wavy lines of the hair were replaced by a katakana ツ /tsu/ and the bottom became a receptacle and a katakana メ /me/. The kun-yomi 悩む /naya’mu/ means “to suffer torment; to be troubled,” and is in the adjective 悩ましい “disturbing; perturbing” /nayamashi’i/. The on-yomi /no’o/ is in 煩悩 (“earthly desires” /bonnoo/), 子煩悩 (“a person who dotes on his children” /kobonnoo/).

History of the kanji 脳The kanji 脳 — Relatedly, the kanji 脳 “brain” shares the right side with the kanji 悩. The ten style writing shown on the right had a person facing the brain. In kyujitai the left side became a bushu nikuduki “part of the body.” In shinjitai the right side was reduced to the katakana ツ /tsu/ and メ /me/ and a receptacle for the brain.

(5) The kanji 聴 “to listen to”

History of the kanji 聴The oracle bone style of the kanji 聴, (a) on the left, had an ear and two mouths. It signified to listen to words of a god. In bronze ware style the left sample, (b), had an ear and a mouth. The right sample, (c), was a person with an enlarged ear at the top and his legs marked with a short stroke, signifying “standing.” This bottom shape 壬 also appeared in other kanji such as 聖, 廷 and 望, and meant that a man was standing to look far. So, the shape in (c) meant that someone was listening to the words of a god from a distance. In ten style, (d), a set of other elements was added – an eye looking straight with a straight true heart. Does this sound familiar to you? The History of the kanji 徳That is right. It was exactly the same as the right side of the kanji 徳 [in the March 26, 2014, post]. To refresh our memory, the history of the kanji 徳 “virtue” is shown on the right side — now in color (!), thanks to the recolor feature that Microsoft Office has. The kanji 徳 began as an eye with a straight line with a crossroad on the right in oracle bone style, and it developed into the kyujitai which had a straight line of sight, a true heart and a straight forward act (the bush gyooninben), all in one. It means “virtue; personal grace.” In shinjitai, the straight line above the heart was dropped.

Now back to our kanji 聴. In ten style, (d), the elements in (c) from the bronze ware style time and the right side of the kanji 徳 together meant “someone listening to a god’s voice far away with a true heart and eyes that see things straight. In a single English word it means to “listen.” I normally do not draw a lesson from kanji etymology, but once in a while I cannot help doing it. This kanji reminds us that we should humbly and attentively use our ears, heart and eyes when we listen to the words of the God or of people. In kyujitai, (e), the standing person is visible under the ear, but in shinjitai, it disappeared, along with a straight line above the heart. In shinjitai we have an ear, an eye that look straight and a heart to make up the kanji 聴. The kun-yomi 聴く means “to listen to.” The on-yomi /cho’o/ is 聴衆 (“audience; listeners” /chooshuu/), 傾聴する (“to listen attentively” /keechoo-suru/). We still have more to go in discussing the kanji that contain 心. A heart makes us human. So it is not surprising to see it in many kanji. [February 21, 2015]

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