The Kanji 感情性恐怖怒悲快 – 心 こころ (4)


We are continuing to look at kanji that contain a component “heart.” In this post we are going to look at the kanji 感情悲恐怖怒悲 and 快.

(1) The kanji 感 “feeling; to feel”

History of the Kanji 感The kanji 感 “feeling; to feel” has a rather unexpected origin. The earliest sample we have for this kanji is a ten style sample, but the history of the top, which is the kanji 咸, shown on the right, gives us a better understanding. History of the kanji 咸In oracle bone style, in brown, and bronze ware style, in green, it was a halberd and a mouth, signifying “words.” A weapon was sacred to warriors and it had a fringe or decoration on the blade. In ten style, in red, the decoration became a long line on the left side. With a threat of a halberd, one was to keep the words inside. From that, the kanji 咸 meant “to lock up; shut away; confine.”

For the kanji 感, the bottom had 心 “heart.” Together they meant a feeling that was kept inside or to keep one’s emotion inside. There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ka’n/ is in 感じる (“to feel” /kanjiru/), 感心する (“to be impressed; admire” /kanshin-suru/), 感動する (“to be moved” /kandoo-suru/), 感情 (“emotions; feeling” /kanjoo/) and 感覚 (“sense” /kankaku/).

(2) The kanji 情 “emotion”

History of the kanji 情For the kanji 情 the earliest writing available to us was also in ten style. But the right side 青 had a bronze ware style writing, as shown on the right side. So, let us look at the kanji 青 “blue; fresh.” History of the kanji 青In bronze ware style of the kanji 青, the top was a plant emerging, which signified “fresh; emerging.” It was the precursor to the kanji 生 “life; to be born; person.” (In the kanji 生, the short slanted stroke was added to emphasize the meaning of growing.) The bottom was a well with clean fresh water emphasized by a line inside. Together the kanji 青 meant fresh like growing plants and clean fresh water in a well. The color of fresh water is blue and the color of a growing plant is green. From that the kanji 青 means “blue; fresh.” The color blue often also refers to “green.” Now back to our kanji 情. The heart on the left and 青 “fresh” together signified an emotion that emerges anew in one’s heart.

The kun-yomi is 情 (“pity; sympathy” /na’sake/) and is also in 情けない (“woeful; miserable; deplorable” /nasakena’i/). The on-yomi /jo’o/ is in 感情 (“feelings; emotion”/kanjoo/), 情感のある (“expressive of an emotion” /jookan-no-a’ru/) and 情景 (“sight; scene” /jookee/).

Incidentally all the kanji that contain 青 used to have , in which the water in a well was shown as a short vertical stroke, signifying that the well was not empty.

(3) The kanji 性 “natural character; innate attribute; gender; sex”

History of the kanji 性While we are talking about the combination of a heart and an emerging plant, we should also touch upon another kanji 性. This kanji had the same components as the kanji 情, except the clean water. It meant a heart that one was born with or “innate nature.” From that it meant “natural character; innate attribute; gender; sex; having a tendency of.”

The kun-yomi 性 /sa’ga/ means “nature.” The on-yomi 性 /se’e/ by itself means “sex; gender,” and is in 女性 (“woman” /josee/), 性格 (“characters; personality; nature” /seekaku/), 性質 (“nature; disposition; composition” /seeshitu/). Another on-yomi /sho’o/ comes from a go-on and is in 性分 (“disposition; nature; temperament” /shoobun/) and 根性 (“guts; grit; push” /ko’njoo/).

(4) The kanji 恐 “fearful; to awe”

History of the kanji 恐In the bronze ware style of the kanji 恐 on the left, it was a person holding an instrument or tool (工) with two hands. It was used phonetically to mean “to fear.” Shirakawa (2004)’s explanation is that he was praying to a god as he held up a magic tool. In ten style under the tool a heart was added. The shape on the right side signified a person with two hands. In ten style this shape appears in other kanji such as 熱, 熟 and 藝 (芸), and meant a person handling something with both hands. In the kanji 恐, this shape became simplified to 凡, rather than 丸.

The kun-yomi 恐れる /osore’ru/ means “to fear,” and 恐ろしい /osoroshi’i/ means “frightful; horrifying; horrible.” It is also in a polite attention-getting expression, such as 恐れ入りますが (“I am terribly sorry to bother you, but…”  /oso’re irima’su-ga/). On the Joyo kanji list, this kanji lists only /oso(re’ru)/ as its kun-yomi and does not include the pronunciation /kowa’i/. However, it is widely used for恐い/kowa’i/ “scary; strict.” The on-yomi /kyo’o/ is in 恐慌 (“financial crisis” /kyookoo/), 恐竜 (“dinosaur” /kyooryuu/), 恐縮する (“to be obliged” /kyooshuku-suru/). The literal meaning of the word 恐縮 would be “I dwarf myself being awed,” but I do not think anyone thinks of the literal meaning in using this expression.  恐縮です (“deeply appreciated” /kyooshuku-de’su/) is also used as a formal business expression to express appreciation.

(5) The kanji 怖 “fearful”

History of the kanji 怖Another kanji for “fear” is the kanji 怖. In ten style, the left side was a heart. The right side had a hand and drapery, and was used phonetically for /hu/ to mean “fear.”  The kun-yomi is 怖い /kowa’i/ (“to be scared of”). Compared to the kanji 恐, this kanji tends to mean a more personal emotional experience of a fear. The on-yomi /hu/ is in 恐怖 (“fear; terror; horror” ‘kyo’ohu/), which have two kanji for “fear,” and 畏怖の念 (“sense of awe” /ihu-no-n’en/).

(6) The kanji 怒 “anger; wrath“

History of the kanji 怒In ten style the top of the kanji 怒 was a woman and a hand, which made the kanji 奴 (“fellow; guy” in the current use). The kanji 奴 by itself came from a female slave who had committed a crime. It was used phonetically for /do/ to signify intensity. Together with the bottom 心 “heart,” the kanji 怒 signified the agitated state of one’s heart, which was “wrath; anger.”

The kun-yomi 怒る /oko’ru/ means “to get angry.” Another kun-yomi /ika’ru/ also means “to get angry” in a more literary style and perhaps is a stronger emotion than /oko’ru./ The on-yomi /do/ is in 激怒 (“rage; fury” /ge’kido/) and 怒号 (“roar; outcry” /dogoo/).

(7) The kanji 悲 “sad; grief; sorrowful”

History of the kanji 悲The kanji 悲 consists of 非 and 心. History of the kanji 非The history of the top, which is the kanji 非, is shown on the right. The Setsumon’s account for 非 “different” was the two opposing wings of a flying bird. The two wings are never together. From that it came to mean “to be against; not good; not.”  The shape in ten style appeared almost identical in the kanji 悲.  In the kanji 悲, together with the heart, it signified a heart torn apart in grief, which meant “sorrow; grief; sad.”

The kun-yomi 悲しい /kanashii/ means “sad” and also makes a noun 悲しみ (“sorrow; grief” /kanashimi/).  The on-yomi /hi/ is in 悲観的な (“pessimistic” /hikanteki-na/), 悲劇 (“tragedy” /hi’geki/) and 悲鳴 (“scream” /himee/).

(8) The Kanji 快 “comfortable; pleasant”

History of the kanji 快In the ten style of the kanji 快, the left side was a vertical heart. The right side (夬) was used phonetically for /kai/, and had a knife or weapon and a hand, signifying “to cut.” The related kanji 決 had the same component. The kanji 決 “decisive; decision” came from an action that broke part of a riverbank to prevent flooding. It meant a decisive action after a long deliberation, like water gushing out at breaking of a river flow.

For the kanji 快, which has a bushu risshinben “heart”, we can interpret that it was a state of a mind in which a long held concern, or a weight on over mind, was finally lifted and one felt light-heated and pleasant. The kanji 快 means “pleasant; cheerful.”

The kun-yomi 快い /kokoroyo’i/ means “pleaseant” and another kun-yomi is in 心地よい (“comfortable /kokochiyo’i/). The on-yomi /ka’i/ is in 快適な (“comfortable; pleasant” /kaiteki-na/), 快速電車 (“rapid train” /kaisokude’nsha/) and 快方に向かう (“to get better; be recovering” /ka’ihoo ni mukau/).

We have covered quite a lot of the kanji that contain “heart” in the last four postings. It looks like we need one more posting to wrap up the kanji that are frequently used in the daily kanji. [February 28, 2015]

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