In the last post, we looked at the kanji that came from a front view of a person with hands and legs spread wide, which was 大. In this post we are going to look at the kanji that came from the same image except that it included the ground. A person, 大, and standing on the ground, 一, together became the kanji shape 立.
(1) The kanji 立 “to stand”
In the oracle bone style of the kanji 立, in brown, a man standing on the ground was viewed from the front. Where one stood in court signified his position or rank. From that it originally meant “position” and “to stand.” In bronze ware style, in green, the person on the left appeared to be twisting his body with his two feet apart. The sample on the right side had a person and the ground. In ten style, in red, the two standing legs were emphasized.
The kun-yomi 立つ /ta’tsu/ means “to stand,” and is in 立ち上がる (“to rise up” /tachiagaru/), 目立つ (“to stand out” /meda’tsu/), 立場 (“standpoint; situation” /ta’chiba/) and 成り立ち (“beginning; origin” /naritachi/). Our Kanji Portraits blog examines kanji from the viewpoint of 漢字の成り立ち (“makeup of kanji; history of kanji” /kanji no naritachi/). The on-yomi /ri’tsu/ is in 直立 (“upright” /chokuritsu/), 立法 (“legislation; law making” /rippo’o/), 立派な (“praiseworthy; impressive” /rippa-na/). It has another on-yomi /ryu‘u/ in the word 建立する (“to erect a temple or shrine” /konryuu-suru/).
(2) The kanji 位 “position; status; approximately; ranking”
By adding a bushu ninben, “person,” we get the kanji 位 “position; status,” which was also a part of the original meaning of the kanji 立. In fact in oracle bone style and bronzed ware style, they were the same — None of the many samples of oracle bone style or bronze ware style had a person on the left. (There were four oracle bone style samples and seven bronze ware style samples in the reference.) In addition to the meaning of “position; status” it is also used for approximation when used with quantity words such as どの位 (“how much” /donogurai/ or /donokurai/), 二十人位 (“approximately 20 people” /nijuuningu’rai/). In the Japanese keigo system (敬語 /keeo/), rather than directly addressing to a person, you often refer to the place where the person is situated, such as どちら様 (“who” honorific word, /do’chira-sama/) from the literal meaning of a person of which direction, The kanji 位 is also used when referring to people unspecified, such as お客様各位 (“Dear customers” /okyaku-sama ka’kui/) in writing. 位 is also used as a suffix for ranking from where one stands.
The kun-yomi /kurai/ means “position; status.” When used as a suffix of quantity words, such as 一週間位で (“in about a week” /isshuukangu’rai de/), 二ヶ月位かかる (”it takes approximately two months” /nikagetsu-gu’rai kaka’ru/), the kanji 位 can be pronounced either /ku’rai/ or /gu’rai/. The on-yomi /i/ 各位 (“dear all” in writing /ka’kui/), 地位 (“position; status” /chi’i/), 位置 (“location” /i’chi/), 第三位 (“the third place” /da’i-sa’n-i/),
(3) The kanji 粒 “granule”
For the kanji 粒, in pre-ten style, in gray on the left, the left side 立 was used phonetically for /ryu’u/, and the right side was “food.” It meant “rice; grain; food.” In ten style the left side 米 was “rice,” and the right side 立 was used phonetically. Together they originally signified “rice.” The small pieces such as rice and other grains gave the meaning “granule.”
The kun-yomi /tsu’bu/ means “granule,” and is in the phrase 粒よりの〜 (“handpicked ~; select ~” /tsubuyori-no ~/) and 一粒の (“a single grain of” /hito’tsubu-no/). The on-yomi /ryu’u/ is in 粒子 (“particle” /ryu’ushi/) and 顆粒の (“granular” /karyuu-no/).
(4) The kanji 泣 “to cry”
For the kanji 泣, the left side of the ten style sample was “water,” and the right side was used phonetically, originally for /ryu’u/, which changed to /kyu’u/. The Setsumon Kaiji’s explanation was that 泣 meant “crying with tears without voice.” Now it means “to cry,” with or without tears.
The kun-yomi /naku/ means “to cry,” and is in 泣きつく (“to implore” /nakitsu’ku/), 泣きじゃくる (“to sob” /nakijaku’ru/) and 泣き言を言う (“to complain; whine” /nakigoto-o-iu/). The on-yomi /kyu’u/ is in 号泣する (“to cry loudly” /gookyuu-suru).
(5) The kanji 並 “ordinary; to queue; equal”
Placing two people standing side by side facing the front created a writing that meant “to stand side by side; queue; equal.” All of the ancient writing shown on the left gave us quite convincing pictures of what they meant. Even after it became kanji, in kyujitai 竝, in blue, it consisted of the two kanji 立, and the meaning was evident. In shinjitai 並, however, the two discreet components coalesced into one shape, and it is no longer easy to see the origin. When two people stand side by side, not standing out from the rest, they are “equal” or “ordinary.”
The kun-yomi 並ぶ /narabu/ means “to queue; line up.” Another kun-yomi 並みの /name-no/ means “ordinary,” and is in the phrase 人並みの生活 (“a decent life like others’” /hitonami-no-seekatsu/), 軒並みに (“at every house” /nokinami-ni/), 並木道 (“a street lined with trees” /namiki’michi/). The on-yomi /he’e/ is in 並列 (“parallel” /heeretsu/).
(6) The kanji 普 “universal”
In the ten style of the kanji 普, the top was two people standing side by side (並), and the bottom was the sun (日). Together the sun shining across people meant “universal.” Universal could also mean nothing stands out, thus “ordinary.” Even though the two kanji 並 and 普 share the same origin of having two people standing side by side, and the kanji 並 had the kyujitai 竝, as far as I could search for, there was no earlier shape that contained 竝 for 普. The kanji 普 was already in use in the Kangxi dictionary. Kyujitai is based on the Kangxi dictionary.
The kun-yomi /amane’ku/ means “universal; everywhere” in a literary style. The on-yomi /hu/ is in 普通 (“ordinary” /hutsuu/), 普遍的な (“universal” /huhenteki-na/), 普及する (“to spread; permeate” /hukyuu-suru/) and 普段 (“everyday; habitual” /hu’dan/).
(7) The kanji 譜 “score; chronological records”
The last kanji we look at in this post is the kanji 譜. It has a bushu gonben “word; language.” The right side 普 was used phonetically to mean “to lay things in sequence; line up.” Together from the meaning that something was stated in an orderly manner, it meant “family lineage chart” or “chronological records.” Now it is also used for “music score” because it spreads sideways.
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /hu/ is in 年譜 (“annuals” /nenpu/), 楽譜 (“music score; sheet music” /gakuhu/), 譜面台 (“music score stand” /humendai/) and 暗譜で弾く (“to play music from memory” /anpu de hiku/).
In the next posts, we will look at the kanji in which a person is viewed from the side. [March 25, 2015]