The Kanji 孰熟塾享築恐工 – the component 丸凡 (2)


This is the second half of our exploration on the kanji components that contain a person with two hands reaching forward.

C. 孰 “hands cooking food thoroughly”

7. The kanji 孰 “either; anyway”

History of Kanji 孰The rarely used kanji 孰 in 孰れ /izure/ “either; which option; future; anyway” is not a Joyo kanji, but its history, shown on the left, helps us to understand the two kanji, 熟 and 塾. In oracle bone style of the kanji 孰, in brown, the left side was a cooking stove with a lid on top. The right side was a person who was cooking with his two hands above the stove. They meant “to cook food thoroughly.” In bronze ware style, in green, the upper left became a multiple layered cooking stove and the lower left appeared to be a woman. The right side was a person with two hands. In ten style, in red, the lower left was replaced by “sheep” 羊, which signified tasty meat or food. In kanji the lower left was replaced by 子.

There is no on-yomi word for this kanji, but it was borrowed in kun-yomi words in classical literature to mean “either; which; future.” It may be related to the original meaning of the right side of the kanji having the meaning of “to grab; take.” The kun-yomi is 孰れ /izure/ but the words that could use this kanji are usually written in hiragana nowadays. They include いずれ (孰れ) (sometime in the future), いずれかを取る (“to choose either one” /izureka’ o to’ru/) and いずれにせよ (“whichever the case may be; at any rate” /izurenise’yo/). Those expressions are frequently used in polite or business speech.

History of Kanji 享&亨Notes on 享 (亨) to mean “cooking.”– The left side of the kanji 孰 by itself is the kanji 享 (a Joyo kanji) and it means “to receive” (/uke’ru/ in kun-yomi and /kyo’o/ in on-yomi, in words such as 享受する “to enjoy” /kyo’oju/.)  Another kanji 亨 “through; to cook through” (only used in a name now) shared the same origin. When a bushu rekka or renga, “fire,” is added at the bottom to 亨, it made the kanji 烹 (/ho‘o; po’o/) and meant “cooking.” 割烹料理 /kappooryo’ori/ means “Japanese style cooking.” A white cooking apron that any housewife used to wear over the kimono is called 割烹着 /kappo’ogi/. It covered the sleeves of the kimono and wide area in front through most of the back. Nowadays most people use a western style apron, but some school children still wear them on their lunch service duty 給食当番 /kyuushoku-to’oban./

8. The kanji 熟 “to mature; ripen”

By adding a fire (bushu renga or rekka) at the bottom of the kanji 孰, we get the kanji 熟. There is no ancient writing for this kanji. Putting food on a fire signified “cooking thoroughly,” and from that it meant “to ripen; thoroughly.” The kun-yomi 熟れる /ure’ru/ means “(fruit) to ripen.” The on-yomi /ju’ku/ is in 熟する “to ripen” and in 機が熟する (“ripe opportunity” /ki’ga jukusu’ru/). It is also in 完熟トマト (“ripe tomato”  /kanjukuto’mato/), 未熟な (“immature” /mijukuna/), 早熟な子供 (“precocious child” /soojuku-na kodomo/), 熟睡する (“to sleep soundly” /jukusui-suru/). More recently the word 熟年層 (“mature people; middle aged and older” /jukune’nsoo/) has appeared as the older population gets more attention.

9. The kanji 塾 “private tutoring classes”

Adding 土 “soil; ground” to the kanji 孰, we get the another kanji 塾 /ju’ku/. There is no ancient writing for this kanji. It meant a place where students were educated privately. Juku 塾 is now a part of Japanese education, which is rigidly competitive. A large number of children attend after-school classes where they deepen their understanding of lesson materials. The meaning of ripening or cooking thoroughly is applied to learning and thinking — I find this very interesting. Tuition can be a burden on the parents, who feel that they do not have a choice if they want the best for their children. The kanji 塾 does not have any kun-yomi.

D. 凡 “hands holding a tool” in 築恐

The fourth component that teams up with the shape that originated with “a person kneeling down with his two hands forward” resulted in the shape 凡, not 丸. We look at two kanji, 築 and 恐 here.

10. The kanji 築 “to build; construct”

History of Kanji 築In the bronze ware style writing of the kanji 築 the top was bamboo and the lower left had the shape 工 “craft work” and 木 “tree; wood.” The right side was a person kneeing down with his hands out. Bamboo and wood signified construction materials. So, altogether they meant that a person was engaged on building something using wooden boards and bamboo sticks. In ten style the position of these four components remained the same. The kanji 築 meant “to construct; build.“ The kun-yomi 築く /kizu’ku/ means “to construct; build.” (Please note that when you write the word 築く in hiragana, you write きずく, whereas the same pronunciation verb 気付く is written in きづく.)  The on-yomi /chi’ku/ is in 建築 (“architecture” /kenchiku/), 建築家 (“architect” /kenchikuka/) 構築する (“to construct” /koochiku-suru/).

History of Kanji 筑The top without 木 is another kanji, 筑. Even though it has the same meaning “to construct; build,” it is only used in names of an area or a person in Japanese. It is believed to be the earlier shape of the kanji 築, but there is no bronze ware style sample available to us for 筑.

11. The kanji 恐 “to fear”

History of Kanji 恐(2)The kanji 恐 contains the middle component of the kanji 築. The meanings of these two kanji differ drastically. In fact we have already looked at the kanji 恐 in an earlier post [February 28, 2015] in the context of 心 “heart.” This time I am adding a couple more writing samples, (b) and (c), in the development shown on the left side. In bronze ware style (a), a person kneeling down was holding something with two hands. A later bronze ware style, (b), and (c) in the Setsumon kobun (古文), an older style writing cited in Setsumon Kaiji, had only 工 and a heart. How did the two shapes 工 and 心 lead to the meaning “to fear”?  The answer must be in the shape 工.

History of Kanji 工(frame)The development of the kanji 工 is shown on the right. A simple shape such as 工 allows all kinds of interpretations, including — a carpenter’s ruler; two boards connected with a stick; a work area for pounding iron; or a tool in a religious rite.  Shirakawa (2004)’s explanation was that it was a tool for magic or spells and that the writing meant the person was praying to a god as he held up a tool for magic or a spell. From “fear of god” it meant “fear.” An interpretation that involves magic or spells in ancient times is not something I feel very comfortable with, but for this kanji other interpretations do not seem to add up convincingly to me. So, I leave as it is.

History of Kanji 凡(frame)Incidentally the shape 凡 by itself is a kanji /bo’n; ha’n/ “general; ordinary,” but the origin is totally unrelated as you can see on the right side.

Now let us summarize the two posts in which we have looked at kanji that originated from a person doing something with two hands. By the way the shape is called /geki/ but there is absolutely no need for us to know. We have two tables to help us for our review:

Table1History of Kanji Component 丸凡

Table 1 shows:

(1) We now know what the original shape of the kanji component 丸 or 凡 looked like – it was a kneeling person with his two hands reaching forward. From that the kanji component 丸 or 凡 pertains to an act that one does using two hands.

Table 2 Four Comibination Types of 丸凡

Table 2 shows the following:

(2) There are four types of shapes that appear on the left side of 丸 or 凡, each forming a different meaning.

Type A, in the kanji 熱勢藝 (芸), had a plant to grow on the left side. Together they pertained to hands used to grow a plant, rigorously and skillfully.

Type B, in the kanji 執摯, had a handcuff on the left side. Together they pertained to the authority to carry out a job or the manner of carrying out a job.

Type C, in the kanji (孰)熟塾, had a cooking stove on the left side. Together they pertained to heat or to heat up thoroughly.

Type D, in the kanji 築恐, had a craft or tool on the left side. Together they pertained to building or casting spell with a tool to instill “fear.”

I will not be able to post an article for the next two or three weeks but hope to resume in June. Thank you very much for your interest in reading this blog. Noriko Williams  [May 16, 2015]

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