The Kanji 困因囚圏囲(圍)古固個回四 – くにがまえ (2)


As the second post on kanji that have the bushu kunigamae “enclosure” and related kanji, we are going to look at the kanji 困因囚圏囲(圍)古固個回 and 四.

  1. The kanji 困 “to be in trouble; be inconvenienced”

History of Kanji 困For the kanji 困, in oracle bone style, in brown, and ten style, in red, it was a standing tree inside an enclosure, and it is commonly explained as “a tree inside a tight space that could not move,” thus it meant “to be in trouble.” Setsumon also gave the shape (b) as its old style, in gray. In it the top was a footprint (止) and the bottom was wood (木), together signifying a wooden latch that stopped someone from coming in through an entrance. Shirakawa takes the original meaning to be “closing time; lockup,” and by extension it meant “to be in trouble; be inconvenienced.”

The kun-yomi 困る /koma’ru/ means “to be troubled; be inconvenienced.” The on-yomi /ko’n/ is in  困難 (“difficulty” /ko’nnan/) and 貧困 (“poverty” /hinkon/).

  1. The kanji 因 “to depend; based on; relatedly”

History of Kanji 因For the kanji 因, inside was a “person” (大) in oracle bone style, bronze ware style, in green, and ten style. The outside rectangle shape signified a floor mat for a person to sleep on. So it was an image of a person sleeping that was viewed from above. From something that one used in daily mundane life such as a place to sleep on, it meant “conventional,” and then it was extended to mean “to be based on; depend on” (Shirakawa). Another explanation (the Kadokawa dictionary) is that a sleeping mattress was something one was on, and from that it gave the meaning “to be based on; depend on.”

The kun-yomi 因る /yoru/ is used in Xによると (often in hiragana) “based on X; according to X.” And another kun-yomi 因む /china’mu/ is used in Xに因んで (“after X” /X ni china’nde/). The expressionちなみに /chinamini/ means “while we are on the subject; in connection with.” The on-yomi /i’n/ is in 原因 (“cause” /gen-in/), 死因 (“cause of death” /shiin/) and 因果関係 (“cause and effect” /ingaka’nkee/).

  1. The kanji 囚 ”captor; to be seized; be shackled by”

History of Kanji 囚The kanji 囚 has the kanji 人 “person” inside an enclosure. The kanji 人 originally comes from a standing person who was viewed from the side, in contrast to 大, which was an image of a person viewed from the front. The oracle bone style and ten style samples on the left exactly showed the shape of 人. It signified a person who was captured or confined. It meant “prisoner; captor; to be seized.”

The kun-yomi 囚われる /toraware’ru/ means “to be shackled by; to be gripped by,” and is in 囚われの身 (“being/falling in enemy’s hands” /toraware-no-mi/). The on-yomi /shu’u/ is in 囚人 (“prisoner” /shuujin/), 死刑囚 (“condemned criminal; death-row convict” /shike’eshuu/).

  1. The kanji 圏 “garden”

History of Kanji 圏History of Kanji 巻(frame)The kanji 圏 has 巻 inside. We have discussed earlier two different interpretations of the upper part of 巻 (The Kanji 略各当(當)尚番米巻券 on July 11, 2015), in the discussion os 番 and 巻 in particular. The bottom was a person with his back round, thus it meant “to roll.” With the enclosure “fence” added to 巻, it meant “a block; to encircle.” Just as with the case in the kanji 巻, in shinjitai a crouched person changed the shape to the inside of 厄, but then in kanji it went back to 己 in shinjitai.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ke’n/ is used only with other kanji, such as 大気圏 (“the atmosphere” /taiki’ken/), 安全圏 (“safety zone” /anze’nken/).

  1. The kanji 囲 (圍) “to encircle; surround”

History of Kanji 囲(圍)History of Kanji 韋(frame)The 囲 has the kyujitai 圍. The inside component 韋 is a familiar shape that we discussed earlier (One Foot at a Time (2) 韋衛圍(囲)違偉 on July 13, 2014). The history of 韋 is shown on the right. Two footprints facing opposite directions around a circle signified patrolling around the wall of a fortress or town. For 圍, by adding an outline of a town, they meant “to encircle.” In shijitai the inside was replaced by 井. The kanji 囲 means “to surround; enclosure.”

The kun-yomi 囲う /kakou/ and 囲む /kakomu/ mean “to surround; besiege,” and 囲い /kakoi/ means “enclosure; fence; wall.” The on-yomi /i/ is in 周囲 (“the circumference; those around one” /shu’ui/), 範囲 (“extent; scope; accessible limit” /ha’n-i/) and 雰囲気 (“an ambience; an atmosphere” /hun-i’ki/).

  1. The kanji 古 “old”

History of Kanji 古Before we look at the kanji 固 and 個, let us look at their inside component 古. There are different views about this simple shape — View (A) It was a crown on the ancestral god, and from that it meant “ancient; old”; View (B) The bottom was an old skull of an ancestor and the top was a crown or hair accessory. From that it meant something “old and hard”; View (C) In oracle bone style, the top was a shield and the bottom was a prayer box that was protected with the shield above. Prayers that were protected aged and became authentic precedents to follow. From that 古 originally meant “therefore.” In bronze ware style the vertical line showed a bulge to signify a shield. In ten style, the top became the shape 十. The kanji 古 means “old.” The view (C) is by Shirakawa. If we take the oracle bone style sample into the account, (C) may make more sense to me.

The kun-yomi 古い /huru’i/ means “old,” and is in 古びた (“old and worn” /huru’bita/), お古 (“hand-me-down; used article” /ohu’ru/). Just a reminder that the kanji 古い is not used for people’s old age. Another kun-yomi 古 /inishie/ is a literal word and means “ancient; olden days.” The on-yomi /ko/ is in 古代  (“ancient times” /ko’dai/), and 古典 (“classical work; classics” /koten/).

  1. The kanji 固 “hard; solid”

History of Kanji 固For the kanji 固, in ten style the kanji 古 was placed inside an enclosure. The outside line signified to protect something important and old. Old things became hard, so it meant “solid: hard.”

The kun-yomi 固い /katai/ means “hard; solid; stiff; firm,” and in 固める (“to make hard; solidify; strengthen” /katameru/) and its intransitive verb counterpart 固まる (“to harden; become solid” /katamaru/). The on-yomi /ko/ is in 頑固な (“obstinate; stubborn” /ga’nkona/) and 堅固な (“firm; strong” /ke’ngona/).

  1. The kanji 個 “individual; piece”

There is no ancient writing available for the kanji 個 because this was created at a later time. In kanji, the left side is a bushu ninben “person.” The right side 固 was used phonetically to mean something solid and individual. It is used as a counter for an object. In modern times it came to be used for “individual” as in person. There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ko/ is in 一個 (“one object or item” /ik’ko/), 個数 (“number of items” /kosu’u/), 個人 (“indivisual person” /ko’jin/).

The rectangular shape of the next two kanji, 回 and 四, is wide rather than long unlike other kunigamae kanji and their origins differ from other kanji with kunigamae. Nonetheless they are among the kunigamae kanji in the traditional kanji dictionary.

  1. The kanji 回 “to whirl; time”

History of Kanji 回For the kanji 回, in oracle bone style and bronze ware style, it was the image of whirling water or something coiling. The directions of coiling were not uniform among these earlier styles. It meant “to whirl; to coil.” Coiling also meant “times” because it always returns to the same place.

The kun-yomi 回る (/mawaru/ means “to go around”), an intransitive verb, and 回す/mawasu/ is the transitive verb (“to run in a circle; go around” /mawasu/). It is also iin 遠回り (“detour” /tooma’wari/). The on-yomi /ka’i/ is in 一回 (“once” /ikkai/), 回数 (“number of times” /kaisu’u/).

  1. The kanji 四 “four”

History of Kanji 四For the kanji 四, the writing for “four,” had originally four bars placed horizontally in oracle bone style and bronze ware style. It is in line with 一 “one”, 二 “two” and 三,”three.” Later on the shape 四 was borrowed to mean “four,” and also meant “all (four directions).”

The kun-yomi /yo’n/ or /yo/ is in 四つ (“four pieces” /yottsu/), 四日 (“four days; fourth day of month” /yokka/), and 四人 (“four people” /yonin/), 四時 (“four o’clock” /yo’ji/). On-yomi /shi/ is in 四方 (“all directions” /shiho’o/). The Japanese language kept both Japanese counting systems (kun-yomi) and Chinese kanji counting systems (on-yomi) from one through ten. Some words contain both kun-yomi and on-yomi, such as 二十四日 (“twenty four days; 24th day of month” /ni’juu yokka/), in which 二十 /ni’juu/ is the on-yomi and 四日 /yokka/ is the kun-yomi, even though 二十日 “twenty days; twentieth of month” by itself is in kun-yomi /hatsuka/.

We have seen quite a few kanji that have an enclosure shape. The meaning of the rectangular shape ( ) varied — as a boundary of a country or land, as a fence to corral animal or confine a prisoner, to surround, etc. There are other kanji, such as 団 (團), that have a kunigamae. We will look at them at a later time when we discuss other related kanji. [October 10, 2015  Japan time]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s