The Kanji 邑都者郡君群部郵郷–おおざと


Bushuおおざと&こざとへんBushu Oozato and Kozatohen: The two three-stroke bushu oozato and kozatohen look very much alike or even identical in kanji. The only difference is the position – An oozato appears on the right side whereas a kozatohen appears on the left side (thus, /-hen/). The two bushu, however, came from very different origins, as shown in the samples of the oldest style, oracle bone style (甲骨文), in brown on the left.

A bushu oozato means “village,” and kozatohen means “stack of dirt; a hill; stairs; ladder.” When you look at a traditional kanji dictionary, you find kanji with oozato in a seven-stroke bushu group, with 邑 attached. On the other hand kanji with kozatohen are found among eight-stroke bushu kanji, with 阜 attached. It is in only more recently published kanji dictionaries that both oozato and kozatohen are found among three-stroke bushu. In this post we are going to look at some kanji that have a bushu oozato (邑), and in the next two posts we are going to look at those with a bushu kozatohen (阜偏).

  1. The kanji 邑 “village” and the bushu oozato

History of Kanji 邑 (and Bushu Oozato)The kanji 邑 (/yu’u/ in on-yomi; /mura’/ in kun-yomi) and a bushu oozato share the same origin. The history of the kanji 邑 was well-documented, as shown on the left. In oracle bone style (a), in brown, the square at the top signified an area or a wall surrounding a town, and the bottom was a person who was kneeling, just a person. Together an area where people were meant “village.” In the three bronze ware style samples (b), (c) and (d), in green, we can see how a simplification took place. (d) showed a close connection to the current shape of an oozato. Then in ten style (e), in red, it went back to the shape in which the two original components, an area and a kneeling person, became more recognizable. The bottom shape in (e) in ten style became 巴 in kanji (f). We have seen that a kneeling person undergoing the same development ended up in the shape 卩, a bush hushizukuri, in the earlier post [The Kanji 令命印即節迎仰昂抑- Posture (6) ふしづくり on April 18, 2015]. The kanji 邑 (f) is not a Joyo kanji. When used as a bushu the simplification took place even in bronze ware style time, as we see in (d), and it ended up the current three-stroke shape. The ground work done, now we are ready to look at some kanji that have a bushu oozato.

  1. The kanji 都 “capital; all”

History of Kanji 都For the kanji 都, we have two samples in bronze ware style here, (a) and (b). The explanation of the left side of these two shapes may be a little peculiar until you see the same shape 者 repeatedly in other kanji. The top was many twigs or wooden writing tablets gathered, and the bottom was a stove to burn them. I imagine that the scattered dots in (b) must be sparks of a fire. Gathering many twigs and things signified “many,” and was used phonetically. The right side was an area and a person, which signified a “village.” The right side of (b) had the same shape as (d) in the kanji 邑 in 1. From “an area where many people live,” it meant “capital” and also “all.”

The kun-yomi 都 /miyako/ means “capital.” The on-yomi /to/ is in 都会 (“city; big town” /tokai/), 都心 (“urban core; heart of city” /toshin/). 都 /to/ is also the  metropolitan jurisdiction, as in 東京都 (“Tokyo metropolis” /tookyo’oto/). There is another on-yomi /tsu/, which is a go-on, and is in 都合がいい (“convenient” /tsugoo-ga i’i/), 都合が悪い (“to have a schedule conflict” /tsugoo-ga waru’i/), and その都度 (“every time; whenever” /sonotsu’do/.)

History of Kanji 者 (frame)The Kanji 者– The left side of the kanji 都 also appears in a number of kanji, including 者・緒・諸・署・暑・著. The history of 者 is shown on the right. In bronze ware style, the top was sticks or things such as writing tablets gathered, and the bottom was a stove to burn them. The meaning as “person” for 者 was borrowed. In fact in most kanji, this shape was merely used phonetically and had little correspondence to the original meaning. I do wonder if the extra dot in the kyujitai 者, in blue, was a remnant of a spark. All of the kyujitai for 者 as a component had a dot in the middle.

  1. The kanji 郡 “county”

For the kanji 郡, we only have a ten style sample. The left side is the kanji 君. Because the kanji 君 has fuller samples, let us look at 君 first.

History of Kanji 君 (frame)The kanji 君 “lord; you”— In oracle bone style, (a), the top was a hand holding a stick to command, and the bottom was a mouth, signifying “speaking.” Together they originally signified a “tribal chief.” In bronze ware style, in (b) a hand and a stick appeared to coalesce and are hard to make out, but in (c) a hand and a stick were recognizable. In ten style (d), the commanding stick became longer. Someone whose words command people to follow means “lord; sovereign.” It is also used as suffix in addressing someone who is equal or junior to you by a male speaker.

History of Kanji 郡Now back to the kanji 郡. In ten style, the left side 君 was a “chief” or “lord.” The right side had an area with a person or people, which signified a village. Together they signified “an area where a local lord 君 governs.” From that it means a smaller jurisdiction or “county.” In Japan, 郡 /gu’n/ is a consolidation of 町 (“town” /machi’/) and 村 (“village” /mura’/) under the supervision of 県 (“prefecture” /ke’n) and does not have a legal power. There are one 都 /to/ (which is the Tokyo motropolis), forty three 県 /ke’n/, two 府 /hu/ (Osaka and Kyoto 大阪府 京都府) and one 道 /do’o/ (Hokkaido 北海道). In school, children are taught to recite 1都1道2府43県 /i’tto ichi’doo ni’hu yo’njuu sa’nken/ in the order of the size of the jurisdiction 都道府県 /todoohu’ken/.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 郡 /gu’n/ means “county,” and is also in 郡部 (“rural district” /gu’nbu.)

History of Kanji 群 (frame)The kanji 群 — Since we have just seen the kanji 郡 with 君, we add another kanji that contains 君– 群. The top of two bronze ware style samples on the right were the same as (b) for 君, and was used phonetically. It originally was a hand holding a stick and a mouth underneath. The bottom was “sheep.” Sheep stay in a flock, and it signified “to flock.” The kanji 群 meant “group; throng; herd; flock.”

  1. The kanji 部 “part; section”

History of Kanji 部For the kanji 部, the left side was used phonetically to mean “to divide.” The right side had an area and a person, that is, a village. Together they signified “to divide a village into parts.” From that it meant “part; portion” of a whole or “department; section” of a larger organization.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /he/ is in 部屋 (“room” /heya’/) and it was a go-on. Another on-yomi /bu/, in kan-on,  is in 全部 (“all” /ze’nbu/), 部分 (“part; portion” /bu’bun/), 本部 (“headquarters” /ho’nbu/), 学部 (“academic department” /gakubu/). We cannot forget the important word for us, 部首 /bu’shu/. In the first most comprehensive compilation of kanji, Setsumon Kaiji (説文解字), completed in 100 A. D., all kanji were grouped into sections that shared the same component. The section was 部 “section” and its heading was 首 “head”- thus the word 部首 /bu’shu/ in Japanese, bushou in Chinese. It means “section header” of a kanji dictionary. Because a shared  component is something that does not change like a root in some European languages it has been traditionally translated as “radical,” which means “root.” Personally I prefer to stick to the word bushu because it is what it means, “a section header in a kanji dictionary.”

  1. The kanji 郵 “postal service”

History of Kanji 郵For the kanji 郵, the left side 垂 had the meaning “frontier; peripheral area.” The right side was an area and a person, signifying “village.” Together they signified “postings along the road to the frontier that a messenger passed.” It meant “post; postal service.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /yu’u/ is in 郵便 (“postal service” /yu’ubin/), 郵送する (“to send by mail” /yuusoosuru/), 郵便局 (“post office” /yuubi’nkyoku/), 郵便番号 (“postal code” /yuubinba’ngoo/), which works like a zip code in the U. S., and 郵便受け (“mail box” /yuubi’n-uke/).

  1. The kanji 郷 “hometown”

History of Kanji 郷For the kanji 郷, in oracle bone style (a) it had two people sitting, facing each other with food in a bowl in the middle. It signified a “feast.” In bronze ware style (b) and (c) the components were the same. In ten style, however, above each of the two people, an area was added making it to 邑 “village” in mirror images. In the center was the shape we see in the kanji 食 “food in a bowl” (食 has a cover over the food).  So, in ten style “feast” seemed to have expanded to the whole village! Having a feast for people was an important event for a village. It meant “hometown.” I like the story behind those ancient writings from (a) through (d) much better than just a sort of confusing shape of the kanji 郷.

The on-yomi /kyo’o/ is in 故郷 (“one’s hometown” /ko’kyoo/), 郷土 (“homeland” /kyo’do/), 郷里 (“hometown” /kyo’ori/). Another on-yomi /go’o/ is in 郷士 (“squire” /go’oshi/) and 水郷 (“riverside district” /suigoo/). The word ふるさと (“hometown” /huru’sato/) is sometimes written as 故郷.

StrokeOrderおおざとThe stroke order of oozato and kozatohen is unusual, or “counter intuitive” as my former students used to complain in their kanji quizzes. The vertical line is the last stroke, as shown on the left.  In the next two posts, we are going to look at kanji with a kozatohen. [November 8, 2015]

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