The Kanji 阪反坂陳東陛比階皆完院—こざとへん(2)


Two three-trianglesWe are looking at kanji with a kozatohen, keeping in mind that each may have originated from three different meanings and, possibly, shapes. Ochiai (2014) gave two different original shapes of a kozatohen in which the three triangles were placed differently – one with a horizontal line at the top (for a “ladder”), and the other with a peak of each of three triangles being in the center if you look at them sideways (for “mountains; hills”). He said that these two shapes converged into one. We have also seen the third meaning, “a stack of soil raised high.” Over the last couple of weeks as I looked at these three different shapes and meanings, they started to mingle together and the lines among them became blurred in my mind. A ladder suggests something “high.” A ladder could be flights of dirt stairs. An undulating line of mountains or hills suggests ground that is high and low. Hills are mounds of soil, etc. Keeping all these – a ladder, stairs, mountains/hills, high ground- in mind – we move on to look at more kanji.

  1. The kanji 阪 and 反

History of Kanji 阪For the kanji 阪, the left side of the bronze ware style, in green, would be a good candidate for the interpretation “hills placed vertically.” It gave the meaning that is something to do with soil. The right side 反 is a familiar shape in many kanji, such as 反阪坂返板叛版, all of which have the sound /ha’n/ or /he’n/, and form semantic-phonetic composite kanji.  Let us look at the kanji 反 first.

History of Kanji 反 (frame)The Kanji 反: In the Key to Kanji I explained that it was “a hand pushing back a piece of cloth, indicating ‘to push back, to roll back or to reverse.’” The Kadokawa dictionary, Kanjigen and Shin-Kangorin (2011) all take this view. The history of the kanji 反 is shown on the right. Now looking at the earlier shapes in oracle bone style, in brown, and bronze ware style, I wonder if the upper left shape really looks like a hanging cloth. Usually the upper left (), a bushu gandare in kanji, is viewed as a “cliff.” If we take it as a “cliff,” what does “a hand under or against a cliff” mean?  Shirakawa’s explanation is that putting hands against a sacred area to climb in was sacrilege or disrespect, thus it meant “against.” I need to see more examples for this view to make sense. So, in the mean time, I just leave my explanation in the book as it is.

Now back to the kanji 阪. The left side looks like undulating hill lines. The right side was used phonetically for /han/ and signified “against; to turn back.”  A landscape that would push a person against going forward was a “slope.” The kanji 阪 means “slope.”

The kun-yomi /saka’/ is in 大阪 (“Osaka city; the minor prefecture (府) of Osaka” /oosaka/) and 大阪弁 (“Osaka dialect” /oosakaben/).  The on-yomi /ha’n/ is in 阪神地方 (“Osaka and Kobe area” /ha’nshin-chi’hoo/).

History of Kanji 坂The kanji 坂 “slope”: In Japanese for the kanji that means “slope” we use the kanji 坂, with a bushu tsuchihen (土) “soil.” The kanji 坂 is newer kanji and was not included in Setsumon Kaiji. But, interestingly, Akai (2010) gave the bronze ware style sample shown on the right. (I do not know from which source this shape was taken.) It had a cliff with a slight bulge in the middle for an emphasis, soil (土) at the bottom, and a hand (又) on the right side. The image may be a person trying to climb a cliff putting his hands against it.

  1. The kanji 陳 “to display; state; old”

History of Kanji 陳For the kanji 陳, the two bronze ware style samples on the left had a kozatohen. and what would become the kanji 東, which originally meant “a bag of stuff or dirt tied at both ends.” (We are coming back to this in a second.) In the first bronze ware style sample, the shape on the far right was a bushu bokuzukuri (攵) “to do; cause an action”( from a hand moving a stick.) In the second sample, the bottom was “soil” (土). Together they meant displaying bags of stuff or soil tied on the both ends. From this meaning we interpret the kozatohen in this kanji to mean a stack of dirt (– unless we take the view that bags of soil were placed in front of the divine ladder).

There is no kun-yomi in the Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /chi’n/ is in 陳列棚 (“display shelf” /chinretsu’dana/), 陳述 (“statement; declaration” /chinjutu/), 陳情する (“to make representation against or for; lodge a petition” /chinjoo-suru/), 陳腐な (“stale; ready-made phrase”/chi’npuna).

History of Kanji 東(frame)The kanji 東: Taking the explanation given in Setsumon 2000 years ago, the kanji 東 has often been explained as the sun coming through a tree, thus “east.” But now with abundant samples in oracle bone and bronze ware style scholars generally agree that it was a bag of stuff that was tied on two ends. The three lines at the top and the bottom were the ends of a tied rope. The meaning “east” for 東 was a borrowing. When used as a component the original meaning was retained, as is always the case in bushu. The meaning of “a bag of heavy stuff that was tied on both ends” was in the origin of many other kanji such as 重 “heavy,” 動 “to move” and 童 “child,” just to name a few. I hope to have a chance to look at ancient writing samples for those kanji in the near future.

  1. The kanji 陛 “His majesty”

History of Kanji 陛The next two kanji 陛 and 階 have been discussed in the earlier post [The Kanji 人仁従縦比皆階陛 – Posture (3) on March 28, 2015] in connection with “person,” In this post we look at 陛 and 階 as the examples of a kozatohen to mean “steps; stairs.” In 陛, the right side had 比 “people standing in a row” and 土 “ground.” The subjects were standing in neatly formed rows in front of the stairs that lead to where the emperor was. The kanji 陛 is used only to refer to the royal head of a state. For sample words, please refer to the earlier post.

History of Kanji 比(frame)The kanji 比 – The upper right component of the kanji 陛 was well documented from oracle bone time, as shown on the right. They were all two people standing, one behind the other. Two means “many.” When two people faced backward it became the kanji 比 “to compare,” whereas when they faced left it became 従 “to follow.”

  1. The kanji 階

History of Kanji 階The kozatohen in the kanji 階 really signified exactly the same meaning as the kanji 陛. The origin of the shape, whether “soil stacked up high” or a “ladder,” gave the meaning of having different levels within. Flights of a staircase or steps to walk up were a good match for a kozatohen. The kanji 階 had 皆 “many; everybody,” which was used phonetically for /ka’i/. A kozatohen gave the meaning “stairs; gradation; story” to the kanji 階. We are seeing a clear-cut illustration of the important fact about a bushu and tsukuri (the right side of kanji) in kanji here – A bushu gives meaning and a tsukuri gives sound.

History of Kanji 皆(frame)The kanji 皆. In the earlier post I mentioned that the bottom of the kanji 皆 was from 自 “self,” and also that there is a view that it was 曰 “to talk.” I do not have anything new that makes me choose one over the other now, but now I am inclined to think that both must be correct. The ten style sample may be 自 (白) from a nose on the face, but the bronze ware style was 曰 (“to talk” /e’tsu/ in on-yomi and /i’waku/ in kun-yomi.) During the last two years of our exploration of the etymology of kanji on this blog site, we have seen that components of ancient writing got lost, added, or replaced over the years. In the kanji 皆, both interpretations of the bottom may be right. Even though 曰 is not among the Joyo kanji, it is used in expressions such as 彼曰く (“according to what he said” /ka’re i’waku/”) and 曰く付きの悪者 (“a villain with the past” /iwakutsuki-no-warumono/). For the kanji 皆, from many people talking, it meant “everyone; all.”

  1. The kanji 院 “institution”

History of Kanji 院The right side of the kanji 院 is the kanji 完. History of Kanji 完(frame)In the absence of writing that was earlier than ten style for 院 shown on the left, I hoped to find earlier shape in the kanji 完. But my search came up empty-handed — the kanji 完 only had a ten style sample too. But there was a difference that, in the ten style sample of 完, the walls of the house, a bushu ukanmuri, reached the floor. So, 元 “a person with a big head kneeling down with his hand in front” was entirely wrapped in the safety of the inside the house. The kanji 完 meant “entire; complete.”

Now we go back to the ten style of the kanji 院. 完 was used phonetically (it is not easy for us to see that /kan/ and /in/ shared the same phonetic origin, but that seems to be the finding by kanji scholars). What would a kozatohen add to the kanji 完, then? It is the soil that was stacked high to surround a person in the house. A dirt-walled house with people inside means a “large public house; institution.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /i’n/ is in 病院 (“hospital” /byooin/), 入院する (“to become hospitalized” /nyuuin-suru/), 医院 (“physician’s private practice office” /i’in/), 上院 (“the Upper House; the Senate” /jooin/) and 下院 (“the Lower House; the House of Representatives” /kain/) and 大学院 (“graduate school” /daigaku’in/).

I was not able to squeeze in a few more kanji with a kozatohen here. So there will be one more post on a kozatohen. For our readers who keep the American tradition – A Happy Thanksgiving Day to you and your family!  -Noriko [November 22, 2015 ]

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