The Kanji 進達返退迷逃近-しんにょう(1)


Among the 1100 kanji in The Key to Kanji book, there are 26 kanji that contain a bushu shinnyoo or shinnyuu. For our exploration on the origin of shinny with a focus on ancient writings, we have oracle bone style writing samples in five kanji and bronze ware style writing samples in 18 kanji. So with these samples, we will be sure about where a bushu shinnyoo was coming from. It began with the left side of a crossroad and a footprint together, or one of the two alone. A crossroad suggesting a “road” and a footprint suggesting “walking” together signified “moving forward (along a road).” The table below shows the history of a bushu shinnyoo from the time of oracle bone style through shinjitai style.

History of Bushu しんにゅうExplanation of the table above: In the bronze ware style sample (a) in brown for the kanji 達, the left side was a crossroad, and the right bottom was a (forward-facing) footprint. In the bronze ware style sample (b) in green for the kanji 道, the crossroad was in a full shape, and the footprint at the bottom began to change to the shape that we see in (c). In the second bronze ware style sample (c) for the kanji 過, the crossroad had only left side, which in ten style (d) in red became three hooked shape lines. The bottom was 止. The shape 辵 (e) in purple was taken from the section header in the Kangxi dictionary (康熙字典). In the dictionary, however, the kanji entries themselves had a more simplified shape with two dots, such as (f) for 近 in blue. The last stroke was stretched out to the right side at the bottom. The shape (f) remained as kyujitai (kyujitai was basically the style of the Kangxi dictionary), and in Japanese it was called shinnyuu/shinnyoo. After the Japanese language reform the shape (g) in black replaced it. A bushu shinnyoo has quite a history!

A few additional notes on shinnyoo:

(1) Shinnyoo or shinnyuu?  I have been using the names shinnyoo (しんにょう) and shinnyuu (しんにゅう) interchangeably. A bushu 遶 /nyo’o; にょう/ is a component that starts on the left side and continues at the bottom to the right. Other bushu that have nyoo include an ennyoo (廴) in 延, 庭, 建, a soonyoo (走) in 起, 超, 越 and a suinyoo (夂) in 後, 夏. Most Japanese people still use the older name shinnyuu. The “elegance” of a neatly arranged name is not quite winning over the old name.

(2) Where did the name /shin/ in shinnyoo come from?   /Shin/ was from the kanji 之 /shi/. Shinnyoo meant a “之-like nyoo.” When we see the kyujitai (f) , we can see a similarity to 之 in shape.

(3) Two Different Typefaces of ShinnyooMincho style writing for a shinnyoo — The shapes in Mincho style (a) on the right table and textbook style (kyookasho-tai) in (c) are different. The second stroke of shinnyoo in kai style (b), orthodox style in brush writing, and textbook style (c) is a wavy line whereas in Mincho style (a) it is not.  When you write,  you are expected to write it with a wavy line.

All right. Now that we have taken care of the shapes and its histories, let us look at some kanji 進達返退迷逃近.

  1. The kanji 進 “to advance”

History of Kanji 進The history of the kanji 進 is shown on the left. In oracle bone style, the top was a bird, which was used phonetically, and the bottom was a footprint signifying “walking.” In bronze ware style, a crossroad was added to the left side. Adding a crossroad suggesting “one choosing to go straight past at a crossroad” meant “to advance.” The footprint was taking the shape of 止. By itself it made the kanji 止, and  meant “to stop; halt,” from stopping one’s feet. When used as a component 止 carried the meaning of “foot; moving forward.” In ten style, the crossroad and a footprint were aligned vertically forming a single meaningful unit to mean “to move forward.” The shape “bird” on the right side appeared in many other kanji that eventually becomes 隹. 隹 is called fututori, and the name comes from the kyujitai kanji 舊 for /huru’i/ (旧 in shinjitai), and /tori/ “bird,” and it was frequently used phonetically.

The kun-yomi 進む /susumu/ means “to advance; make one’s way.” The on-yomi /shi’n/ is in 進歩 (“advancement” /shi’npo/), 進化する (“to evolve; develop” /shi’nka-suru/), 後進国 (“underdeveloped country” /kooshi’nkoku/), 急進的な (“radical” /kyuushintekina/) and デモ行進 (“demonstration march” /demoko’oshin/.)

  1. The kanji 達 “to reach; attain; arrive”

History of Kanji 達 (frame)We discussed the kanji 達 in January when we looked at kanji that contain 羊 (sheep). [The Year of Sheep 羊洋逹鮮群-Radical 羊 ひつじ(1) January 11, 2015] The year of the sheep is almost over now. At that time I wrote the following: “In oracle bone style, the left side was a crossroad, and the right side had a person and a footprint. Together they meant “to go; something goes without a hitch.” In bronze ware style, the right side was a sheep to signify the scene in which a lamb was born smoothly.” This time a disconnection between a person in (a) and a sheep (b) started to bother me, so I went back to the references with more critical eyes. The “alternative writing” in Setsumon (d) with a person on the right caught my eye. With (d), (a) is explained better now. With the two components that signified “going forward” and the easy birth of a lamb or a person walking ahead, the kanji 達 meant “to reach; attain; arrive.” (For sample words please refer to the previous post.)

  1. The kanji 返 “to reverse; put it back; restore”

History of Kanji 返In the last post, in discussing the kanji 阪 we touched on the different explanations of the origin of 反. In ten style the kanji 返 consisted of the two elements that signified “to move forward” on the left and 反 on the right, which was used phonetically to mean “to reverse.” The kanji 返 meant “to reverse; put it back; restore.”

The kun-yomi 返す /ka’esu/ means “to return,” and is in 繰り返す (“to repeat” /kurika’esu/). ひっくり返す (“to turn over; turn upside down” /hikkurika’esu/) has the intransitive counterpart verb ひっくり返る /hikkurika’eru/). The on-yomi /he’n/ is in 返事 (“response” /henji’/), 返金 (“repay; reimbursement” /henkin/), 取り返しがつかない (“there is no mending; can’t be undone” /torikaeshi-ga-tsuka’nai/), 見返りがある (“there is a reward/collateral” /mikaeri-ga-a’ru/).

  1. The kanji 退 “to move backward; retreat”

History of Kanji 退Even though the upper right component of the kanji 退, 艮, is the same as the right component of the kanji 限 discussed in our last post, their origins were different – In 限 艮 consisted of an eye and a person or a knife whereas in 退 艮 consisted of a raised bowl of food or the sun, and a backward-facing footprint (夂 suinyoo) below that. The bronze ware style sample showed a bowl of food and a backward footprint. A person walking backward not showing his back in taking down the food offering from the altar table was the explanation given by Shirakawa. The other explanation given by the Kadokawa dictionary is that, from “the sun going down,” it meant “to retreat; recede; move backward.” Now where did the shinnyoo in kanji come from? Interestingly the combination of the crossroad and the backward footprint together gave the meaning the shinnyoo “to move backward” rather than “to move forward.”  (The oracle bone style sample here is the origin of the alternate ten style given by Setsumon (not shown here).)

The kun-yomi 退く /shirizo’ku/ means “to retreat; move backward.” Another kun-yomi /no/ is in 立ち退く (“to get out; vacate” /tachinoku/). The on-yomi /ta’i/ is in 後退 (“retreat” /kootai/), 退職 (“resignation or retirement from a job” /taishoku/), and 退屈な (“boring” /taikutsuna/.)

  1. The kanji 迷 “to be perplexed; lose one’s way”

History of Kanji 迷For the kanji 迷, the bronze ware style sample had a crossroad (left side of 行), 木 and a footprint 止. In ten style the footprint moved to the left, and the right side became 米, which was used phonetically. This kanji is also popularly explained as “one loses one’s way like rice grains scattered in all directions.” The kanji 迷 means “to be perplexed; lose one’s way.”

The kun-yomi 迷う /mayo’u/ means “to be perplexed; lose one’s way,” and is in 迷い子 or 迷子 (“lost child” /mayoi’go/ or /ma’igo/). The on-yomi /me’e/ is in 迷惑な (“annoying; troublesome” /me’ewakuna/), 混迷する (“to be stupefied; be confused” /konmeesuru/) and 迷信 (“superstition” /meeshin/).

  1. The kanji 逃 “to run away; sidestep”

History of Kanji 逃For the kanji 逃, in ten style the right side 兆 came from a pictograph that was the crack lines on a heated tortoise shell or animal bone for divination. When crack lines appeared on the heated bone, they appeared very quickly. The left side “to move forward” and cracks running fast together meant “to run away; dodge.”

The kun-yomi 逃げる /nige’ru/ means “to run away,” and is in 逃げ回る (“to run about” /nigemawa’ru/). Another kun-yomi 逃れる /nogare’ru/ means “to dodge; sidestep,” and is in 言い逃れ (“excuse” /iinogare/). The on-yomi /to’o/ is in 逃亡者 (“fugitive; runaway” /toobo’osha/).

  1. The kanji 近 “close; near”

History of Kanji 近In the ten style of the kanji 近, the right side was a hand axe with a shaped handle, but here it was used phonetically for /ki’n/ to mean “a little.” With the left side “moving forward” a short distance to go forward meant “near.” The kanji 近 meant “near; close.”

The kun-yomi /chika’i/ means “near,” and /jika/ is in 間近に (まぢかに) (“nearby; at close quarters” /ma’jikani/) and 身近な(みぢかな) (“close to oneself; familiar” /mijikana/). The on-yomi /ki’n/ is in 近所 (“nearby place; neighborhood” /ki’njo/) and 最近 (“recently; lately” /saikin/).

We will continue with more kanji that contain a shinnyoo in the next post. [December 5, 2015]

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