1 The kanji 送 “to send; forward”
For the kanji 送, in ten style, in red, the left side was a crossroad and a footstep vertically placed, which were the makings of a bushu shinnyoo “to move forward” later on. On the right side the top looked like a fire but it was an object instead (we will come back to this shape in the kanji 朕 below). The bottom was two hands, which signified a careful act using hands. Together they signified a person sending out an object with hands. Then the left side was added to emphasize a forward movement. The two sides together meant “to send something forward.”
The kun-yomi 送る /okuru/ means “to send,” and is in 送り先 (“recipient; addressee” /okurisaki/), 見送る (“to see someone off” /miokuru/), 見送りにする (“not to act now; shelve for now” /miokurini-suru/), 送り仮名 (“declensional kana ending in Japanese” /okurigana/). The on-yomi /so’o/ is in 送料 (“shipping charge” /so’oryoo/), 転送 (“transfer” /tensoo/), 郵送 (“sending by post” /yuusoo/) and 再放送 (“rebroadcasting” /saiho’osoo/).
The kanji 朕 — This kanji is for an extremely exclusive use. Only an emperor uses this to talk about himself. It means “imperial We.” But it is not an unimportant kanji if you study Japanese history. Until the end of WWII, at every important school assembly the principal solemnly recited the Imperial Rescript on Education. It began as 朕惟フ二・朕思うに (/chi’n omo’oni/ “We. the emperor, believe that …”). So, the word 朕 was a familiar word among people of an older generation for a long time.
The history of the kanji 朕 is shown on the right. In both oracle bone style, in brown, and bronze ware style, in green, the left side had a shallow bowl or a tray that could be used to transport things. (月 in this case is not “moon” or “flesh” but “tray; bowl.”) On the right side the vertical line with a bulge in the middle signified an object (a bulge was to emphasize that the shape was more than just a line), and the bottom had two hands holding up the object carefully. Together they meant a bowl that contained something was held carefully with both hands reverentially. Then it was used to mean “imperial We.” (Shirakawa thinks that it was just a borrowing because pronouns are all borrowing.) In ten style, the vertical line with a bulge took the shape of 火. In kanji the two elements on the right side coalesced and became simplified. The kanji 朕 means “I (imperial We)” [exclusively used by an emperor]. Another kanji that contains the upper right side of the kanji 送 and 朕 is the kanji 咲 (“a flower blooms” /saku/), but it appears to be a more recent kanji (no ancient writing available).
2 The kanji 追 “to chase after; add later” and 師 “teacher; military unit”
The upper right component in the kanji 追 and the left side of the kanji 師 share the same shape, not only in the kanji but also in oracle bone style and bronze ware style. Kanji scholars’ accounts on what it signified seem to differ. One view is that it was a stack of things or soil for a boundary. Another view is that it was bands of people and was phonetically used to mean “to follow” and “to add (something) afterwards.” And yet another view, which is by Shirakawa, is that it was two pieces of meat for offerings to the god to pray for a victory in a battle. The ritual with an offering was conducted wherever the military moved to fight a battle. Thus it meant “to follow.” From following it also meant “to add (something) afterwards.”
The kun-yomi 追う /ou/ means “to chase after” and is in 追いかける /oikake’ru/ and its colloquial form 追っかける (“to run after” /oikake’ru; okkake’ru/.) The on-yomi /tsu’i/ is in 追加 (“addition” /tsuika/), 追放する (“to expel; banish” /tsuihoo-suru/), 追突事故 (“car accident” /tsuitotsuji’ko/) and 追従する (“to servile to; follow” /tsuijuu-suru/).
The kanji 師 –The two oracle bone style samples and the left bronze ware style writing sample shown on the right were the same as the components of 追. In the second bronze ware style writing a military flag was added on the right side. Together they meant a military division or its leader. In the military a leader is very important, From that it also meant a “mentor.” The kanji 師 meant “military unit; teacher; mentor.”
3 The kanji 遺 “to leave behind; bequest”
For the kanji 遺, we have three bronze ware style writing samples here. The left most one consisted of two hands holding something carefully at the top, a crossroad on the left, signifying “to go,” and a cowry, signifying something valuable, at the bottom right. Together they meant someone leaving something precious behind after his death. The two other bronze ware style samples contained the same elements in a different layout. In ten style a crossroad and a footprint were aligned vertically to mean “to go forward,” and the right side was 貴 “precious; valuable.” The kanji 遺 means “to leave behind; bequest.”
The kun-yomi 遺す /noko’su/ means “to leave behind; bequest.” The on-yomi /i/ is in 遺族 (bereaved family; surviving family of a deceased), 遺産 (“inheritance” /isan/), 遺伝 (“hereditary transmission” /iden/), 遺伝子 (“gene” /ide’nshi/) and 遺憾ながら (“regrettably; I regret to say” /ikanna’gara/) [formal style]. Another on-yomi /yu’i/ is in 遺言 (one’s dying wish; one’s will /yuigon/).
The kanji 貴–If you take the bushu shinnyoo out from the kanji 遺, we get the kanji 貴. Its ten style writing shown on the right had two hands over a container of valuable cowry with a lid. It signified “to handle something valuable carefully.” Precious cowries were kept in a container with a lid. Together they meant “precious; valuable.” The kanji 貴 is also used for people and it meant “noble.”
４ The kanji 辺 (邊) “peripheral; edge”
The shinjitai kanji 辺 was a drastic change from its kyujitai邊. The kyujitai had 19 strokes and we can hardly make out the shape unless you enlarge the screen many times over. The writing in blue on the left side is the kyujitai. We have two bronze ware style writing samples here. The left one had a crossroad on the left. On the right side it had a face (自) at the top, a table (丙) in the middle and four directions (方) at the bottom, signifying peripheral areas in all four directions. Together they meant “edge of an area; peripheral.” In ten style a crossroad and a footprint were aligned vertically. The kyujitai had two short strokes in the shinnyoo. The kyujitai is still used in some family names, such as 渡邊 “Watanabe or Watabe” in a formal document even though they are likely to use the shinjitai in their daily life. For us, simply learning the shinjitai shape, which has 刀 “sword,” no relation to the meaning, will do. The kanji 辺 meant “peripheral; edge of an area; area.”
The on-yomi 辺り /a’tari/ means “surrounding; vicinity; neighborhood.” The on-yomi /he’n/ is in この辺 /konohen/ “the neighborhood; this area,” 四辺形 (“quadrilateral; four-sided figure” /shihe’nkee/), 周辺 (“surroundings; vicinity” /shuuhen/), 辺境 (“frontier; outlying district” /henkyoo/), and /pen/ is in 天辺 (“top” /teppe’n/ often in hiragana てっぺん). Another on-yomi /be/ is in 浜辺 (“shore; beach” /hamabe/).
５The kanji 遅 “late; slow”
The kanji 遅 had oracle bone style and bronze ware style samples as shown on the left. How a sitting person and possibly an animal came to mean 犀 “rhinoceros” is not clear. In kanji, the upper right component 犀 was used phonetically to mean “slow.” The lower left was a bushu shinnyoo. In ten style the upper right consisted of 尾 “tail” and 牛 “ox; cow,” which was reflected in kyujitai. In shinjitai they were replaced by 羊. The kanji 遅 means “slow; late.”
The kun-yomi 遅い (“late; slow” /osoi/) and 遅れる (“to be late; arrive late” /okureru/), 出遅れる (“to make a late start” /deokure’ru/), 乗り遅れる (“to miss a bus or train” /noriokure’ru/), 遅かれ早かれ (“sooner or later” /osokarehaya’kare/), 手遅れ (“too late” /teo’kure/). The on-yomi /chi/ is in 遅刻 (“late; arrive late” /chikoku/), 遅々として (“very slowly” /chi’chitoshite/).
６ The kanji 遊 “to play; have fun; travel around”
The kanji 遊, with a bushu shinnyoo, does not appear in Setsumon Kaiji, Instead it was with a sanzui “water” (游). The history of the kanji 游 is shown on the right. In oracle bone style, the left and the top was a flagpole and a streamer of a clan. The bottom right was a child. The left bronze ware style writing showed a person viewed from the side. He was holding the flagpole with both hands firmly. The writing meant “clan” with a clan streamer swimming in the sky. In ten style, “water” was added on the left side to indicate “to swim.” When a bushu shinnyoo “to move forward” was added instead, the kanji 遊 originally meant “to travel around; move around.” From that it meant “to play; to have fun.” It also retained the original meaning of “moving about; traveling around” in the words such as 遊学 (“to travel abroad for leaning” /yuugaku/) and 外遊 (“to travel abroad” (often by a politician) /gaiyuu/).
The kun-yomi 遊ぶ /asonu/ means “to play; have fun.” The on-yomi /yuu/ include words such as 物見遊山 (“going on a pleasure jaunt” /monomiyu’san/) in addition to 遊学 and 外遊.
The clan’s pole and streamer in the kanji 旅旗族: In kanji it is written as 方 on the left side and two strokes at the top of the right component. But as we have just seen in the ancient writings above, they originally signified a single meaning. In the history of kanji I find that it is very rare that a meaningful unit got cut off in the middle like this. I believe this is a very rare case in which a meaningful segment was dropped off entirely. In a traditional kanji dictionary, even from the Setsumon times, it has been listed among 方 as a bushu. The kanji that share the same origin include 旅 (“to travel” /tabi’/), 旗 (“flag” /hata’/), and 族 (“family; clan” /zo’ku/.)
It looks like I need one more posting to finish up with kanji containing a bushu shinnyoo. [January 15, 2016]