The kanji 道 “road” and 導 “to guide”
The kanji 道 and 導 have been discussed in an earlier post in connection with a physical feature (The Kanji 民眠盲衆自面首道導 on June 6, 2015) – The upper right component 首 was a head with hair. The two kanji shared the same bronze ware style writing, in green, which consisted of a crossroad, inside which was a head with hair, and underneath was a hand. Together they signified someone showing by hand the way to go, thus 導 meant “a hand guiding the way to go forward” or just “to guide.” (Ten style is in red.) Without a hand at the bottom it became the kanji 道 “road; way.” As I write this post I am wondering if the two Japanese words みち /michi/ and みちびく /michibi’ku/ existed before the kanji came to Japan and shared the same cognates, too. The word /hiku/ means “to draw; to pull; lead.” Another scenario is that the word みちびく came after the kanji introduction. To look into which was a historical fact is a totally different endeavor. For us in vocabulary study keeping in mind this possible relationship between みち and みちびく may be useful.
The kanji 述 “to state”
When we looked at the kanji 術 three months ago in the post entitled the kanji 行街術衛 – ゆきがまえ (October 17, 2015), 術 was explained in two ways, depending on how the middle 朮 was explained. One explanation of 朮 from Setsumon was that “sticky millets around the stalk.” Another, by Shirakawa, was an “animal that was used to exorcise an evil spirit on a road.” Unlike 術, 述 had a bronze ware style sample, but it still does not give us a definitive answer – it looks like the top of the millet stalk drooping with grain, but it also looks like an animal. (One problem with Shirakawa’s account is that many kanji scholars seem to be skeptical of the existence of such magic practice.) Whatever the origin was, the kanji 朮 (it is not a Joyo kanji) meant もちあわ “sticky millet,” and in both kanji 術 and 述, it was used phonetically for /jutsu/. For us it is more convenient to understand 述 as one following what had been said, thus “to reiterate; state.”
The kun-yomi 述べる /nobe’ru/ means “to state; say.” The on-yomi /ju’tsu/ is in 述語 (“predicate” /jutsugo/), 記述する (“to describe; write down” /kijutsu-suru/), and 前述の (“aforementioned” /zenjutsu-no/).
The kanji 帝 “imperial,” 適 “suitable” and 敵 “enemy; foe” — In order to discuss the kanji 適 and its related kanji 敵, it would be helpful to look at the kanji 帝. I would have never imagined that those kanji would lead us to the kanji 帝, until I wrote about the two kanji 適 and 敵 for the Key to Kanji.
The kanji 帝 “emperor; imperial”
For the kanji 帝 in both of the two samples in oracle bone style, in brown, it was an altar table that had three crossed legs for stability. It was the most important altar table to place offerings for the ancestral gods and gods of nature. It signified the highest god that ruled the universe. From that it came to be used for “emperor; imperial.” In bronze ware style, the top, for most likely offerings, got separated. In kanji the bottom 巾 is probably the remnant of stabilizing three legs.
The kun-yomi 帝 /mikado/ means “emperor.” The on-yomi /te’i/ is in 皇帝 (“emperor” /kootee/), 帝国 (“empire” /te’ikoku/) and 帝国主義 (“imperialism” /teikokushu’gi/).
The kanji 適 “suitable” and 敵 “enemy; foe”
The history of the kanji 適 and 敵 is shown on the left. The two kanji in bronze ware style were basically the same: The top was what the kanji 帝 was and the bottom was 口 “words; a prayer box.” Together they signified someone who could say a prayer in conducting the most important worship rite of the ancestral gods, that is, a legitimate heir to the throne. When a bushu onnaben was added on the left side, it became the kanji 嫡 /cha’ku/, in words such as 嫡子 (“legitimate son or daughter; heir”/cha’kushi/). Now let us look at the kanji 適 and 敵.
The kanji 適 -In ten style the kanji 適 had the makings of a shinnyoo “to move forward” on the left side. Together from something that can move on it meant “to fit; suitable.” The kun-yomi 適う /kana’u/ means “suitable; qualified.” The on-yomi /teki/ is in 適当な (“suitable; fit” /tekitoo-na/), which is also used in the opposite meaning of “irresponsible.” It is also in 適応する (to adapt” /tekioo-suru/), 快適な (“confortable” /kaiteki-na/), 適材適所 (“the right person in the right position” /tekizaite’kisho/).
The kanji 敵 – In ten style the right side was a bushu bokuzukuri 攵 “to take an action; beat.” Together they meant someone who was a good match to be one’s enemy, or someone who was against the heir to the throne whom one should fight against, thus “enemy; foe.” The kanji 敵 means “enemy; foe” and also “to match; equal; rival.” It also retained the original meaning of “to fit.” The kun-yomi is 敵 /kataki’/ “enemy; foe.” The on-yomi /teki/ also means “enemy; foe,” but the kun-yomi /kataki’/ is a more emotional, stronger word. It is also in 敵味方 (“friend and foe” /tekimikata/), 天敵 (“natural enemy” /tenteki/), 敵意 (“hostility” /te’kii/), 無敵の (“matchless” /mutaki-no/).
(There are a couple of more Joyo kanji that include the same component – 滴 “drop,” and 摘 “to pick.” The component was used solely phonetically.)
The kanji 通 “to pass through”
For the kanji 通, we have two oracle bone style samples shown on the left. In addition to a crossroad on the left side, and a footprint on the right, it had the shape that later became 用. In bronze ware style, a round shape was added on 用, which became 甬 in kanji. Even though scholars seem to agree that 甬 signified an action in which something went through, thus it meant “through; to pass through,” what the shape originally was came from is not agreed. One view is that the top was a person stamping on a stick to push it through; another is that the top was a hand pail 手桶 whose cylindrical shape signified something “through”; yet another is that it was just used phonetically. Whatever the origin, the katakana マ shape and 用 formed a single meaningful unit. Together with a bushu shinnyoo, the kanji 通 meant “to pass through; go and come back regularly.”
The kun-yomi 通る /to’oru/ means “to pass through.” Another kun-yomi 通う /kayou/) means “to commute; go repeatedly.” The on-yomi /tsu’u/ is in 通学する (“to commute to school” /tsuugaku-suru/), 通路 (“passageway” /tsu’uro/), 通勤時間 (“commuting time” /tsuukinji’kan/), 交通 (“transportation; traffic” /kootsuu/), and 通話記録 (“call log” /tsuuwaki’roku/).
The kanji 造 “to make; assemble”
The kanji 造 means “to make; do; assemble.” There seem to be a number of different views on the origin, including that it was just a borrowing. One thing agreed upon is that the upper right was a miscopy and was not related to the kanji 告. The bronze ware style and ten style samples are shown on the left. I hate to leave it this way, but I do not see an account that would be helpful for us to learn.
The kun-yomi /tsuku’ru/ means “to make.” The on-yomi /zo’o/ is in 創造 (“creation” /soozoo/), 造作なく (“easily” /zoosana’ku/), 造詣の深い (“to have profound knowledge” /zookee-no-huka’i/).
For other kanji that contain a bushu shinnyoo, such as 遠, 違, 選 and 達, please read the earlier posts. This post concludes our exploration of shinnyoo kanji. We have seen in each one of the kanji that (1) a bushu shinnyoo originated from two discrete shape-meaning units of a crossroad, either one side or both sides, and a footprint. The two elements remained discrete items through ten style. (2) In kanji the two elements coalesced into one. (3) a bushu shinnyoo added the sense of setting off an action or moving forward to the component that provided another meaning or sound.
There are a few more shapes that originated from something in human habitats that I would like to look at. In the next two or three posts, I am thinking about 廴, a bushu ennyoo, and 京 “a house on top of a hill” among other shapes. [January 23, 2016]