The Kanji 時昔借春昨 – 日ひへん (3)


We have been discussing kanji that contain a bushu hihen (日). This is the third post on this topic.

  1. The kanji 時 “time; hour; o’clock”

History of Kanji 時We have looked at the kanji 時 in connection with 寸 “hand” in the earlier post. [寺持待侍特時詩等- “temple; to sustain” on January 24, 2015]  We saw that as a common component 寺 meant “to sustain; hold,” and that it was used mostly phonetically. The history of the kanji 時 is shown on the left with some additional writings.

The three oracle bone style writings, (a), (b) and (c) in brown, had “footprint” at the top and “the sun” at the bottom. By itself, a footprint became the kanji 之 “to go” and 止 ”to halt one’s step.” The sun never stays in one place. The sun moving on and footprint walking forward together meant “passage of time; time.” We do not have bronze ware style writings but the next two (d) and (e) were before ten style was formalized. (e) came from a sekkobun 石鼓文, writing that was chiseled on a stone. In (e) the sun moved to the left side and the right side became 寺 (“footprint” and “hand”) that was used phonetically for /ji/. The three components in (e) appeared in the ten style writing, (f), and the kanji, (g), except one point. In kanji (g), the right top 之 from a footprint, “to go,” became 土 “soil; ground,” not the same meaning. This disjunction of the two shapes (from “footprint” to “soil; ground”) is also seen in the kanji 売 (賣) in which footprint became 士 at the top, as we have seen in another post earlier [Hands and Legs – Ninnyoo 儿 (4) 売読続出買 on October 3, 2014]. The change occurred in standardization process to reduce a number of shapes. The kanji 時 also means “hour; o’clock.” For sample words, please refer to the previous post.

Note: The oracle bone style writings (a), (b) and (c) are taken from Akai (2010). Shirakawa stated that there was no oracle bone or bronze ware style writing for 時. Instead he gave (d) and (e) as its earlier writings.

  1. The kanji 昔 “bygone days; ancient times”

History of Kanji 昔For the kanji 昔, the two oracle bone style writings and the bronze ware style writing, in green, had two or three wavy lines at the top and the sun at the bottom. What were these wavy lines? The interpretations among reference vary; (1) layers of floor covering (Kadokawa); and (2) an abstract symbol for “accumulation” (Kanjigen). With the sun added to the meaning layers, accumulation or repeat, the kanji 昔 meant “bygone days; ancient times.” Another interpretation (3) is that top was thin pieces of meat dried under the sun, i.e. a jerky (Shirakawa from Setsumon). Then it was borrowed to mean “bygone days; ancient times.”

The kun-yomi /mukashi/ means “bygone days; ancient times,” and is in 昔々 (“once upon a time” /mukashimukashi/), 大昔 (“a long time ago” /oomu’kashi/), 昔話 (“folklore; reminiscences” /mukashiba’nashi/) and 昔なじみの人 (“old familiar face” /mukashina’jimi-no-hito/). The kun-yomi /se’ki/ is only in writing such as 昔日 (“old days” /sekijitu/). Another on-yomi /shaku; ja’ku/ is a go-on, and is even more limited to 今昔 /konjaku/, as in 今昔物語 (“Konjaku Stories” from the Heian period /konjakumonoga’tari/). But this on-yomi /shaku/ is used phonetically in the kanji 借, which is our next kanji.

  1. The Kanji 借 “to borrow”

History of Kanji 借The ten style writing of the kanji 借 had a standing person on the left and the shape from the kanji昔 on the right side, which was used phonetically to mean “to borrow temporarily.“ It meant “to borrow.”

The kun-yomi 借りる /kariru/ means “to borrow,” and is in 借り手 (“borrower” /karite/) and 貸し借り (“lending and borrowing” /kashi’kari/). The on-yomi /sha’ku/ is in 借金 (“borrowing money” /shakki’n/), 借家 (“rented house” /shakuya/) and 拝借する (“to borrow” in a humble style /haishaku-suru/).

  1. The kanji 春 “spring”

History of Kanji 春The history of the kanji 春 is shown on the left. In oracle bone style (a) the left side had a tree and the sun, and the right side also was a tree. I am unable to figure out what the center signified. (No interpretation is available on this shape.) The bronze ware style writing (b) had grass or plants at the top, a plant trying to sprout up in the middle and the sun at the bottom. Together they meant the season when plants are pushing upward under the brighter sun — that is, “spring.” The ten style writing (c) was a stylized version of (b). But as we know, the kanji 春 (e) consists of three horizontal lines三, the kanji 人, and 日. I always find it somewhat difficult to see the flow from ten style to kanji in 春. So this time I went back to writing samples between the two styles, including inscriptions on a stone stele and brush writings on silk cloth. The photo (d) is a sample of brush writing on silk cloth in the 2nd century B.C. taken directly from a reference, not my reproduction by hand. I think that in (d) we can recognize how the lines in (c) were simplified to the kanji shape (e).

The kun-yomi /ha’ru/ means “spring,” and is in the expression 我が世の春 (“one’s peak of prosperity; heyday” /wa’gayono ha’ru) and 春学期 (“spring school term” /haruga’kki/). The on-yomi /shu’n/ is in 春分の日 (“Vernal Equinox Day,” around March 21 /shunbun-no-hi/), 思春期 (“(early) adolescence” /shishu’nki/) and 春秋に富む (“to be young” /shunjuu-ni-to’mu/).

  1. The kanji 昨 “past; last”

History of Kanji 昨The kanji 作 is a phonetic-semantic composite形声文字– 日, a bushu hihen, “the sun,” and 乍for the sound /sa’ku/. So, let us take a look at the fuller history of the right side 乍 shown on the right. History of Kanji 乍There are two different views on the origin of 乍 — (1) a craft tool for chipping off pieces of wood; and (2) bending vines in a craft such as a basket-making. 乍 meant “to make; create.” Later on 乍 began to be used phonetically in other kanji, so an additional component was added to differentiate the meanings. For the original meaning ”to make; create” a person was added (作). With the sun 日 added, the kanji 昨 was created to mean “last; previous.” With a sake cask 酉 added, the kanji for “vinegar; sour” was created (酢).

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /sa’ku/ is in 昨年 (“last year” /sakunen/), 一昨年 (“the before last” /issakunen/) and 昨日 (“yesterday” /saku’jitu/), all of which have a slightly more formal tone than 去年 /kyo’nen/ for “last year,” おととし /oto’toshi/ for “the year before last” and きのう /kinoo/ for “yesterday.”

A few more kanji that contain 日 have been discussed earlier. For the kanji 映, please read the post entitled The Kanji 大太天夫央英映笑-Posture (1) on March 14, 2015, and for the kanji 普 and 譜, the post entitled The Kanji 立位泣粒並普譜 – Posture (2) on March 25, 2015. Other kanji such as 曜 “day of the week” and 暖 “warm” came into existence relatively recently and do not have ten style writings. We will probably look at 曜 later on when we take up the topics on animals (曜 has 羽 “wing; feather” and 隹 “bird” on the right side).

In the next post I would like to start discussing the shapes that came from a moon – 月 and 夕 [March 5, 2016]

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