The Kanji 氷凍冷冬終疑凝寒塞—“icy cold”

Standard

Water freezes making ice. We are going to look at kanji that contain ice in this post.

  1. The kanji 氷 “ice”

History of Kanji 氷For the kanji 氷, in bronze ware style, (a) in green, the left side was “water.” On the right side the two dots signified ice. How do we know? The ten style writing, (b) in red, gives us a clearer picture – In (b) the lines on the left side were white streaks or cracks that appeared in ice. Water that was frozen meant “ice.” In kanji when ice became a component on the left side it became a bushu /nisui/ “ice; icy cold” as seen in kanji (c) 冰, in purple. The name nisui “two-stroke water” came from a familiar bushu sanzui “three-stroke water.” However, the kanji (c) 冰 is not used in Japanese (I believe it is used in Chinese.) In Japanese “ice” became just one stroke on the top left corner above 水. The kanji 氷 means “ice.”

The kun-yomi 氷 /koori/ means “ice.” Another kun-yomi /hi/ is in 氷室 (“icehouse” /hi’muro/). The on-yomi /hyo’o/ is in 氷河 (“iceberg” /hyo’oga/) and 氷点下 (“below freezing; below frost” /hyoote’nka/). The phrase 氷山の一角 (“small part of a larger problem” /hyo’ozan-no ikkaku’/) means “the tip of the iceberg.”

  1. The kanji 凍 “to freeze”

History of Kanji 凍In the kanji 氷 it was water that was frozen. When stuff other than water froze there was another kanji, 凍, which has the kanji 東 on the right side. Our readers may recall from an earlier post that the kanji 東 “east” was a borrowed kanji (meaning, the use of shape and sound was not related to its origin). The original shape of 東 was “stuff tied around.” We discussed that the shape 重 in the kanji such as 動働重童, all of which had pertained to moving something heavy, came from 東 “stuff tied around.” [The Kanji 東動働重童力-“power” (3) on January 6, 2015] In the kanji 凍, the component 東 was also used in its original meaning “stuff.” Together with the “ice” on the left, they created the writing that meant “(stuff) freezes.” We have seen consistently that a recurring component of kanji retained the original meaning even when used by itself it meant totally different.

The kun-yomi /kooru/ means “to freeze.” Another kun-yomi /kogoeru/ is used for a person, and means “to be numb with cold; be chilled to the bone.” The on-yomi /to’o/ is in 冷凍庫 (“freezer” /reeto’oko/), 凍傷 (“frostbite” /tooshoo/) and 凍結する (“to freeze (asset, road)” /tooketsu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 冷 “to chill; cool down; cold (to touch)”

History of Kanji 冷For the kanji 冷, in ten style the left side was “ice,” and the right side 令 was used phonetically for /re’e/ and meant “listening to a god’s order reverently without emotion.” Together they meant “to chill; cool down; cold (to touch).” In kanji, the left side became a bushu nisui “icy; very cold.”

There are three kun-yomi for the kanji 冷. /Tsume/ is in 冷たい (“cold (to touch)” /tsumetai/.) /Hi/ is in 冷やす (“to chill” /hiya’su/), as in ビールを冷やす (“to chill beer” /bi’iru-o hiya’su/), 冷ややかな (“chilly; distant” in one’s demeanor /hiya’yakana/) and 冷や汗をかく (“to break into a cold sweat” /hiyaa’se-o ka’ku/). /Sa/ is in 冷ます (“to cool something down” /sama’su/), as in お湯を冷ます (“to let hot water cool down” /oyu-o sama’su/). The on-yomi /re’e/ is in 冷静な (“cool headed; serene; calm” /reesee-na/) and 冷淡な (“coldhearted; lukewarm” /reeta’n-na/.)

  1. The kanji 疑 “to doubt”

Before we look at the kanji 凝 that contains a bushu nisui, let us look at the right side, the kanji 疑. The story of the kanji 疑 is somewhat problematic because the shapes went through so many changes over the years. But the original meaning “standstill; not being able to move” was kept in both 疑 and 凝.

History of Kanji 疑For the kanji 疑, we have two oracle bone style writing samples, (a) and (b) on the left. In (a) a person was turning his head with a long stick behind him. In (b), a person was facing toward the left with a crossroad behind him. He was not sure which way to go at a crossroad and was standing still. From that it meant “to doubt.” It sounds straightforward so far. However later on different elements were added to this, and I find it very difficult to follow the story. For instance the bronze ware style writing sample (c) in Akai (2010) appears to have had a “cow” on the top left side. I cannot figure out why so. The ten style writing, (d), could be dissected to ヒ and an arrow on the left and a child and a footprint on the right. Again what all those elements contributed to the meaning is not clear. In school we learned this kanji as ヒ矢マ疋. Other teachers seem to have come up with different mnemonics.

The kun-yomi 疑う /utagau/ means “to doubt,” and is in 疑い (“suspicion; doubt” /utagai/). The on-yomi /gi/ is in 疑問 (“question to ask” /gimon/), 疑念 (“a feeling of doubt; misgivings” /ginen/), 懐疑 (“skepticism; unbelief” /ka’igi/) and 半信半疑 (“uncertain as to the veracity of someone’s story” /hanshinha’ngi/.)

  1. The kanji 凝 “to become solid or stiff; totally engrossed; elaborate”

History of Kanji 凝Now we look at the kanji 凝. The left side was “ice,” and the right side 疑 was used phonetically for /gi/ to mean “to stand still.” Together “staying fixedly like water becoming ice” meant “to become solid or stiff; standstill.” When one gets totally engrossed in doing something one stays still as if frozen. From that it also meant “to become obsessed,” and also what he makes may become “elaborate; ornate.”

The kun-yomi 凝る /ko’ru/ means “to get stiff; totally engrossed; develop passion for,” and is in 肩こり /kota’kori/ from 肩が凝る (“to get stiff solders” /ka’ta-ga-koru/), 凝った (“elaborate; ornate” /ko’tta/) and 凝り性 (“a tendency to become totally immersed in something” /kori’shoo/). The on-yomi /gyo’o/ is in 凝固 (“solidification; condensation; clotting” /gyo’oko/) and 凝視する (“to stay fixedly at; watch something intently” /gyo’oshi-suru/).

The three kanji 凍冷凝 that we have seen so far had “ice” on the left side, which was a bushu nisui. When ice appeared at the bottom, it became two slanted short lines. We are going to look at three examples of those – 冬終寒.

  1. The kanji 冬 “winter”

History of Kanji 冬For the kanji 冬, the oracle bone style writing and bronze ware style writing were a bent rope with a knot or loop on both ends. It meant “end.” In ten style a piece of ice was added underneath. It came to mean the end of four seasons, which is winter. Another interpretation (in Kanjigen) is that the loops at the bottom in oracle bone style writing and the bulges in bronze ware style writing were food hanging down for winter use. With “ice” added at the bottom the kanji 冬 meant “winter.”

The kun-yomi 冬 /huyu’/ means “winter,” and is in 冬服 (“winter clothes” /huyuhuku/) and 冬ごもり (“winter confinement; wintering in” /huyugomori/). The on-yomi /to’o/ is in 立冬 (“first day of winter” /rittoo/), 冬至 (“winter solstice” /tooji/) and 冬眠 (“hibernation” /toomin/).

  1. The kanji 終 “to end”

History of Kanji 終The kanji 終 had the same oracle bone and bronze ware style writing as 冬 in 6, which suggests that it was inclusive of the meaning of 冬 and 終. The two knots at the ends of a long rope meant “to end; finish; complete.” In ten style, 糸 “thread; continuous” was added to emphasize something long and continuous.

The kun-yomi 終る /owaru/ means “to end; finish.” The on-yomi /shu’u/ is in 終了 (“end; close; conclusion” /shuuryoo/), 終日 (“all day long” /shuujitsu/), 最終日 (“last day; final day” /saishu’ubi/), バスの終点 (“last bus stop; end of the bus line” /ba’su-no shuuten/) and 始終 (“all the time; always” /shi’juu/).

  1. The kanji 寒 “cold”

History of Kanji 寒For the kanji 寒 in bronze ware style writings (a) and (b) a person, in the center, was trying to get warm in a house where dry grasses were piled up. (a) had floor mats underneath. It meant “cold.” In ten style, (c) had two hands over ice, as if he was blocking the cold air coming in. The sample (d) was taken from a seal from the Qin-Han era. In it, the grass was replaced by four 工. 工 could be 土 “dirt” or processed dirt such as dirt brick. The ice is gone but the floor rug returned. Together, (d) signified a house with walls of dirt bricks and floor mat keeping one from getting cold. In kanji (e), the ice became the two short slanted strokes. The shape in (e) reflects more of (d) at the top but (c) at the bottom. The kanji 寒い means “cold (to feel).”

The kun-yomi /samu’i/ means “cold.” and is in 寒がる (“to complain of the cold” /samuga’ru/) and 寒気がする (“to feel chill” due to illness /samuke’gasuru). /Zamu/ is in 肌寒い (“chilly” /hadazamu‘i/). The on-yomi /ka’n/ is in 寒気 (“cold air” /ka’nki/), 寒波 (“cold wave” /ka’npa/).

  1. The kanji 塞 “to seal off; stop up; obstruct”

History of Kanji 塞The kanji 塞 is not related to ice, but since the only difference between the kanji 寒 and 塞 is 土 at the bottom, it may give us a different perspective on the kanji 寒. For the kanji 塞 in ten style the top was walls of dirt bricks inside the house, and the bottom was two hands sealing off a hole to stop dirt from coming in. Together the kanji 塞 meant “to seal off; stop up; obstruct.”

What is interesting to me in comparing the ten style writings of 寒 and 塞 is that the shared shape in kanji was not the same in ten style — One (寒) with “grass” is trying to pile up dry grasses to keep warm, and the other (塞) with dirt bricks is to pile up dirt bricks to seal. And yet, the seal sample (d) in 寒 in 8 took the shape in ten style writing of 塞. Two different components that were evident in ten style merged to become a single kanji component shape in kanji, that is 寒 and 塞 without “ice” or “dirt” at the bottom.

The kun-yomi 塞ぐ /husagu/ means “to seal off; stop up; obstruct,” and is also used for emotion, as in 気が塞ぐ (“to feel depressed” /ki-ga-husagu/). The on-yomi /sa’i/ is in 要塞 (“fort” /yoosai).

Following our last post in which we looked at kanji that came from river (from “water running”), we looked at the shape that would happen when water froze. “Ice” created two shapes — a bushu nisui, when used on the left side, and two slanted short strokes, when used at the bottom. Both carried the meaning “cold; icy.” [April 17, 2016]

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