The Kanji 土圧吐場湯揚 and Keiseimoji


In this post, we are going to look at a few kanji that contains 土 “dirt; soil; ground.”  The component 土 appears in a few different positions- on yje lest side, right sode and at the bottom. We are hoing to look at 土圧吐, and 場, which has been touched on earlier along with 陽傷. [The Kanji 阜降陟陽陰今雲隊陸ーこざとへん(1) November 14, 2015] In relating to 場, we also look at the kanji 揚湯 that share the same component 昜so that we will have five kanji 揚湯場陽傷 that share the same right side component, but with a different left side component. This is a good place for us to think about different roles that each side of a composite kanji played.

  1. The kanji 土 “dirt; soil; indigenous”

History of Kanji 土For the kanji 土, the writing in oracle bone style, (a) in brown, was the outline of a lump of dirt placed on the ground to celebrate the god of the earth. It meant “soil; dirt; ground; land.” In bronze ware style, (b) in green, the vertical line had a bulge, and in (c) the bulge became a line, which became (d) in ten style, in red. Something that is attached to a land also gave the meaning “indigenous.”

The kun-yomi /tsuchi’/ means “dirt; soil,” and is in 土がつく (“to suffer a defeat” /tsuchi’-ga-tsuku). The on-yomi /do/ is in 国土 (“territory; ream; domain” /ko’kudo/), 土足 (“without wearing footwear on” /dosoku/), 土台 (“foundation” /dodai/), 土木工事 (“civil engineering work” /dobokuko’oji/) and 土着の (“indigenous; native” /dochaku-no/). Another on-yomi /to/ is in 土地 (“land; lot” /tochi/).

  1. The kanji 圧 (壓) “to press; pressure”

History of Kanji 厭The shinjitai kanji 圧 was a drastically trimmed shape from kyujitai 壓. The ten style writing, below, consisted of 厭 at the top and.土 at the bottom. The top 厭 by itself is a kanji that means “to press from above; weary.” Its history is on the right. The left side of thebronze ware style writing had a bone at the top and meat/flesh at the bottom, and the right side was a dog — Together they signified sacrificial dog meat. In ten style a cover or something hanging over () was added. From a cover pressing something down, the kanji 厭 meant “to press from above; weary of.” It is not a Joyo kanji but is used in the word 厭世 (“weary of the world/life” /ensee/). It is also used for 厭な /iya’na/ “to dislike” and 厭う (“to loathe; detest” /ito’u/).

History of Kanji 圧For the ten style writing of 壓 for 圧, in addition to 厭, 土 “dirt” was added at the bottom. One interpretation is that together they signified a sacrificial dog placed on or in the ground to quell or appease the ground. It meant “to oppress; push down; pressure.” Fortunately for us, in shinjitai only the two essential elements, the pressing cover (厂) and the soil (土), were kept. So simple mnemonics would be that something pressed between a cover and the ground means “to press; pressure.” The etymology above is just for curiosity.

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji reading. The on-yomi /a’tsu/ is in 圧力 (“pressure” /atsu’ryoku/), 圧迫する (“to press; to bear down on” /appaku-suru/), 電圧 (“voltage” /den-atsu/), 圧政 (“tyranny” /assee/), and 圧勝 (“landslide victory; overwhelming victory” /asshoo/).

  1. The kanji 吐 “to vomit; spew; spit out”

History of Kanji 吐The kanji 吐 is a simple kanji with 口 and 土 together. The right side 土 was used phonetically for /to/ to mean “ground.” Something that comes out of one’s mouth to the ground means “to vomit; spit out.”

The kun-yomi /ha’ku/ means “to vomit; spit out,” and in 吐き捨てる (“to spit out” /hakisute’ru/).  The on-yomi /to/ is in 吐血する (”to cough up blood” /toketsu-suru/) and the phrase 真情を吐露する (“to express one’s true sentiments /shinjoo-o to’ro-suru/).

Other kanji in which 土 appears at the bottom or on the right side of a kanji that we have looked at include the following:  至 “end” from “an arrow hitting the ground” [August 8, 2015]; 塾 “juku; private tutoring class” from “a place where knowledge is fostered to mature” [May 16, 2015]; 座 from “two people facing each other sitting on a dirt floor in a house [June 27, 2015]; 在 “to exist” from “dirt accumulated in a weir” [August 15, 2015]; and 塞 “to block” from “dirt blocking cold air coming inside a house” [April 17, 2016]. The component 土 in those kanji all contributed the meaning “ground; dirt; place.”

The Role of Hen (扁) in Keiseimoji 形声文字

When 土 appears on the left side it becomes a bushu tsuchihen, in which the third stroke goes up slightly. A left-side kanji component is generally called 扁 /hen/. Combining a hen and tsukuri 旁 (literal meaning is “beside; on the side”) on the right side was a very productive and economical way of expanding kanji inventory. In many 形声文字 /keeseemo’ji/ (commonly spelled as keiseimoji) “semantic-phonetic composite writing,” the general principle is that the hen gave the meaning, and the tsukuri gave the sound. The term, which consists of 形 “shape” and 声 “sound,” is translated as “semantic-phonetic writing” in English. (A number of terminologies exist but the gist of them is “meaning” and “sound; pronunciation”). In other words, “shape” was synonymous with “meaning” in keiseimoji in ancient writing. Our effort in exploring the connection between ancient writing shapes and meaning is in line with this.

In earlier posts we have looked at the kanji 陽 in connection with a bushu kozatohen along with 場 and 傷. There are a couple of more that have 昜 that we did not touch on then. So while the term keiseimoji is in our mind, let us look at two more kanji 湯 and 揚 (and also revisit the kanji 場) and come back to review them.

  4. The kanji 揚 “to raise high; deep fry”

History of Kanji 陽 (frame)In the earlier post, in discussing 陽 (its history is shown on the right), 昜 signified “the sun (top right) rising high (bottom right).” 昜 and “the sun hitting the mountains (on the left side) together meant “being made bright by the sun.” There is another interpretation — the top of 昜 was a jewel and the bottom was a tall alter table from which holy rays illuminated. From the sacred light that elevates people, 昜 meant “to elevate; heighten.”

History of Kanji 揚For the kanji 揚, if we look at bronze ware style writings (b) and (c) shown on the left, the interpretation of “jewel” rather than “sun” seems to fit better because it was held high by a person with two hands. One cannot hold the sun in his hands. The writing (d) was given as an older style in Setsumon. The right side of (d) had a hand. In ten style (e) five-fingers were recognizable, which in turn became a bushu tehen in kanji (f). The kanji 揚 means “to raise high (by hand).”

The kun-yomi 揚がる and 揚げる mean “to rise high” and “to raise” respectively. In Japanese it also meant “to deep-fry,” as in 天ぷらを揚げる (“to fry tempura” /tenpura-o ageru/). A piece of fried food lifts up out of hot cooking oil. The on-yomi /yo’o/ is in 国旗掲揚 (“hoisting of National flag” /kokkikeeyoo/) and 抑揚 (“intonation” /yokuyoo/) and 抑揚のない (“monotonous” /yokuyoo-no-na’i/).

  1. The kanji 湯 “hot water”

History of Kanji 湯For the kanji 湯, the left side of the bronze ware style writing was “(running) water,” which became a bushu sanzui in kanji, as we have seen in the posts in April. The right side 昜 was used phonetically for /to’o/ and to mean “rising.” What rises from water is steam from boiling water, and from that kanji 湯 meant “hot water.”

The kun-yomi /yu/ means “hot water; hot bath.” 湯を沸かす/yu’o wakasu/ or お湯を沸かす /oyu-o wakasu/ means “to boil water.” The on-yomi /to’o/ is in 熱湯 (“boiling water; very hot water” /nettoo/) and 給湯室 (“office kitchenette” /kyuuto’oshitsu/).

  1. The kanji 場 “place; venue”

History of Kanji 場 (frame)The kanji 場 has only the ten style sample shown on the right. The left side was 土 “soil; ground”, and the right side 昜 was used phonetically to mean a sun rising high. From a place where a sun rose high it meant“place; venue” in general.

The kun-yomi /ba/ means “place; venue,” and is in その場しのぎ (“stopgap; make-do” /sonobashi’nogi/), 場合 (“case; occasion” /baai/), 場面 (“situation; scene” /ba’men/), 場所 (“place” /basho/). The on-yomi /jo’o/ is in 会場 (“venue; place” /kaijoo/) and 駐車場 (“parking lot” /chuushajoo/).

For a later discussion: If we use two phonetic letter systems (the kana systems) to differentiate on-yomi and kun-yomi for words such as 場面 and 場所, we see an interesting point: ばメン and ばショ — The first kanji is read in kun-yomi and the second in on-yomi. This is the reverse of 台所 ダイどころ and 重箱 ジュウばこ, which is an on-kun combination, commonly known as 重箱読み /juubakoyomi/. This topic is something we can come back to in a later post.

Now let us compare the five keiseimoji 揚湯場陽傷 and see how the left side and the right side played their different roles in making these new kanji.

The different left side hen (氵土and ):  (1) 揚 “to raise high (by hand)” had a tehen扌 “hand” that raised something high. (2) 湯 “hot water” had a sanzui 氵“water,” that rises as steam when boiling. (3) 場 “place; venue” had a tsuchihen “dirt; soil; ground” where the sunshine hit. In previous post (4) 陽 “sun shine” had a kozatohen 阝“hill,” that receives bright light from the sun that is risen high. And (5) 傷 “wound; cut” had a ninben イ “person,” with 昜 used just for the sound, or a cover above 昜 preventing the rays of a jewel from emitting, thus “harm.”

The identical right side or the tsukuri 昜: In keieimoji, this component provided the sound. Sounds change over time. All the more, in transfering one phonetic system of a language (Chinese) to another language with a totally different sound system (Japanese), many changes took place. So, it is not that easy to see a direct correlation between the related kanji by reference to sound. Nontheless, /yoo/ for 揚, /too/ for 湯, /joo/ for 場, /yoo/ for 陽 and /shoo/ for 傷 show clear phonetic correlations in vowels. Another point to keep in mind about a recurring component that is used primarily phonetically is that its original meaning was also often reflected in the new kanji as well. Some were for a totally phonetic use.

We will continue another formation of 土, 圭 in the next post. [May 1, 2016]

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