This is the second post on kanji that contains 斤 “axe; adze.” The kanji are 近新祈斬暫断斥訴. We are also going to look at a few kanji that were closely related to 刀 “knife; sword” – 刃忍認 with 刃 “blade.”
The kanji 近 “near; recent; close”
For the kanji 近 in ten style, in red, the left side had a crossroad above a footprint, which together almost always formed a bushu shinnyoo “to go forward” in kanji. The right side, 斤, was used phonetically and meant “little.” Going a small distance signified “close; near.” The kanji 近 meant “near; close; recent.”
The kun-yomi 近い /chika’i/ means “near; close,” and is in 近々 (“before long; shortly” /chika’jika/), 間近に (“approaching, impending” /majika-ni/), and 身近 (“familiar; at one’s side” /mijika/), in みぢか in hiragana. The on-yomi /ki’n/ is 近所 (“neighborhood” /ki’njo/), 最近 (“recently” /saikin.), 遠近感 (“depth of vision” /enki’nkan/) and 近代 (“modern” /ki’ndai/). Another on-yomi /ko’n; kono/ is in 昨今 (“these days” /sa’kkon/) and in 近衛兵 (“royal guard; household troops” /konoe’hee/).
The kanji 新 “new; fresh”
For the kanji 新, (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, had a tatooing needle with a handle (辛), and an axe (斤) that was used phonetically for /shi’n/. The blade was at a right angle to the handle. In bronze ware style, in green, the needle in (c) had an emphatic dot. In (d) in ten style the left side had a tree (木) added to 辛. Shirakawa says that a tree chosen to be cut down was pierced with a needle in ritual, and that the kanji 新 meant “a tree that was marked with a needle to be cut down with an axe.” From a freshly cut tree, the kanji 新 came to mean “new; recent.”
The kun-yomi /atarashi’i/ means “new.” Another kun-yomi 新たに /a’ratani/ means “newly.” The on-yomi /shi’n/ is in 新聞 (“newspaper” /shinbun/), 新旧 (“new and old” /shi’nkyuu/).
The kanji祈 “to pray”
For the kanji 祈 (a) in oracle bone style was an axe. In (b) the top was an axe, and the bottom was a two-pronged thrusting weapon or shield to protect a soldier. In (c) in bronze ware style, the top was a banner for troops, and the right side was an axe, used phonetically for /ki/. (d) had a footprint at the top, signifying troops advancing. Together they meant praying for good luck in a battle. In (e) in ten style, the left side became an altar table, and it further changed to a bushu shimesuhen ネ “religious matter” in kanji. The kanji 祈 meant “to pray.”
The kun-yomi /ino’ru/ means “to pray.” The on-yomi /ki/ is in 祈願する (“to pray for” /ki’gan-suru/) and 祈祷 (“prayer” /kitoo/).
The kanji斬 “to cut; chop; hack”
For the kanji 斬 a vehicle on the left side (車) and an axe (斤) on the right side together meant “to cut/hack (materials) with an axe to make a vehicle.”
The kun-yomi /ki’ru/ means “to axe; cut.” The on-yomi /za’n/ is in 斬新なデザイン (“drastically new design” /zanshin-na deza’in/) and 斬首 (“decapitation” /za’nshu/).
The kanji 漸 “gradual”
By adding “water” on the left to 斬 “to cut; chop,” which was used phonetically for /ze’n/, we get the kanji 漸. 漸 was the name of a river. The kanji 漸 meant “gradual movement,” like water seeping through over time.
The kun-yomi is in 漸く (“gradually” /yooyaku/). The on-yomi /ze’n/ is in 漸次 (“gradually; one by one” /ze’nji/).
The kanji 暫 “for a short period of time”
By adding 日 “sun” to the kanji 斬 for phonetic use, we get the kanji 暫. The kanji 暫 meant “short period of time.”
The kun-yomi 暫 /shiba’raku/ means “for a short period of time/. The on-yomi /za’n/ is in 暫定的な (“temporary” /zanteeteki-na/) and 暫時 (“for a short time, /zanji/).
The kanji 断 “to cut off; severe; break”
For the kanji 断, in ten style the left side had four skeins of threads cut short that were placed on shelves. The right side was an axe. Together they signified “to cut off; severe” or “drastic action.” The kyujitai, in blue, reflected the ten style writing. Just think of writing this kanji in kyujitai. A lot of strokes in a small space. The shinjitai replaced to 米 to reduce stokes. The kanji 断 means “to cut off; stop; decline; drastic action.
The kun-yomi 断る /kotowaru/ means “to turn down; decline.” The on-yomi /da’n/ is in 判断 (“judgment” /ha’ndan/), 断水 (“suspension of water supply” /dansui/), 中断する (“to suspend” /chuudan-suru/) and 決断する (“to make a decision” /ketsudan-suru/).
The kanji 斥 “to send away; refuse; defeat”
The kanji 斥 appears to share the same shape with the kanji斤, except that it has an extra stroke. But the ten style writing tells us a totally different story – It had 广 “house” and 屰 ”reverse” (as found in the kanji 逆 “reverse; wrong way”). Together they meant “to send away; refuse; defeat.”
The kun-yomi 斥ける /shirizoke’ru/ means “to send away; defeat; turn down.” The on-yomi /se’ki/ is in 排斥する (“to repel; reject” /haiseki-suru/).
The kanji 訴 “to take someone to court; call for; appeal”
For the kanji 訴 we have three ten style writings. (c) was 愬 ( a heart that repels屰). The kanji 訴 meant “to sue; appeal; take an legal action.”
The kun-yomi /uttae’ru/ means “to appeal; sue; take a legal action.” The on-yomi /so/ is in 訴訟事件 (“lawsuit case” /soshooji’ken/), 告訴 (“accuse; charge” /ko’kuso/), 訴状 (“written complaint in a lawsuit” /sojoo.)
There are three kanji related to 刀 that we have not included in the two earlier posts on 刀due to lack of space. Let us have a quick look at them here.
The kanji 刃 “blade; cutting edge”
For the kanji 刃, in oracle bone style a knife had a short line pointing out its blade. In ten style, the point was still there. The kanji 刃 meant “blade.”
The kun-yomi 刃 /yaiba/ meant “blade; cutting edge.” /Ha/ means /blade/, is in 刃物 (“edged tool” /ha’mono/) and ノコギリ刃 “saw blade” /nokogiriba/), and 刃向かう (“to raise a hand against; defy” /hamuka’u/).
The kanji 忍 “patience”
For the kanji 忍in bronze ware style the top was a sharp blade of a knife, and the bottom was a heart. This combination remained through ten style and kanji. A person’s heart on a sharp knife signified a heart that was strong and tenacious, thus it meant “patience.” The kanji 忍 meant “patience.”
The kun-yomi /shino’bu/ means “to endure.” The on-yomi /ni’n/ is in 忍耐 (“patience” /ni’ntai/), 堪忍袋の緒が切れる(“one’s patience comes to the breaking point” /kanninbu’kuro-no o’ga-kireru/).
The kanji 認 “to recognize”
for the kanji 認 two ten style writings had a bushu gonben “word; language.” The right side of (a) had a blade and a heart signifying a tenacious heart, whereas (b) dropped the heart. Together they meant listening patiently to what another person has to say and accepting it. The kanji 認 meant “to accept” or “to recognize.”
The kun-yomi /mitomeru/ means “to recognize.” The on-yomi /ni’n/ is in 認識する (“to recognize” /ninshiki-suru/), 認定 (“certification” /nintee/) and 確認する (“to confirm” /kakunin-suru/).
We continue exploring kanji that originated from sharp objects and weapons in next several posts. Thank you very much for your interest. – Noriko [December 4, 2016]