In this posting, we are going to look at the kanji 隔融徹撤 and 甚勘堪. “How often are they used?” we may wonder. Just for a curious mind, I have here the information on how frequently these kanji appeared in newspapers, etc., before the Joyo kanji revision (that is, among the 1,945 Joyo kanji.) I have taken this from Yasuyo Tokuhiro’s work: (The letter F stands for frequency order) — 隔 (F1411), 融 (F0826), 徹 (F1177), 撤 (F1363), 甚 (F1075), 勘 (F1515) and 堪 (new Joyo kanji). Her research predated the new Joyo kanji revision in 2010 (the publication was in 2008).
Now let us start with the component 鬲. 鬲 /reki/ is not a kanji we use by itself, but we have the history as shown on the right. (a) in oracle bone style, in brown, (b) and (c) in bronze ware style, in green, and (d) in seal style, in red, was a clay tripod (meaning, three-legged) pot. The legs were thick and hollow, and it was used to keep grains.
The kanji 隔 “to separate; shield”
The left side of the seal style writing became a bushu kozatohen in kanji. A bushu kozatohen had various meanings – “a hill or mountains placed vertically,” which signified “a pile of dirt; a dirt wall separating the area; a boundary” or “a ladder; a ladder from which a god descends.” For the kanji 隔, one view is that the left side “hill” signified separating an area, and 鬲 was used phonetically for /kaku/ to mean “to block.” Together they meant “to block; separate.” The second view is that placing a tripod in front of a divine ladder signified separation of a sacred area from a secular area. The third view is that inside the pod (鬲) there was a division between grains at the top and water in the legs to cook the contents, and it signified “to separate.” If we take the first view, “hills separating areas” gave the meaning “to isolate; insulate.” The kanji 隔 means “to separate; insulate.”
The kun-yomi 隔てる /hetate’ru/ means “to leave (a distance); shield; separate.” The on-yomi /kaku/ is in 間隔 (“interval spacing; gap” /kankaku/) and 隔離する (“to isolate; quarantine” /kakuri-suru/). <the composition of the kanji 隔: 阝 and 一, 口, 冂, 八 and 丅>
The kanji 融 “to melt”
In large seal style, in light blue, which predated small seal style, (in this blog we simply call it seal style) and in seal style, it had 鬲 “a clay tripod to cook in,” and 蟲 that was used phonetically for /chuu/ to mean “to come out.” Together steam coming out during cooking gave the meaning of “something melting coming out.” In seal style, the right side 蟲 became 虫. The kanji 融 means “to melt; dissolve.” <the composition of the kanji 融: 鬲 and 虫>
The kun-yomi 融ける /toke’ru/ “to melt” is not a Jojo kanji reading. The on-yomi /yuu/ is in 金融業 (“financial business” /kinyu’ugyoo/), 金融緩和 (“monetary relaxation” /kinyuukanwa/), 核融合(“nuclear fusion” /kakuyu’ugoo/) and 融解 (“melting; thawing” /yuukai/).
The kanji 徹 “to do thoroughly; penetrate”
(a) in oracle bone style had “a tripod” and “a hand,” signifying “a person laying tripods in a row by hand.” In (b) in bronze ware style “a footprint” was added to signify “keeping on doing something.” It meant “to penetrate; stick to.” (c) in Old style, in purple, had 彳 “a crossroad,” taking the place of “a footprint,” 鬲 “a tripod” and 攴 “to cause an action.” In (d) in seal style 鬲 was replaced by 育. Some scholars view this as miscopied. The kanji 徹 took (d). The kanji 徹 means “to do thoroughly; penetrate; stick to.”
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /tetsu/ is in 徹底的な (“exhaustive; thorough” /tetteeteki-na/), 貫徹する (“to carry through; achieve” /kantetsu-suru/), 冷徹な (“cool-headed” /reetetsu-na/), and 一徹な (“obstinate; headstrong” /ittetsu-na/). <the composition of the kanji: 彳, 育 and 攵>
The kanji 撤 “to remove; withdraw”
There is no ancient writing. The kanji 徹 is closely related to the kanji 徹, originally having the meaning “finishing laying tripods in a row.” On the left side, instead of 彳, a bushu gyooninben “to go on doing,” 扌, a bushu tehen “an act that one does using a hand,” was used. Together they have two seemingly contradictory meanings – one is “to scatter something by hand” and the other “to remove what was laid out by hand.” The kanji 撤 means “to scatter; remove; withdraw from a previous activity.” <the composition of the kanji: 扌, 育 and 攵>
The kun-yomi /maku/ means 水撒き (“watering; sprinkling” /mizuma’ki/), 撒き散らす (“to disperse; scatter” /makichira’su/) and豆撒き (“bean-scattering ceremony” /mame’maki/) on Setsubun day. The on-yomi /tetsu/ is in 撤兵する (“to withdraw the troops from abroad” /teppee-suru/) and 撤退する (“to withdraw from activities” /tettai-suru/) and (案を)撤回する (“to withdraw a proposal” /a’n o tekkai-suru/).
5. The kanji 甚 “exceedingly”
In bronze ware style, Old style, and seal style it was a brazier (a portable cooking apparatus) with a pot on top. It meant “to cook food thoroughly over a fire.” From cooking food over a heat well it meant “thoroughly” or “excessively.” This is the account by Shirakawa. Another view that other scholars take is based on the account on Setsumon Kaiji — it signified pleasure between a man and a woman. Looking at the bronze ware style writing a brazier with a pot makes more sense to me until I come across something else in the future. The kanji 甚 meant “exceedingly; intense.” <the composition of the kanji 甚: 其 and an angle on the bottom left>
The kun-yomi 甚だしい (“grossly” /hanahadashi’i/) and 甚だ (“immensely; exceedingly” /hanahada/) as an adverb. The on-yomi /jin/ is in甚大な (“tremendous; enormous” /jindai-na/), 幸甚 (“thankful; grateful” /koojin/) as in the phrase 幸甚に存じます “I appreciate it very much” in a very formal correspondence.
The kanji 勘 “to investigate; perception”
The seal style writing comprised 甚 “thoroughly; exceedingly” and 力 “effort.” Together they meant “to look over thoroughly or check against something else.” In Japanese it is also used to mean “perceptiveness; intuition.” The kanji 勘 means “to investigate; perceptiveness; intuition; sixth sense.” <the composition of the kanji 勘; 甚 and 力>
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /kan/ is in 勘違い (“misunderstanding” /kanchi’gai/) 勘のいい(“quick on the uptake; intuitive; perceptive” /kannoi’i/), 勘弁する (“to forgive; pardon” /ka’nben-suru/), 勘ぐる (“to suspect; surmise” /kangu’ru/), 勘定 (“calculation; account” /kanjo’o/) and 割り勘にする (“to share expenses with” /warikan-ni suru).
- The kanji 堪 “to ensure; bear”
The seal style writing comprised 土 “soil; ground,” and 甚 “excessive,” which was used phonetically for /kan; tan/. Together they originally meant “a large mound of soil,” possibly “a kiln” (Shirakawa). What was baked in a kiln went through extreme heat and it gave the meaning “to endure; bear.” The kanji 堪 means “to withstand; bear; tolerate.” <the composition of the kanji 堪: 土へん and 甚>
The kun-yomi 堪える /tae’ru/ means “to suffer; endure,” and is in 堪え難い (“intolerable; unbearable” /taegata’i/), 堪え忍ぶ (to abide; bear; stand” /taeshino’bu/). Another kun-yomi /korae’ru / “to bear suffering” is not a Joyo kanji reading, but the word itself is often used in such phrases as 怒りを堪える (“to restrain one’s anger” /ikari’o korae’ru/) and 堪え性のない (“with no perseverance” /koraeshoo-no-na’i/).
There also are two on-yomi. The on-yomi /kan/ is in 堪忍 (“forgiveness” /ka’nnin/) and 堪忍する (“to be patient with; let someone off” /ka’nnin-suru/), the expression 堪忍袋の尾が切れる (“run out of patience; can no longer put up with” /kanninbu’kuro-no o’-ga kire’ru/). I have just realized to my surprise that the other on-yomi /tan/ is not included even on the revised Joyo kanji list. It is in 堪能な (“proficient; expert” /tannoo-na/) and 堪能する (“to enjoy to one’s content” /tannoo-suru/). Sometimes words that are used often are not included in Joyo kanji, while some of the Joyo kanji are rarely used.
The more complex the kanji the more twists it contains in its history, and sometimes it is not worth the time to spend mulling it over. I am afraid this week’s kanji may belong to that group. Hopefully we shall look at kanji that are more familiar to us next week. Thank you very much for your reading. -Noriko [September 2, 2017]