Our exploration of kanji relationship between common shapes (including bushu shapes) and its origin has entered the fifth year this month. The remaining shapes that I am planning to discuss are tools, containers, bundled objects, and shapes. We begin with tools in this post –the kanji 式試拭・任妊・作昨酢詐搾・巨拒距・規.
The kanji 式 “formula; way of doing; ceremony”
For the kanji 式 the seal style writing, in red, comprised 弋 “a wooden stake for marking” and 工 “craft; a tool for carpentry.” Together they signified “a set way of making or doing something” or “formula.” The meaning was also used in a social setting, such as “ceremony.” The kanji 式 means “formula; way of doing; ceremony; style.” ＜The composition of the kanji 式: 弋 and 工＞ (the stroke order breaks up the two components)
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /shiki’/ means “ceremony; style; formula.” It is in 卒業式 (“graduation ceremony; commencement” /sotugyo’oshiki/), 和式 and 洋式 (“Japanese style, western style” /washiki/ and /yooshiki/), 正式な (“formal” /seeshiki-na/) and 公式 (“formula in mathematics; “official; formal” /kooshiki/).
The kanji 試 “to test; attempt to do something; trial”
For the kanji 試 the seal style writing comprised 言 “word; language; to say,” and 式 “a set way of doing,” which was used phonetically for /shi/. Together they meant “to try to find out the correct way to do by inquiring.” In testing an apprentice or applicant, an examiner asked his examinee a question on how he would do certain things. The kanji 試 means “to test; attempt to do something; trial.” <Composition of the kanji 試: 言 and 式）
The kun-yomi 試す /tame’su/ means “to try; attempt; put to a test,” and /-damesi/ is in 力試し (“test of one’s ability” /chikarada’meshi/). Another kun-yomi 試みる /kokoromi’ru/ means “to attempt; test.” The on-yomi /shi/ is in 試験 (“examination” /shike’n/), 試合 (“game; match” /shiai/) and 試行錯誤 (“trial and error” /shikoosa’kugo/).
The kanji 拭 “to wipe; mop”
There is no ancient writing for the kanji 拭. The kanji 拭 comprises 扌, a bushu tehen “an act that one does using a hand,” and 式, which was used phonetically for /shoku/ to mean “to wipe; clean.” Together they meant to wipe by hand. The kanji 拭 means “to wipe; mop.” <Composition of the kanji 拭: 扌 and式>
The kun-yomi 拭く /hu’ku/ means “to wipe” and is in 手拭き (“hand towel; cloth to dry one’s hands with” /tehuki’/). Another kun-yomi /nugu’u/ also means “to wipe,” and is in 手拭い (“tenugui thin cotton cloth” /tenugui/) and 尻拭いをする (”to clear up someone’s mess or blunder” /shirinu’gui-o-suru/). The on-yomi /shoku/ is in 払拭する (“to eradicate” /husshoku-suru/).
The next shape 壬 “something thick in the middle” from a smithery table had a bulge in the middle, as shown on the right. It is different from 壬 and 王 in the kanji 廷庭呈程望 (In those kanji the middle line came from a line pointing a straight shin signifying “standing; straight”).
The kanji 任 “to entrust; leave a task with someone”
For The kanji 任 the left side of (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, and (c) in bronze ware style, in green, was “a standing person.” The right side was a smithy table with a bulge in the middle and was used phonetically for /jin; nin/. The bulge signifies “burden; responsibility.” Together they meant “a person who bears responsibility or role,” or “one entrusting a burden to someone else.” In (d) in seal style the bulge became another line, bearing the importance of its meaning, and in kanji the top became a slanted short stroke. The kanji 任 means “to entrust; leave a task with someone.” <Composition of the kanji 任: イ and 壬>
The kun-yomi 任せる /makase’ru/ means “to entrust; leave; let something do,” and is in 任せっきり (“to leave everything up to someone else” /makasekkiri/) and 人任せ (“evading responsibility” /hitoma’kase/). The on-yomi /nin/ is in 任命 (“appointment; commission” /ninmee/) and 一任する (“to leave a matter entirely to someone’s care” /ichinin-suru/).
The kanji 妊 “pregnant”
For the kanji 妊, (a) in oracle bone style, (b) and (c) in bronze ware style and (d) in seal style all comprised 女 “a woman” and 工 with a bulge (壬).” They signified “a woman who has a bulged stomach” — “pregnant.” The kanji 妊 means “pregnant.” <Composition of the kanji 妊: 女 and 壬>
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /nin/ is in 妊娠 (“pregnancy” /ninshin/), 妊婦 (“pregnant woman” /ni’npu/), 避妊 (“contraception; birth control” /hinin/) and 不妊 (“infertility” /hunin/).
The shape 乍 appeared frequently in oracle bones to mean “to create; make” and was /saku/ phonetically, and yet, accounts of its origin vary — twigs bent to make a fence; a tool such as an adze chipping off pieces of wood to make craft; woven basket, among others. The history is shown on the right.
The kanji 作 “to make; create”
For the kanji 作 in oracle bone style and bronze ware style it was just 乍 “to make; create.” Soon,乍 came to be used in other kanji phonetically, and in order to keep the original meaning “to make” a standing person was added to signify “an act one does.” The kanji 作 meant “to make; create; do; begin.” <Composition of the kanji 作: イ and 乍＞
The kun-yomi 作る /tsuku’ru/ means “to make,” and is in 作り方 /tsukurikata/. /-Zuku/ is in 物作り (“making an object by hand; craftsmanship” /monozu’kuri/). The on-yomi /saku/ is in 作物 (“produce” /saku’motsu/) and 工作 (“construction; craft” /ko’osaku/). Another on-yomi /sa/ is in 動作 (“action; movement; gesture” /do’osa/), 作業 (“work” /sa’gyoo/) and 作動する (“to operate; run” /sadoo-suru/).
The kanji 昨 “past; last”
For the kanji 昨 the seal style writing comprised 日 “the sun; day” and 乍, which was used phonetically for /saku/ to mean “to pass quickly.” A day passing quickly meant “past; last.” The kanji 昨 means “past; last.” <Composition of the kanji 昨: 日 and 乍＞
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /saku/ is in 昨年 (“last year” /sakunen/), 一昨年 (“the year before last” /issakunen/), 昨日 (“yesterday” /saku’jitu; kinoo/) and 昨今 (“these days” /sak’konn/).
The kanji 酢 “vinegar”
We have looked at the kanji 酢 quite recetly in connection with the bushu 酉 “cask for fermented liquid.” The right side 乍 was used phonetically for /saku/ to mean “something past.” Rice wine that went bad was vinegar. The kanji 酢 means “vinegar.” For sample words, please refer to the earlier post. <Composition of the kanji 酢: 酉 and 乍＞
The kanji 詐 “to deceive; lie”
The writings in bronze ware style and seal style comprised 言 “word; language; to say” and 乍, which was used phonetically for /saku/ to mean “deceive.” Together they meant “to break oath.” The kanji 詐 means “to deceive; lie.” <Composition of the kanji 詐: 言 and 乍＞
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /sa/ is in 詐欺 (“fraud; swindle” /sa’gi/).
The kanji 搾 “to wring; squeeze; exploit”
There is no ancient writing for the kanji 搾. 搾 comprises 扌, a bushu tehen “an act that one does using a hand,” and 穴 “a hole” and 乍, which was used phonetically for /saku/ to mean “to force something into a small hole.” Together they meant “to wring; squeeze.” It is also used to mean “to extort.” The kanji 搾 means “to squeeze; exploit.” <Composition of the kanji 搾: 扌, 穴 and 乍＞
The kun-yomi 搾る /shibo’ru/ means /to squeeze/ and is in 乳搾り (“milking” /chichishi’bori/). The on-yomi /saku/ is in 搾取する (“to exploit” /sa’kushu-suru/).
The kanji 巨 “huge; giant; gigantic”
For the kanji 巨 (a) and (b) in bronze ware style was “a large carpenter’s rectangular ruler with a handle in the middle,” and (c) had “a person who was holding a ruler” added. There were two different writings in seal style — (d) had “an arrow (矢),” which was used to measure a short object, “a large ruler” (巨) and a wooden object (木), whereas (e) returned to the original shape of a large ruler only. The kanji 巨 means “huge; giant; gigantic.” <The stroke order of 巨 begins with the vertical line>
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /kyo/ is in 巨大な (“huge; gigantic; colossal” /kyodai-na/) and 巨人 (“giant” /kyojin/).
The kanji 拒 “to prevent; refuse; reject”
There is no ancient writing for the kanji 拒. The kanji 拒 comprises 扌, a bushu tehen “an act that one does using a hand,” and 巨, which was used phonetically for /kyo/ to mean “to prevent.” One account says that the shape of a large carpenter’s rule was similar to a side bar for preventing traffic. The kanji 拒 means “to prevent; refuse; reject.”
The kun-yomi /koba’mu/ means “to reject; prevent.” The on-yomi /kyo/ is in 拒絶 (“refusal; rejection” /kyozetu/) and 拒否 (“refusal; turning down” /kyo’hi/).
The kanji 距 “distance”
For the kanji 距 the bronze ware style writing had 足 “foot,” and a shape that was used phonetically for /kyo/. The short line in the middle was considered to be similar to a spur of a chicken, and that a chicken leaping a long distance signified “distance.” The kanji 距 means “distance.” <Composition of the kanji 距: あしへん and 巨＞
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /kyo/ is in 距離 (“distance” /kyo’ri/).
The kanji 規 “standard; criterion”
One last tool we look at in this post came from “a compass to draw a circle.” For the kanji 規 the left side of the seal style writing looked like that of the kanji 夫, but it did not share the same origin – it was “a compass to draw a circle,” possibly using two short arrows. “A tool that was used to draw a circle” gave the meaning “standard; criterion.” The right side was 見 “to look at.” The kanji 規 meant “standard.” <Composition of the kanji 規: 夫 with a short fourth stroke and 見＞
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ki/ is in 規準 (“standard; criterion; norm” /kijun/) and 規定 (“regulation” /kitee/), and /-gi/ is in 定規 (“ruler” /jo’ogi/).
Well, the article has ended up a little too long here. I had better end it here. We shall continue this topic in the next post. Thank you very much for your reading. – Noriko [December 9, 2017]