In this second post on kanji that originated from “carpenter’s tools” we are going to explore the kanji 丁打訂頂(丁), 予序預幻(予), 互, 緑録(彔) and 克.
The kanji 丁 “a square block; counter for a square section”
There are two different meanings associated with the ancient writings of 丁 – one is “an area; a square” and another “a nailhead” that was viewed from above or from the side. (In our blogs, oracle bone style is shown in brown; bronze ware style in green; and seal style in red.) A nail got pounded down flat in a straight angle, thus it meant something “right angle; flat,” and “a square block.” In Japan it is used as a counter for a square block as well as in an address for a section of an areas in a large city, such as 銀座四丁目 (“Fourth block of the Ginza area in Tokyo” /ginza-yonchoome/). The kanji 丁 means “a (square) block; section; counter for a section.”
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /choo/ is in 丁度 (“just; precisely; barely” /choodo/), and 三丁目 (“3-chome; third block” /sanchoome/). Another on-yomi /tee/ is in 丁寧な (“polite” /te’enee-na/) and 丁重に (“courteously; respectfully” /teechoo-ni/). The expression 一丁上がり /icchooagari/ means “Now finished!; the dish is ready!” We used to buy tofu at a tofu shop by small blocks, such as お豆腐二丁下さい (“May I have two pieces of tofu, please?” /otoohu ni’choo-kudasai/), but nowadays tofu comes in a plastic container in all sorts of sizes and 丁 is no longer needed.
The kanji 打 “to hit; pound on”
The seal style writing of the kanji 打 comprised “a hand; an act that one does using a hand” and 丁 “square; a right angle.” Together a hand over a nailhead meant “to hit; strike hard.” 打 was also used to make a word without adding the meaning “to hit.” The kanji 打 means “to hit; pound on.” <Composition of the kanji: 扌and 丁>
The kun-yomi 打つ /u’tsu/ means “to hit; strike hard,” and is in 打ち消す (“to negate; contradict” /uchikesu/) and 打ち上げる (“to launch; conclude” /uchiageru/). The on-yomi /da/ is in 打撃 (“batting; damage; blow” /dageki/), 打者 (“slugger; batter” /da’sha/), 打楽器 (“percussion instructment” /daga’kki/), 打算的な (“calculating” /dasanteki-na/) and 一網打尽 (“making a roundup arrest” /ichimoo-dajin/).
The kanji 訂 ‘to correct; revise; amend”
The seal style writing of the kanji 訂 comprised 言 “word; language; to say” and 丁 “straight; right angle,” which was used phonetically for /tee/. Together they meant “to make words right.” The kanji 訂 means “to correct; revise; amend.” <Composition of the kanji 訂: 言 and 丁>
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /tee/ is in 訂正 (“correction; revision” /teesee/) and 改訂版 (“revised edition” /kaiteeban/).
The kanji 頂 “summit; top”
The seal style writing comprised 丁 “a flat nailhead,” which was used phonetically for /choo/, and 頁, a bushu oogai “head,” from a man with formal headdress. Together they meant “a flat top area; summit; the top of one’s head.” In Japanese this kanji is also used for a humble verb for “to receive.” Comparing to another kanji 戴 for “to receive,” 頂 is used more casually. The kanji 頂 means “summit; top; to receive (humble style).” <Composition of the kanji 訂: 丁 and 頁>
The kun-yomi 頂く /itadaku/ means “to receive; hold above one’s head,” and is also in 山の頂 “mountain summit” /yama-no-itadaki/). The on-yomi /choo/ is in 頂上 (“top; summit” /choojo’o/), 有頂天 (“ecstatic; rapturous” /ucho’oten/) and 仏頂面をする (“to look sullen” /bucchoozura-o-suru/).
The component 予 appear in 予序預, and oddly in 幻 coming from the upside shape of 予.
The kanji 予 “in advance; preliminary; allowances”
For the kanji 予 there are two different writings (a) and (b) in seal style to account for the kyuji (c), in blue, and the shinji (d). (a) was a “weaving shuttle with a thread hanging down.” A weaving shuttle was pushed through the warps that were loosened on the loom. From “making room in advance of a shuttle’s passing” the kanji 予 meant “in advance; preliminary; allowances.” (b) had 象 “elephant,” which had been explained that the large size and slow movement of an elephant signified “large; relaxed; loose.” (c) reflected (b). In shinji, 象 was dropped. The kanji 予 means “in advance; preliminary.” The kanji for the original meaning, a weaving shuttle, is the non-Joyo kanji 杼 with a bushu kihen “wooden.” <Composition of the kanji 予: マ and 了>
The kun-yomi 予め /arakajime/ means “in advance.” The on-yomi /yo/ is in 予定 (“schedule; plan” /yotee/), 余裕 (“allowances; additional coverage” /yoyuu/) and 猶予 (“hesitation; postponement” /yu’uyo/).
The kanji 序 “order; beginning of an order”
For the kanji 序, the top left of the seal style writing was the eaves or an addition to a house. Under that 予 “extra room” was used phonetically for /jo/. The extended area next to the main house was used as a place or school where propriety was taught. From that the kanji 序 meant “order; beginning of an order.” It is sometimes used for the word 序でに “while I am at it (I do another thing); taking the opportunity,” perhaps from the sense of order.<Composition of the kanji 序: 广 and 予>
The kun-yomi 序でに “while (you) are at it” (not on the Joyo kanji list). The on-yomi /jo/ is 順序 (“order” /ju’njo/), 秩序 (“order; discipline” /chitsu’jo/), 序曲 (“prelude” /jo’kyoku/), 年功序列 (“seniority system” /nenkoojo’retsu/) and 序の口 (“lowest ranking” /jonokuchi/).
The kanji 預 “to deposit; temporary custody”
For the kanji 預 the left side of the seal style writing was 予 “roomy; extra,” which was used phonetically for /yo/. The right side 頁 was a man with a ceremonial hat or a “head.” How they came to mean “to deposit; leave something for a temporary custody” is not clear, perhaps it signified an act that one does for future purpose. The kanji 預 means “to leave for a temporary custody; deposit.” <Composition of the kanji 預: 予 and 頁>
The kun-yomi 預ける /azuke’ru/ means “to deposit; leave for temporary custody” and its intransitive counterpart 預かる /azuka’ru/ means “to keep; take care of.” The on-yomi /yo/ is in 預金 (“bank deposit; saving in a bank” /yokin/).
The kanji 幻 “illusion; magic”
The ancient writing for the kanji 幻 was the upside down image of 予, showing the thread coming out at the top. Pulling a shuttle in the wrong way caused confusion in weaving, signifying something that was not correct or real, thus “illusion.” Very clever! The kanji 幻 means “illusion; magic.”
The kun-yomi 幻 /maboroshi/ means “illusion.” The on-yomi /gen/ is in 幻想的な (“fantastic; visionary” /gensooteki-na/) and 幻覚 (“hallucination” /genkaku/).
The kanji 互 “each other; alternately”
For the kanji 互 the seal style writing was “a tool to make a rope by twisting threads alternately from two of more sides.” The kanji 互 means “each other; alternately.”
The kun-yomi 互い /tagai/ means “mutual; each other” and is in 互い違い (“alternate” /tagaichi’gai/). The on-yomi /go/ is in 交互に (“alternately” /ko’ogo-ni/), 相互の (“mutual” /so’ogo-no/), 互角の (“well-matched; equal” /gogaku-no/) and 互換性 (“compatibility” /gokansee/).
The component 彔 – The right side 彔 of the kyuji for the kanji 緑 and 録 had its own history as shown on the right. It was a twisting devise for wringing wet threads or drilling a piece of wood, creating spills around. It was phonetically /roku/.
10. The kanji 緑 “green”
For the kanji 緑 (a) in oracle bone style and (c) in the styles found in documents, in gray, and (d) in seal style had a skein of threads (糸). The right side was a twisting devise for wringing wet threads or drilling a piece of wood, creating spills around or sawdust. It was also used phonetically for /roku/ to mean “green.” A skein of threads that was green gave the meaning “green.” The kanji 緑 means “color of green.” <Composition of the kanji 緑: 糸, ヨ with a long stroke and 氺>
The kun-yomi 緑 /mi’dori/ means “green.” The on-yomi /ryoku/ is in 緑化運動 (“tree-planting drive” /ryokka-u’ndoo/) and 新緑 (“fresh green; new leaves in spring” /shinryoku/), 常緑樹 (“evergreen tree” /jooryoku’ju/) and 緑茶 (“green tea” /ryokucha/). Another on-yomi /roku/ is in 緑青 (“copper green rust; verdigris patina” /rokusho’o/).
The kanji 録 “to record”
For the kanji 録, in seal style 金 “metal” and 彔 “green” together meant greenish color of bronze ware, on which record of important events were cast, and was used phonetically for /roku/ “to record.” The kanji 録 means “records; to record.” <Composition of the kanji 録: 金, ヨ with a long stroke and 氺>
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /roku/ is in 記録 (“record” /kiroku/), 目録 (“catalogue; inventory” /mokuroku/), 実録 (“papers; authentic record” /jitsuroku/), 回顧録 (“memoirs” /kaiko’roku/), 議事録 (“minutes; proceeding of meeting” /giji’roku/) and 登録 (“registration” /tooroku/).
The kanji 克 “to overcome”
The kanji 克 had a stream of records from the ancient times. How we interpret them is another matter. One view is that (a) and (b) in oracle bone style (c) in bronze ware style was “a curved knife with a large handle at the top and that a handgrip on the side that was used to core out.” (d) in Old style showed that it had saw-dust. The writing was borrowed to mean “to overcome.” Another view is that the ancient writings was a person with a heavy helmet, sitting with his legs bent and enduring the weight. In this account the kanji shape 克 is explained as a person (兄) with a helmet. In my view whichever appeals to you for your study should be fine. The kanji 克 means “to overcome.” <Composition of the kanji 克: a short 十 and 兄>
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /koku/ is in 克服 (“to overcome” /kokuhuku-suru/), 克己心 (“self-control” /kokki’shin/), 克明な (“scrupulous; minute” /kokumee-na/) and 下克上 “social upheaval; junior dominating senior” /gekoku’joo/).
I expect that we shall have a couple or three more posts on kanji that originated from a tool. Thank you very much for your reading. – Noriko [December 16, 2017]