The kanji 尊 “to revere; respect”
For the kanji 尊 in oracle bone style, in brown, (a) was “a wine cask presented reverentially to a god with two hands.” It meant “to revere; respect.” In bronze ware style, in green, (b) had a ハ shape that signified “rising alcoholic spirit.” (c) in bronze ware style, and (d) in seal style, in red, had the same components as (a). In kanji the two hands at the bottom became the kanji 寸. The kanji 尊 means “to revere; respect.”
There are two kun-yomi for 尊 are interchangeable – 尊い /tooto’i/ and /tatto’i/ mean “revered,” and 尊ぶ /tooto’bu/ and /tatto’bu/ mean “to respect; honor; value.” The on-yomi /son/ is in 尊敬する (“to respect” /sonkee-suru/) and 自尊心 (“self-esteem” /jiso’nshin/). /-Zon/ is in 本尊 (“principal image” of a temple /ho’nzon/).
The kanji 遵 “to observe law or precedent; obey”
For the kanji 遵, the left side of the seal style writing was 辵, a precursor of the bushu shinnyoo “to move forward.” The right side was the same as (d) in 1.尊 “to respect; revere; value highly,” and was used phonetically for /jun/ to mean “to observe.” One conducting himself with a respect (of the precedent) gave the meaning “to follow; obey.” The kanji 遵 means “to observe law or precedent; obey.”
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /jun/ is in 遵守する (“to comply; observe” /ju’nshu-suru) and 遵法精神 (“law-abiding spirit” /junnpoo-se’eshin/) and 遵法闘争 (“work-to-rule strike” /junpooto’osoo/), often written as 順法 using a simpler kanji. The kanji 遵 is used as a legal word and we rarely come across it.
The kanji 猶 “to hesitate; take time; furthermore”
The origin of the kanji 猶 was also odd. The oracle bone style writing had “a wine cask,” which was used phonetically for /yuu/, and “a dog; animal.” The bronze ware style writing and the seal style writing had the same two components in more developed shapes. Some view that it was originally an animal that climbed a tree, such as a monkey. From a suspicious-natured monkey, it meant “to be suspicious; hesitate.” (This account sounds odd to me, but I do not have any better one here.) The kanji 猶 is used to mean “to hesitate; take time; furthermore.”
There is no kun-yomi, but 猶 /na’o/ is seen to mean “furthermore.” The on-yomi /yuu/ is in 猶予期間 (“grace period; cooking-off period” /yuuyo-ki’kan/.)
The kanji 爵 “peerage; titular rank”
The kanji 爵 has a large number of ancient writings in various shapes. In (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, (c), (d) and (e) in bronze ware style it was a three-legged wine pitcher for pouring warm rice wine that was used in a ceremony. A ruler giving a cup of wine to a subject was a part of a ceremony conferring a title. The kanji 爵 means “peerage; titular rank.”
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /shaku/ is in 爵位 (“title” /sha’kui/), such as 公爵 (“duke” /ko’oshaku/), 伯爵 (“count” /hakushaku/) and 男爵 (“baron” /da’nshaku/). These titles in Japan were short-lived between the post-Meiji restoration and after WWII.
The kanji 午 “noon”
For the kanji 午 in oracle bone style, (a) was “a skein of thread” whereas (b) was “a pestle,” which was used for “pounding grains in a mortar.” In (c) and (d) in bronze ware style and (f) in seal style it was also “a pestle.” The pounding motion of a pestle was a straight vertical motion. The shape appeared in other kanji to signify something in the middle. Later it was borrowed to mean “noon.” The kanji 午 means “noon.”
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /go/ is in 午前中 (“in the morning” /gozenchuu/), 正午 (“noon” /sho’ogo/) and 午後 (“afternoon” /go’go/).
The kanji 許 “to permit; allow; forgive; place”
For the kanji 許, in bronze ware style and seal style the left side was “word; language; to speak,” and “a pestle” 午 on the right side was used phonetically for /kyo/. The kanji 許 means “to permit; allow; forgive.”
The kun-yomi 許す /yuru’su/ means “to permit; allow; forgive.” /-Moto/ is not a Joyo-kanji reading, but it is used to mean “a place” in place of 元, as in 親許は確かだ (“is of good parenting” /oyamoto-wa ta’shika-da/), 手許にない (“do not have on hand” /temoto’-ni na’i/) and 国許に帰る (“to return home” /kunimoto-ni ka’eru/). The on-yomi /kyo/ is in 許可 (“permit” /kyo’ka/), 免許 (“license” /me’nkyo/), 許容範囲 (“the tolerance level” /kyoyooha’n-i/). 許嫁 is usually read in a Japanese word /iinazuke/ (“fiance”).
The kanji 御 “to control; manipulate; honorific affix”
For the kanji 御 in oracle bone style it had “a person who was kneeling down” in front of either “a pestle” (a) or “a skein of thread” (b). It meant “to handle or control something.” In bronze ware style (c) had the same two components, whereas (d) had “a crossroad” and “a footprint,” adding the meaning “going.” Together they meant “to steer a horse carriage to control where it was going.” In (e) in Old style it had two totally different components – “a horse” and “a hand”-, and they meant “to steer a horse by hand.” In seal style (f) had “a crossroad” (彳) on the left, “a pestle” (午) and “a footprint” (止) coalesced in the middle and “a kneeling person” (卩) on the right. A posture of kneeling down doing something was a humble posture, and it was used as an honorific prefix or suffix. The kanji 御 means “to control; manipulate; honorific affix.”
The kun-yomi /o/ is a prefix to a kun-yomi word and words used in a kitchen, and is in 御守り (“amulet” /omamori/) and many other Japanese words. Another kun-yomi /mi/ is in 御心 (“heart (of Lord)” /mikokoro/). The on-yomi /go/ is likely used as a prefix for an on-yomi word, and is in 御所 (“imperial palace” /go’sho/), 親御さん (“(someone’s) parents” /oyago-san/), 御殿 (“palace” /go’ten/), 御免ください (“Hello” at the door /gomenkudasa’i/). Another on-yomi /gyo/ is in 御者 (“a driver of a horse carriage” /gyo’sha/) and 制御 (“a control” /se’egyo/).
The kanji 卸 “to drive a horse cart; to operate; wholesale”
The kanji 卸 is the original shape of the kanji 御. The bronze ware style writing comprised “a pestle” and “a kneeling person.” They meant “to steer a horse.” In seal style “a footprint” (止) was added. Together they meant “stopping a horse to unload a crate from a horse or carriage.” Unloading a crate also meant “wholesale.” The kanji 卸 means “to drive a horse cart; to operate; run; wholesale.”
The kun-yomi /oro’su/ is in 棚卸し (“stock-taking; inventorying” /tanaoroshi/) and 卸売り (“wholesale; wholesaling” /oroshiuri/). There is no on-yomi in Joyo kanji.
The kanji 康 “peaceful and healthy”
For the kanji 康 in oracle bone style it was “an apparatus (with a pestle) to thresh grain, with hulls dropping down.” In bronze ware style two hands were added in the middle. In seal style it had “a pestle” in the middle, and “two hands” that were “threshing rice” in the middle. Threshing rice to provide food gave the meaning of “good livelihood and health.” The kanji 康 means “peaceful and healthy.”
There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /koo/ is in 健康 (“health” /kenkoo/) and 健康的な (“healthy” /kenkoo-na/) and 小康を保つ (“to have a brief respite” /shookoo-o tamo’tsu/).
The kanji 唐 “Tang dynasty; Chinese”
In (a) and (b) in oracle bone style and (c) in bronze ware style the top had “two hands holding a pestle to thresh grain,” and was used phonetically for /too/. The bottom was 口 “mouth.” In (d) in Old style 昜 was used phonetically for /too/. (e) in seal style reflected (c). The kanji 唐 is used for the name of the Chinese Tang dynasty (618-907). It was the time when Japan imported many aspects of Chinese culture by sending official envoys called 遣唐使 /kento’oshi/, including kan-on reading of kanji. In Japanese it was used to mean “Chinese.”
The kun-yomi /kara/ is in 唐揚げ (“deep fried seasoned food” /karaage/) and 唐草模様 (“arabesque design” /karakusamo’yoo/) – Arabic patterns came through China on the Silk Road-, and 唐門 (“large gate of a temple with a gable” /karamon/). The on-yomi /too/ is in 遣唐使 (“official cultural envoy to the Tang court” /kento’oshi/) and 唐辛子 (“red hot pepper” /tooga’rashi/).
The kanji 糖 “sugar”
The kanji 糖 in seal style (a) comprised 食 “food; to eat” and 昜, which was used phonetically for /too/ to mean “sugar; candy.” (b) comprised 米 “rice” and 唐, which was used phonetically for /too/ to mean “to stretch” in making candies out of sweet rice. Whichever the explanation is, the kanji 糖 meant “sugar.”
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /too/ is in 砂糖 (“sugar” /sato’o/), 糖分 (“sugar; carbohydrate” /to’obun/) and 糖尿病 (“diabetes” /toonyoobyoo/).
There are many more kanji that pertain to food preparation and a kitchen. In the next a couple of posts we shall be exploring kanji that related to measuring food. Thank you very much for your reading. – Noriko [September 16, 2017]