The Kanji 声南琴喜樹膨鼓-musical instrument

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As the last article of the group of kanji that originated from “a thing; stuff,” we are going to look at kanji that originated from musical instruments – 声南琴喜樹膨鼓.

  1. The kanji 声 “voice; fame; reputation; sound”

History of Kanji 声For the kanji 声 (a) in oracle bone style, in brown, was “a musical instrument with a hanging rope” and “an ear” below that. (b) and (c) in seal style, in red, had “a hand holding a stick to bang the hanging sound” board added. Together they meant “one listening to the sound of a hanging musical instrument that was banged by hand.” The kyuji 聲 in (d), in blue, contained all the components — “a banging instrument,” “a hand hitting with a tool” and “an ear to listen to.” But in the shinji 声only the top left was kept. Even though the origin was from an musical instrument and a person’s ear, it meant human “voice.” The kanji 声means “voice; fame; reputation; sound.”

The kun-yomi 声 /ko’e/ means “voice.” 鶴の一声 (“authoritative pronouncement; voice of authority” /tsu’ru-no hito’koe/). /-Goe/ is in 大声 (“loud voice” /oogo’e/). Another kun-yomi /kowa-/ is in 声音 (“tone of voice” /kowa’ne/). The on-yomi /see/ is in 無声音 (“voiceless sound” /muse’eon/), 音声 (“voice; sound” /o’nsee/), 銃声 (“sound of gunfire” /juusee/, 声援を送る (“to cheer” /seen-o okuru/) and 名声 (“fame” /meesee/). Another on-yomi /shoo/ is a go-on in 大音声 (”an ear-splitting voice” /daio’njoo/).

  1. The kanji 南 “south”

History of Kanji 南For the kanji 南 in oracle bone, bronze ware style, in green, and seal style  it was a musical instrument called /nan/, which was hung with ropes at the top. The shape was similar to a hanging bell. The writing was borrowed to mean “south.” Some scholars suggested that the sound nanwas similar to dan 暖 “warm,” and it may have something to do with this choice. The kanji 南means “south.”

The kun-yomi 南 /minami/ means “south” and is in 南側 (“south side” /minamigawa/). The on-yomi /nan/ is in 南北 (“the south and north” /na’nboku/), 南極 (“Antarctica: South Pole” /nankyoku/) and 中南米 (“Latin America; Central and South America” /chuuna’nbee/).

  1. The kanji 琴 “harp”

History of Kanji 琴The seal style writing of the kanji 琴 was “a harp,” with a bowed body and bridges for strings. The kanji 琴 means “harp.”

The kun-yomi /koto/ means “hard.” The on-yomi /kin/ is in 木琴(“marimba; xylopohone” /mokkin/) and 心の琴線に触れる(“to touch one’s heartstrings” /kokoro-no-kinsen-ni hureru/).

  1. The kanji 喜 “to rejoice; happy; be delighted”

History of Kanji 喜For the kanji 喜 the oracle bone style and bronze ware style writings had “a hand drum with a hanging device” at the top and 口 “a box of prayers and benedictions” at the bottom. They meant “pleasing a god with good drumming. The Old style writing, in purple, had a person who was singing or about to eat feast with his mouth wide open added but dropped in seal style. The kanji 喜 means “to rejoice; happy; be delighted.”

The kun-yomi 喜ぶ /yoroko’bu/ means “to rejoice; be delighted” and is in 大喜びする  (“to be overjoyed; be thrilled” /ooyo’rokobi-suru/). The on-yomi /ki/ is in 歓喜(“delight” /ka’nki/), 喜劇 (“comedy” /ki’gki/), 悲喜こもごも(“bittersweet; having mingled feelings of joy and sorrow” /hi’ki-komo’gomo/), 喜怒哀楽 (“feelings” /ki’do airaku/) and 一喜一憂 (“glad and sad by turns” /i’kki ichiyuu/).

  1. The kanji 樹 “tree; to plant a tree; establish”

History of Kanji 樹For the kanji 樹 the bronze ware style writing, (a), comprised 壴 “a drum” and 寸 “hand” used phonetically for /chu; ju/ to mean “a tree; arbor.” (c) in seal style reflected (a), but in (b) 木 “tree” was added. “A hand holding a tree straight up” gave the meaning “to plant a tree” and “to establish” in a general sense. The kanji 樹 means “tree; to plant a tree; establish.”

The kun-yomi /ki/ means “tree.” The on-yomi /ju/ is in 樹立する (“to establish” /juristsu-suru/), 果樹園 (“orchard” /kaju’en/) and 広葉樹 (“broad leaf tree” /kooyo’oju/).

  1. The kanji 膨 “to swell out; expand; get big”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 膨. The kanji comprised 月 “a part of one’s body” on the left side and 壴 “a hanging drum” and 彡 “something pretty” together used phonetically for booto mean “sound of a hand drum reverberating” or something spreading like the sound. A part of the body that tended to expand was a stomach. The meaning of a part of body dropped it meant “to expand.” The kanji 膨means “to swell out; expand; get big.”

The kun-yomi 膨らむ /hukuramu/ means “to swell out; expand,” and is in 着膨れる(“to be thickly clad” /kibukure’ru/). The on-yomi /boo/ is in 膨張する(to expand; swell” /boochoo-suru/) and 膨大な (“enormous; colossal” /boodai-na/).

  1. The kanji 鼓 “a hand drum; to hit a drum; drum up”

History of Kanji 鼓For the kanji 鼓(a) and (b) in oracle bone style and (c) and (d) in bronze ware style and (e) in seal style comprised “a drum with a hanging rope at the top” and “a hand hitting the drum with a drumstick.” Together they meant “a hand drum.” A hand hitting a drum gave the meaning “rhythemic; to stir up.” The kanji 鼓 means “a hand drum; to hit a drum; drum up.”

The kun-yomi /tuzumi/ (つづみ) means “hand drum” and is in 小鼓 (“hand-held drum” /kotuzumi/). The on-yomi /ko/ is in 太鼓 (“drum” /taiko/), 鼓舞する(“to encourage; inspire” /ko’bu-suru/), 鼓動 (“to beat; pulsate” /kodoo-suru/) and 鼓笛隊 (“fife and drum band” /kotekitai/).

The next group of kanji we explore is a tied bag or things in a bundle. Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko [March 31, 2018]

The Kanji 典冊柵・偏編遍・論輪倫 – “bound writing tablets”

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In this post we are going to look at nine kanji in three subgroups –典冊柵 (with 冊)・偏編遍 (with 扁)・論輪倫 (with 侖). They share the origin of writing tablets bound together that made a book and could be rolled up for storage.

  1. The kanji 典 “code; law; model”

History of Kanji 典For the kanji 典 in (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, the top was writing tablets of the same length linked together with leather straps. (a) had two hands holding it very carefully while (b) had a hand turning the book to read. What the two lines at the bottom in (a) signified is not clear, but they might have indicated a table. (c) and (d) in bronze ware style, in green, had a low table (几). The important bound writing tablets were a model or code from precedents that one looked up, and the writing meant “code; law; model.” In (e) in Old style, in purple, “bamboo” pertaining to “writing” was added at the top, but it was dropped in (f) in seal style, in red. In kanji the top was coalesced to the top of a low table. The kanji 典 means “code, law; model.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /ten/ is in 辞典 (“dictionary” /jiten/), 典雅な (“refined; elegant” /te’nga-na/), 出典 (“source of reference” /shutten/), 古典 (“classics” /koten/) and

典型的な (“stereotyped; typical” /tenkeeteki-na/). /-Den/ is in 香典 (“offering in Buddhism funeral” /kooden/; 典 substitutes for a non-Joyo kanji).

  1. The kanji 冊 “bound book; a counter for books”

History of Kanji 冊The history of the kanji 冊 has two different interpretations. One is that it was writing tablets linked together as a book. (d) in Old style, in purple, had “bamboo” at the top but lost it in (e) in seal style. This development is very similar to the kanji 典, without a table to place on. It meant “a counter of bound books.” Another view takes notice on the different length of the vertical lines in the ancient writings. Shirakawa says that a writing tablet had a set length and that wooden stakes of different length linked in a circle signified “a corral to keep live stocks to be used for sacrificial offering.” It was /saku/ phonetically. Because of the similar appearance between stakes pounded to the ground to keep live animals and writing tablets linked together, the writing mistakenly came to be used to mean “a bound book.” The kyuji 册, (f) in blue, was simplified to 冊. The kanji 冊 is used as a counter for books.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /satsu/ is in 三冊 (“three books” /sa’nsatsu/), 冊数 (“number of volume” /satsusu’u/), 別冊 (“separate volume; extra issue” /bessatsu/) and 小冊子 (“booklet” /shoosa’sshi/). Another on-yomi /-zaku/ is in 短冊 (“strip of paper” /tanzaku/).

  1. The kanji 柵 “fence; wooden stockade”

History of Kanji 柵The seal style writing of the kanji 柵 comprised 木 “tree; wood” and 冊 “linked wooden stakes” used phonetically for /saku/. Because the writing 冊 changed to mean “a bound book,” the new writing was created for the original meaning of “wooden uneven length stakes to keep animals.” The kanji 柵 means “fence; wooden stockade.”  <Composition of the kanji 柵: 木 and 冊>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 柵 /saku/ means “fence” and is in 鉄柵 (“iron fence” /tessaku/)

扁: In the next three kanji 偏編遍, what is common is 扁. One view of the origin is “a screen; mesh” in a part of a single swing door (扁); another view is that it was a bound book.

  1. The kanji 偏 “to become lopsided”

History of Kanji 偏The seal style writing of the kanji 偏  comprised イ “an act one does” and 扁 “a screen door” used phonetically for /hen/ to mean “one side (of the two),” together signifying “to lean to one side.” The kanji 偏 means “to get lopsided; one side; bias.” <Composition of the kanji 偏: イ, 戸 and 冊 without the horizontal line going through >

The kun-yomi 偏る /katayo’ru/ means “to become lopsided; become biased.” The on-yomi /hen/ is in 偏と旁 (left side component and right side component in kanji), 偏食 (“deviated food habit; unbalanced diet” /henshoku/) and 偏向 (“inclination; leaning; bias” /henkoo/).

  1. The kanji 編 “to compile; edit; knit; braid”

History of Kanji 編The seal style writing of the kanji 編 comprised 糸 “a skein of thread” and 扁 for /hen/ phonetically. 扁 comprised 戸 “door; family” and 冊 “bamboo or wooden tablets tied together for record keeping,” signifying “family registry record; to compile documents; edit.” Together they also meant “to knit (yarn); braid.” The kanji 編 means “to compile; edit; knit.” <Composition of the kanji 編: 糸 and 扁>

The kun-yomi /a’mu/ means “to knit” and is in 編み物 (“knitting” /ami’mono/), 三つ編み (“braid” /mitsuami/), 編み出す (“to invent; forge; contrive” /amida’su/). The on-yomi /hen/ is in 編集 (“editing” /henshuu/), 再編成 (“reorganization; reshuffle” /saihe’nsee/) and 長編小説 (“long novel” /choohen sho’osetsu/).

  1. The kanji 遍 “to go around; universal; time”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 遍. The kanji 遍 comprises 辶, a bushu shinnyoo “to move forward” and 扁 used phonetically for /hen/, together signifying “to go around,” and further “everywhere; widely; extensively; far and wide.” “Making a round in a circuit” also gave the meaning “once; time.” The kanji 遍 means “to go around; far and wide; time.” <Composition of the kanji 遍: 扁 and 辶>

The kun-yomi 遍く/amane’ku/ means “everyplace; all over; extensively.” The on-yomi /hen/ is 普遍的 (worldwide; universal; general” /huhenteki/). /-Pen/ is in 一遍 (“once; one time” /ippen/) and 一遍に (“in one sitting; all at one” /ippe’n-ni/). /-Ben/ is in 何遍も (“several times; repeatedly” /na’nben-mo/).

History of Kanji 侖The third shape 侖 has the history shown on the right. (a), (b) and (c) had writing tablets that were linked with straps as a book rolled up for storage under a roof. From “bound writing tablets rolled up” 侖 signified “things in good order in a circular shape.”

  1. The kanji 論 “logic; argument”

History of Kanji 論For the kanji 論 the bronze ware style writing was things in good order bound together in a circular shape (侖). The seal style writing comprised “word; language; to say” was added. Words that were arranged in good order meant “logic; argument.” The kanji 論 means “logic; argument.”  <Composition of the kanji 論: 言 and 侖>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ron/ is in 論じる (“to discuss” /ronjiru/), 議論 (“argument” /gi’ron/), 論争 (“dispute; controversy” /ronsoo/), 論文 (“article; dissertation; thesis” /ronbun/), 異論を唱える (“to object to” /iron-o tonae’ru/) and 世論 (“public opinion” /yo’ron/).

  1. The kanji 輪 “wheel; circle; loop”

History of Kanji 輪The seal style writing of the kanji 輪 comprised 車 “a wheel” and 侖 used phonetically for /rin/ to mean “many arrows arranged in a circular shape.” Together they meant “wheel; circle; loop.” <Composition of the kanji 輪: 車 and 侖>

The kun-yomi 輪 /wa/ means “a ring,” and is in 輪ゴム (“elastic band” /wagomu/) and 内輪話 (“inside information; private talk” /uchiwaba’nashi/). The on-yomi /rin/ is in 車輪 (“wheel” /sharin/), 三輪車 (“tricycle” /sanri’nsha/), 両輪 (“two wheels; both wheels” /ryoorin/) and 輪郭 (“contour; outline; profile” /rinkaku/).

  1. The kanji 倫 “ethics; principle”

History of Kanji 倫The seal style writing of the kanji 倫 had a “person; an act that one does” and 侖 used phoentically for /rin/ to mean “things ordered in good order.” Together “what a person should observe” means “ethics; principle.” The kanji 倫 means “ethics; principle.” <Composition of the kanji 倫: イ and 侖>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /rin/ is in 倫理 (“morality; ethics” /ri’nri/) and 人倫 (“human relations; morality” /jinrin/).

Even though the three shapes 冊, 扁 and 侖 have different meanings, they share the underlying meaning “writing tablets or stakes linked together in an orderly manner and it can be rolled up.” I believe that we still need to have another post on the topics of objects next week. Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko [March 24, 2018]

The Kanji 主注柱住筆律書粛津- “lamp” and “brush”

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As one of the last categories of the origins of kanji we have been looking at things  around the living area. In this post we are going to look at the kanji that originated from “a burning lamp” (主) – 主注柱住 and “a writing brush” (聿) – 筆律書粛津.

  1. The kanji 主 “master; main; primary”

History of Kanji 主For the kanji 主 the oracle bone style writing, in brown, was “a flame” on top of 木 “wood,” signifying “a torch” (used outside). The bronze ware writing, in green, was “a flame” alone. In seal style, in red, it became “a burning oil wick on a long-stem oil lamp holder” inside a house. A fire was important and symbolized “the master of a house.” The kanji 主 means “master; main; primary.” [the composition of the kanji 主: 丶 and 王]

There are three different kun-yomi: 主 /a’ruji/ means “master; proprietor”; a second kun-yomi 主な /o’mo-na/ means “major; primary”; and a third kun-yomi /nu’shi/ is in 家主 (“landlord; owner of a house” /ya’nushi/), 飼い主 (“owner of a pet” /ka’inushi/) and 雇用主 (“employer” /koyo’onushu/). The on-yomi /shu/ is in 主人公 (“main character” /shuji’nkoo/), 主義 (“principle; ideology” /shu’gi/), 主観的な (“subjective” /shukanteki-na/), 主体的な (“independent; active” /shutaiteki-na/) and 主客転倒 (“mistaking the means for the end; putting the cart before the horse” /shu’kakutentoo). Another kun-yomi /zu/ comes from a go-on reading and is in 丸坊主 (“shaven head’ bald” /marubo’ozu/).

  1. The kanji 注 “to pour; pay (attention)”

History of Kanji 注For the kanji 注 the seal style writing comprised “water; liquid” and 主 used phonetically for /chuu/ to mean “staying in one place.” Together they meant “a manner in which one poured lamp oil very carefully.” The kanji 注 meant “to pour; pay (attention).” [the composition of the kanji 注: 氵and 主]

The kun-yomi 注ぐ /sosogu/ means “to pour.” The on-yomi /chuu/ is in 注意する “careful; to watch out; to give warning” /chu’ui/), 注目 (“attention; recognition” /chuumoku/), 注文 (“order” /chuumon/) and 外注(“outsoursing” /gaichuu/).

  1. The kanji 柱 “pillar; column; support”

History of Kanji 柱The seal style of the kanji 柱 comprised 木 “tree; wood” and 主 used phonetically for /chuu/ to mean “something that does not move; main.” Together “wood that stayed in one place supporting the rest of a house” was “column.” The kanji 柱 means “pillar; column; support.” [the composition of the kanji 柱: 木 and 主]

The kun-yomi 柱 /hashira’/ means “column.” /-Bashira/ is in 大黒柱 (“the central pillar of a house; breadwinner” /daikokuba’shira/). The on-yomi /chuu/ is in 電柱 (“utility pole” /denchuu/).

  1. The kanji 住 “to live; reside”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 住. The kanji 住 comprised イ, a bushu ninben “person; an act that one does,” and 主 used phonetically for /juu/ to mean “to stay in one place” like a lamp would. A place in which one stayed for a long time meant “to live; reside.” The kanji 住 means “to live; reside.” [the composition of the kanji 住: イand 主]

The kun-yomi 住む /su-mu/ means “to live,” and is in 住み込み (“a live-in” /sumikomi/). Another word to mean “to reside” is 住まう /suma’u/ and is in 住まい (“house; residence” /su’mai/). The on-yomi /juu/ is in 住所 (“address” /ju’usho/), 住民 (“resident” /juumin/), 住居 (“housing” /ju’ukyo/), 住宅地 (“residential area” /juuta’kuchi/) and 定住 (“long-term residency” /teejuu/).

The next five kanji contain 聿 “a writing brush” -筆律書粛津

  1. The kanji 筆 “a writing brush”

History of Kanji 筆For the kanji 筆 (a), (b) and (c) had “a writing brush held by a hand.” It meant “a writing brush.” In (d) “bamboo” (竹) was added at the top to mean the brush itself, differentiating from act of writing. A writing brush usually had a bamboo handle. The kanji 筆 means “a writing brush.” [the composition of the kanji 筆: 竹かんむり and 聿]

The kun-yomi /hude/ means “writing brush” and is in 筆使い (“one’s handling of a brush; touch; technique” /udezu’kai/), 絵筆 (“paintbrush; an artist’s brush” /e’hude/), 筆まめな (“facile with the pen” /hudemame-na/), 筆が立つ (“good writer” /hude-ga-ta’tsu/). The on-yomi /hitsu/ means 筆記用具 (“writing materials” /hikkiyo‘ogu/) and 万年筆 (“fountain pen” /manne’nhitsu/). /-Pitsu/ is in 鉛筆 (“pencil” /enpitsu/), 達筆な (“skillful penmanship” /tappitsu-na/) and 執筆者 (‘the author; the writer” /shippitsu’sha)

  1. The kanji 律 “law; rules that one follows”

History of Kanji 律For the kanji 律 the oracle bone writing comprised “a crossroad” signifying “a way to go or to conduct oneself” and “a hand holding a writing brush straight up.” Together they meant “to conduct oneself in an upright manner as prescribed in a rule.” The kanji 律 means “law; rules that one follows.” [the composition of the kanji 律: 彳 and聿]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ritsu/ is in法律 (“law” /hooritsu/), 律する (“to measure; govern” /rissuru/), 戒律 (“religious percept” /kairitsu/) 一律に (“uniformly; across the board” /ichiritsu-ni/), 不文律 (“unwritten rule” /hubu’nritsu/) and 規律正しい (“disciplined; well-ordered” /kiritsutada’shii/). Another on-yomi /richi/ is a go-on reading and is in 律儀な (“upright; conscientious” /ri’chigi-na/).

  1. The kanji 書 “to write; writing; documents”

History of Kanji 書For the kanji 書in the bronze ware style and seal style writings the top was “a hand holding a writing brush upright” (聿). The bottom (者) was used phonetically for /sha/ to mean “to copy.” The kanji 書 means “to write; writing; scripture.” [the composition of the kanji 書: 聿 except the middle vertical line does not go through and 日]

The kun-yomi 書く /ka-ku/ means “to write” and is in 書留 (“registered mail” /kakitome/).  -/Ga/ is in 下書き (“draft” /shitagaki/), 横書き (“horizontal writing” /yokogaki/), 上書き (“overwriting” /uwagaki/) and 肩書き (“title of one’s position” /katagaki/). The on-yomi /sho/ is in 書類 (“documents” /shorui/) and 文書で (“in writing; on paper” /bu’nsho-de/), 聖書 (“the Bible” /se’esho/), 書記 (“secretary” /shoki/) and 白書 (“White paper –comprehensive report by the government” /ha’kusho/).

  1. The kanji 粛 “solemn; quiet; prudent”

History of Kanji 粛For the kanji 粛 (a) in oracle bone style had “a writing brush” and “a pair of compasses for drawing a circle.” Together they meant “drawing a picture on bronze ware.” In (b) and (c) in bronze ware style the brush was not present. (d) in Old style, in purple, comprised “a writing brush,” “a heart” and something else (possibly 勺 for phonetic use of /shaku/). Adding a picture to a bronze ware was serious work. From that the kanji 粛 meant “solemn; gravely harsh.” The kyuji, in blue, (f), reflected (e) in seal style. In kanji the bottom was replaced by 米, but had no relevance to the meaning “rice.” The kanji 粛 means “solemn; quiet; prudent.” [the composition of the kanji 粛: hard to describe]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /shuku/ is in 静粛に (“silently; in an orderly manner”  /seeshuku-ni/), 自粛 (“voluntary restraint” /jishuku/) and 粛清 (“purge; cleanup” /shukusee/).

  1. The kanji 津 “shoal; landing”

History of Kanji 津For the kanji 津 the bronze ware style and Old style comprised “water” “a bird” and “a boat.” A bird alighting on a boat in water signified “a boat landing area.” In seal style the right side became a writing brush dripping ink or liquid droplets on the lower left side signifying an area with little water, and it was used phonetically for /shin/. The kanji 津 means “shoal; landing.” [the composition of the kanji 津: 氵and聿]

The kun-yomi /tsu/ is in 津波 (“tidal wave; tsunami” /tsunami/). The on-yomi /shin/ is in 興味津々 (“of absorbing interest; having a keen interest” /kyo’omi shinshin/).

In the next post we are going to look at kanji including those that originated from musical instruments.  Thank you very much for your reading.  -Noriko [March 17, 2018]

The Kanji 凡帆汎同洞胴銅 – Co­ntainer (6)

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History of Kanji - A vessel; tube-shapeThis is the second post on kanji that originated from a container. The word “container” in our exploration means an object in a broad sense that holds something, including ones for the purpose of transporting. The ancient writing shapes shown on the right were interpreted in four different meanings in this blog, the two of which (a) and (b) were discussed in the last post, and we are going to explore (c) and (d) in this post:

(a) “a boat” to transport on the water in the kanji 舟船舷舶 and as (b) “a shallow bowl; shallow vessel; tray” to transport by hand in the kanji 般搬盤服. In the next post we explore examples used as (c) “a sail” to transport things on the water in the kanji 凡帆汎 and as (d) “a tube-like shape; cylindrical” in the kanji 同洞胴銅.

(c) as “a sail” to transport things on the water 凡

  1. The kanji 凡 “all; common; ordinary; spreading”

History of Kanji 凡In the interpretation of 凡 (c) above, the two vertical lines (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, and (c) and (d) in bronze ware style, in green were “masts,” and the short horizontal lines were the outline of “a sail.” A sail caught wind. A sail is large, and covering a large area meant “all; nearly all; approximation.” In (e) in seal style, in red, the short line in the middle signified that inside was not hollow or empty. “All” means nothing special, thus “ordinary.” The kanji 凡 means “all; common; ordinary; spreading.”  [Composition of the kanji 凡: 几and ヽ]

The kun-yomi 凡そ (“approximately” /oyoso/) and 大凡 (“approximately; more or less” /ooyoso/). The on-yomi /bon/ is in 平凡 (“ordinary; common” /heebon/), 凡人 (“ordinary person” /bonjin/). Another on-yomi /han/ is in 凡例 (“legend: /hanree/).

  1. The kanji 帆 “sail”

There is no ancient writing. For the original meaning of “sail of a boat,” a new kanji 帆 was created by adding a piece of cloth 巾 on the left. The kanji 帆 means “sail.” [Composition of the kanji 帆: 巾 and 凡]

The kun-yomi /ho/ means “sail” and is in 帆立貝 (“scallop” from the shape /hotate’gai/). The on-yomi /pan/ is in 出帆する (“to sail from” /shuppan-suru/).

  1. The kanji 汎 “all; covering all; far and wide; pan-”

History of Kanji 汎The seal style writing had “water” and 凡, which was used phonetically for /han/ to mean “sail; large piece of cloth; to spread.” Together they meant “to float on the water.” Water spreading would cause a flood in a wide area. The kanji 汎 means “all; covering all; far and wide; pan-.” [Composition of the kanji 汎: 氵 and 凡]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /han/ is 汎用する (“to use frequently” /han-yoo-suru/), 汎用性のある (“versatile; widely useable” /han-yoosee-no-a’ru/) and (汎アメリカ主義 (“Pan-Americanism” /ha’n amerika-shu’gi/).

(d) 同 “a tube-like shape; cylindrical”

  1. The kanji 同 “same; identical”

History of Kanji 同The origin is not clear. One view is that the top of 1 and 2 in oracle bone style and 3 and 4 in bronze ware style was same as 凡, and in some instances as 舟. The bottom was 口 “mouth; to speak.” A tube-like shape signified that the opening from the front through the back was “the same.” The sides of the top shape were lengthened in (e) in seal style, which reflected in the kanji 同. The kanji 同 means “same; identical.” [Composition of the kanji 同: 冂, 一 and 口]

The kun-yomi 同じ /ona-ji/ or /onna-ji/ means “the same.” The on-yomi /doo/ is in 同一の “same; identical” /dooitsu-no/], 共同 (“cooporation; collaboration” /kyoodoo/), 同感する (“to agree with” /dookan-suru/), 同情する (“to sympathize” /doojoo-suru/) and 異同 (“discrepancy; distinction” /idoo/).

  1. The kanji 筒 “tube-like shape; cylindrical”

History of Kanji 筒The seal style writing had 竹 “bamboo” and 同, which was used phonetically for /doo; too/ to mean “tube-like shape,” a shape having straight parallel sides. Together they meant tube-like shape such as a bamboo. The kanji 筒 means “tube-like shape; cylindrical.” [Composition of the kanji  筒: 竹かんむり and 同]

The kun-yomi 筒 /tsutsu/ means “cylindrical object; tube,” and is in 筒抜け (“leaking out” /tsutsunuke/) and 茶筒 (“tea canister” /chazutu/). The on-yomi /too/ is in 封筒 (“envelop” /huutoo/) and 水筒 (“canteen; water bottle” /suitoo/).

  1. The kanji 洞 “cave; to penetrate”

History of Kanji 洞The seal style writing comprised “water” and 同, which was used phonetically to mean “a shape that was hollow.” Together they mean an area where water gushed through and made a shape that went through, such as cave. The kanji 洞 means “cave; to penetrate.” [Composition of the kanji 洞: 氵 and 同]

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /doo/ is in 洞窟 (“cave” /dookutsu/) and 空洞化 (“to become hollow; hollow out” /kuudooka-suru/).

  1. The kanji 胴 “torso; trunk”

There is no ancient writing. The kanji 胴 comprised 月, a bushu nikuzuki “a part of the body,” and 同, which was used phonetically for /doo/ to mean a tube-like shape. A part of a body that had a tube-like shape was “torso; trunk.” The kanji 胴 means “torso; trunk.” [Composition of the kanji  胴: 月 and 同]

There is no kun-yomi in the Joyo kanji. The on-yomi 胴 /do’o/ means “torso; trunk; waist,” and is in 胴体 (“trunk of the body; torso” /do’otai/).

  1. The kanji 銅 “copper”

History of Kanji 銅The bronze ware style and seal style writings comprised 金 “metal” and 同, which was used phonetically for /do’o/ to mean “red.” Together “red metal” (赤金) meant “copper.” The kanji 銅 means “copper.” [Composition of the kanji 銅: 金 and 同]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /do’o/ means “copper” and is in 青銅器 (“bronze artifacts” /seedo’oki/), 銅像 (“bronze statue” /doozoo/), 銅山 (“copper mine” /do’ozan/) and 赤銅色 (“brown; reddish brown” /shakudooiro/).

In the next post we move to other objects around a house. Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko [March 10, 2018]

The Kanji 舟船舷舶般搬盤服 – Container (5)

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History of Kanji - A vessel; tube-shapeIn this and next posts we explore kanji whose shapes appear totally unrelated and yet if we look at their ancient writings they did share the same shape, or at least closely related. The shapes shown on the right side were taken from the various kanji. They meant “a vessel; a boat; bowl; cylindrical shape.” I find it very interesting to know that the English word “vessel” also means (1) a ship or a large boat, (2) a hollow container especially one used to hold liquid, such as bowl or cask and (3) by extension, a duct or canal holding or conveying blood or other fluid.

In this post we are going to look at kanji that came from these shapes as (a) “a boat” to transport on the water in the kanji 舟船舷舶 and as (b) “a shallow bowl; shallow vessel; tray” to transport by hand in the kanji 般搬盤服. In the next post we explore examples used as (c) “a sail” to transport things on the water in the kanji 凡帆汎 and as (d) “a tube-like shape; cylindrical” in the kanji 同洞胴銅. Let us begin.

(a) as “a boat” to transport on the water

  1. The kanji 舟 “boat”

History of Kanji 舟For the kanji 舟 in (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, and (c) and (d) in bronze ware style, in green, it was the shape of “a boat.” A simple boat such as a canoe was made by hollowing out a log. A boat could also be made with panels of wooden board. (e) in seal style, in red, became the kanji 舟. The kanji 舟 means “boat.”

The kun-yomi /hu’ne/ means “boat.” /-Bune/ is in 小舟 (“small boat” /kobune/), 丸木舟 (“dugout canoe” /marukibu’ne/) and 渡し舟 (“ferry” /watashibu’ne/). The on-yomi /shuu/ is rarely used other than in a name.

  1. The kanji 船 “ship; vessel”

History of Kanji 船For the kanji 船the bronze ware style and seal style writings had “a boat” on the left side. The right side 㕣 was used phonetically for /en/ to mean “along.” A vessel that travelled along the flow of water meant “ship.” The kanji 船 means “ship.”  [Composition of the kanji 船: 舟 and 㕣]

The kun-yomi /hu’ne/ means “ship; vessel.” /Huna-/ is in 船旅 (“voyage; a sea trip” /hunatabi/), 船酔い (“seasickness” /hunayoi/) and 船乗り (“sailor” /huna’nori/). The on-yomi /sen/ is in 乗船する (“to go aboard; embark” /joosen-suru/), 貨物船 (“cargo boat; freight” /kamotsusen/), 客船 (“passenger ship” /kyakusen/), 宇宙船 (“spacecraft” /uchuusen/), 連絡船 (“ferry boat” /renrakusen/) and 船頭 (“boatman” /sendo’o/).

  1. The kanji 舷 “side of a ship; the gunwale”

History of Kanji 舷The Qin-Han era seal sample, in blue, comprised 舟 “boat” and 玄 “thin things like threads” used phonetically for /gen/. Together they meant “the sides of a boat.” The kanji 舷 means “side of a boat; the gunwale; the railing of a boad,” a very specialized kanji in my view.  [Composition of the kanji 舷: 舟 and 玄]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /gen/ is in 右舷 (“starboard” /ugen/) and 左舷 (“port side” /sagen/).

  1. The kanji 舶 “a large ship”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 舶. The kanji 舶 comprises 舟 “boat” and 白 used phoneticallly for /haku/ to mean “large” (some views that it is from 伯).  Together they meant “a large ship that sailed in ocean.” The kanji 舶 means “a large ship.” [Composition of the kanji 舶: 舟 and 白]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /haku/ is in 船舶 (“ship; marine vessel” /se’npaku/) and 舶来品 (“imported goods; foreign article” /hakuraihin/).

(b) as “a shallow vessel; a tray” to transport by hand

  1. The kanji 般 “general”

History of Kanji 般The left side of (a) and (b) in oracle bone style and (c) in bronze ware style and (d) in Old style, in purple, and (e) in seal style was “a tray.” The right side was “a hand holding a weapon or tool,” which eventually becomes 殳, a bushu hokozukuri/rumata. Together they originally meant “a hand carrying somethings in a shallow bowl,” but the shape was borrowed to mean “general.” A new kanji was created for the original meaning of “to carry” by adding another hand, the kanji 搬, our next kanji. The kanji 般 means “general.” [Composition of the kanji 般: 舟 and 殳]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /han/ is in 諸般の (“all sorts of; various”/sho’han-no/) and 般若経 (“the Wisdom Sutras; Prajnaparamita Sutra” /hannyakyoo/).  /-Pan/ is in 一般 (“general” /ippan/), 全般的な (“comprehensive; all-embracing” /zenpanteki-na/), 一般化する (“to become universal; generalize” /ippanka-suru/), 一般人 (“people at large; private citizen” /ippa’njin/) and 一般教養課程 (“general culture course” /ippankyo’oyoo/).

  1. The kanji 搬 “to carry; transport”

There is no ancient writing. The kanji 搬 comprises 扌, a bushu tehen, “an act one does using a hand,” and 般 used phonetically for /han/. This kanji was created to assume one of the original meaning that the kanji 般had. The kanji 搬 means “to carry; transport.” [Composition of the kanji 搬: 扌, 舟 and 殳]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /han/ is in 搬入する (“to carry something in” /hannyuu-suru/). /-Pan/ is in 運搬する (“to transport; carry” /unpan-suru/).

  1. The kanji 盤 “a tray; a raised flat bowl”

History of Kanji 盤For the kanji 盤 (a) in oracle bone style had “a hand holding a tool” (殳) and “a tray” (舟) (together 般, originally meant “to carry”) and “a shallow bowl” (皿). In bronze ware style, (b), (c) and (d) had the same three components. Together they meant “a shallow flat bowl one carries something” or “a tray.” (e) in Large seal style, (f) in Old style and (g) in seal style all had 般 at the top. The kanji 盤 means “a tray; a raised flat bowl.” [Composition of the kanji 盤: 舟, 殳and 皿]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ban/ is in 大盤振る舞い (“lavish feast” /ooban-bu’rumai/), 円盤 (“disk” /enban/), 基盤 (“basis; foundation” /kiban/),文字盤 (“clock dial” /mojiban/) and 地盤 (“ground; subsoil” /jiban/). A Japanese abacus also uses this kanji as in 算盤 /soroban/.

The next two kanji 朕 and 服, what we have been looking at as the shape 舟 in kanji appear as 月.

  1. The kanji 朕­ “I (imperial We)”

History of Kanji 朕For the kanji 朕 (a) and (b) in oracle bone style and (c) and (d) in bronze ware style all comprised “a shallow bowl or a tray” (月 or 舟) for transporting things and “two hands holding up an (important) object.” Together they meant “to carry something in a tray and present reverentially with both hands.” It was used by an emperor as a first-person pronoun “imperial We.” In seal style, (e), what was presented became the shape 火 (with no relevance to “fire”). In kanji 朕 the elements on the right side coalesced and became 关. The kanji 朕 means “I (imperial We).” [Composition of the kanji 朕: 月and 关]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 朕 /chin/  means “I (imperial We).”

  1. The kanji 服 “to follow; obey; clothes; brief rest”

History of Kanji 服For the kanji 服 (a) in oracle bone style and (b) and (c) in bronze ware style, the left side had “a flat bowl or vessel.” In the middle and the right side had “a person being pushed by a hand and kneeling down.” Together the knelt-down posture signified “to subject to; yield to.” In Old style, (d), “a hand” disappeared, but in (e) in seal style “a hand” (又) returned. The kanji 服 meant “to follow; obey; obedient.” Clothes are molded to a person’s body, yielding to the body, so it is also used for “clothes.” It also means “to take medicine” or “to have a short rest.” [Composition of the kanji 服: no segment available]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 服 /huku/ means “clothes,” and is in 服装 (“clothes” /hukusoo/), 制服 (“uniform” /seehuku/), 服従する (“to obey” /hukujuu-suru/), 征服 (“conquest” /seehuku/), 服役 (“penal servitude” /hukueki/) and 不服 (“dissatisfaction; disapproval” /huhuku/).  /-Puku/ is in 一服する (“to have a brief rest; have a smoke” /ippuku-suru/).

J0877受HistoryThe kanji 受 and 授–It has been a long time since we looked at the kanji 受and 授. The kanji 受 also had “a vessel that contained a valuable thing” between “a hand form above” and “a hand from below.” Together they signified “a hand giving out something valuable and another hand receiving it,” and originally meant both “to receive” and “to bestow.” Later giving and receiving became differentiated and the kanji 受was used for an action for a receiver. The kanji 受 meant “to receive.”

There is one more post that we need to continue on the kanji that originated from a container next week.  Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko [March 3, 2018]

The Kanji 豆豊艶壱富福副幅 – “Container” (3)

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In this post we continue to explore kanji that originated from a container. The kanji are豆豊艶壱 from 豆 “a tall stemmed container” and 富福副幅 from 畐 “a narrow-necked container with a lid which is filled with wealth at the bottom.” ­­

  1. The kanji 豆 “bean; miniature”

History of Kanji 豆For the kanji 豆 in the oracle bone style writing, in brown, the two bronze ware style writings, in green, and the seal style writing, in red, it was “a tall raised or stemmed bowl,” and was /too/ phonetically. Later it was borrowed to mean “bean.” [Composition of the kanji 豆: 一, a side-long 口, a truncated ソ and 一]

The kun-yomi /mame’/ means “bean; miniature,” and is in 豆電球 (“miniature light bulb” /mamede’nkyuu/) and 枝豆 (“boiled salted green beans in pods” /edamame/). The on-yomi /too/ is in 豆腐 (“bean curd” /toohu/) and 納豆 (“fermented soy beans; natto” /natto’o/). Another on-yomi /zu/ is in 大豆(“soy bean” /daizu/). In Japanese it is also used for 小豆 (“azuki bean” for sweets /azuki/).

History of Kanji 頭The kanji “head” has 豆 on the left side too. We have discussed this kanji in the post on November 15, 2014 in connection with the bushu oogai 頁 “head.” 豆 was used phonetically for /too/ and /zu/.

  1. The kanji 豊 “abundance; affluent; plentiful; rich”

History of Kanji 豊For the kanji 豊 on (a) in oracle bone style, (b) in bronze ware style and (c) and (d) in seal style one view is that it was “a tall stemmed bowl with millet stalks,” which signified “abundance of harvest.” It meant “abundance.” Another view is that the top was strands of jewels, rather than mille stalks, and it signified “wealth.” In either view the bottom was a tall stemmed bowl that was used phonetically for /too/. The kyuji 豐, (e) in blue, reflected (d), but in shinji, the top became simplified to 曲. The kanji 豊 means “abundance; affluent; plentiful; rich.”  [Composition of the kanji 豊: 曲 and 豆]

The kun-yomi 豊か /yu’taka/ means “rich; abundance; plentiful” and is in  心豊かな (“fertile mind; spiritually rich” /kokoroyu’taka-na/). The on-yomi /hoo/ is in 豊富な (“abundant; rich; plentiful” /hoohu-na/), 豊作 (“good harvest” /hoosaku/), 豊年 (“year of good harvest” /hoonen/) and 豊満な (“plump” /hooman-na/).

  1. The kanji 艶 “glossy; women’s charm; attractiveness; enchanting”

History of Kanji 艶The seal style writing of the kanji 艶, (a) comprised 豊 “plentiful; abundant” and the right side that signified “a lid (去) over a vessel (皿).” Plentiful food or offerings in a vessel was “desirable,” which further meant “enchanting; attractive” in appearance. (b) 豔 reflected (a). (c) was an informal writing of (b), in which 色 suggested “attractiveness.” The top of (c) still reflected (a). In the shinji 艷 the top became 曲. The kanji 艶 means “glossy; (women’s) enchanting.” [Composition of the kanji 艶: 豊 and 色]

The kun-yomi /tsuya/ means “luster” and is in 艶のある (“shiny; glossy” /tsuya-no-a’ru/) and 色艶のいい (“of good glossy color” /iro’tsuya-no i’i/). Another kun-yomi艶やかな (“glamorous; charming” /ade’yakana/ is not in the Joyo kanji reading. The on-yomi /en/ is 妖艶な (“bewitching” /yooen-na/) and 艶聞 (“rumor of love-affair” /enbun/).

  1. The kanji 壱 “one”

History of Kanji 壱For the kanji 壱 in bronze ware style and seal style it was “a pot or crock that had a secure lid.” A tightly closed pot was filled with fermented air. The bottom of 4 in kyuji, 壹, was 豆, reflecting the original meaning. It was borrowed to mean “one” and is used to avoid misreading the kanji 一 in an important receipt, draft or check. One can easily imagine that it is very easy to add another line or two to 一 to tamper the original number. The kanji 二 and 三 also had a formal writing — the kanji 貮弐 for 二 and 参 for 三. The kanji 壱 means “one; single.”  [Composition of the kanji 壱: 士, 冖 and ヒ]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ichi/ is in 金壱万円 (“10,000 yen” in formal receipt and check  /ki’n ichiman-en/).

  1. The kanji 富 “wealth”

History of Kanji 富For the kanji 富 in bronze ware style the top was “a house” and the inside was “a narrow neck container with a lid whose bottom was swelled in the middle.” A house that had a container that was filled with treasure or things signified “wealth; wealthy; fortune.” Inside of the seal style the container shape became 畐 — a lid, an opening and a full container itself. The kanji 富 means “wealth; fortune.” [Composition of the kanji 富 : 宀, 一, 口 and 田]

The kun-yomi /to’mi/ is “wealth.” The on-yomi /hu/ is in 富豪 (“person of great wealth; millionaire” /hugoo/), 富国 (“national wealth” /hukoku/) and 富裕層 (“the well-off; wealthy class” /huyu’usoo/). /Huu/ is in 富貴 (“wealth and honor” /hu’uki/). /-Pu/ is in 貧富の差 (“disparity of wealth” /hi’npu-no-sa/.)

  1. The kanji 福 “good luck; bliss; blessing; fortune”

History of Kanji 福For the kanji 福 in oracle bone style (a) had “a wine cask filled with a lid with wine that was raised by two hands” and “an altar table with offering” on the top left, while 2 did not have hands. By placing a cask full of stuff on an altar table, one prayed for blessing from a god. It meant “bliss; good luck; happiness.” In (c) and (d) in bronze ware style an altar table with offering began to take the shape 示. In (e) in seal style a full container with a lid became 畐, which is reflected in the kyuji 福, (f). In shinji 福, the left side became ネ, a bushu shimesuhen “religious matter.” The kanji 福 means “good luck; bliss; blessing; fortune.”   [Composition of the kanji 福: ネ and 畐]

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /huku/ means “good luck; blessing,” and is in 幸福な (“happy; blissful” /koohuku-n/), 祝福 (“blessing” /shukuhuku/), 福々しい (“plump and happy looking” /hukubukushi’i/), 福祉 (“welfare; well-being” /huku’shi/), ルカによる福音書 (“the Gospel according to Luke” /ru’kaniyoru hukuinsho/) and 冥福を祈る (“to pray its soul may rest in peace” /meehuku-o ino’ru/), as in ご冥福をお祈りいたします “May his soul rest in peace.”

  1. The kanji 副 “to accompany; assisting; copy”

History of Kanji 副For the kanji 副 in Large seal style, in purple, it had two “full narrow-neck containers” and “a knife” in between. They signified that a knife dividing wealth in two parts, a main part and an accompanying part. The meaning of the writing focused on the accompanying part, and it meant “to accompany; assisting; copy.” The seal style writing comprised 畐 and 刀 “knife” which was replaced by 刂, a bushu rittoo “knife on the right side” in the shinji 副. The kanji 副 means “to accompany; assisting; copy.” [Composition of the kanji 副: 畐 and 刂]

There is no kun-yomi in the Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /huku/ is in 副社長 (“vice president” /hukusha’choo/), 副本 (“duplicate” /hukuhon/), 正副二通 (“original and duplicate” /se’ehuku ni’tsuu/), 副産物 (“by product” /hukusa’nbutsu/), 副作用 (“side effect; adverse reaction” /hukusa’yoo/) and 副詞 (“adverb” /hukushi/).

  1. The kanji 幅 “width; counter of scroll”

History of Kanji 幅The seal style writing of the kanji 幅 comprised 巾 “cloth; lap robe” and 畐, which was used phonetically for /huku/ to mean something spreading sideways like a barrel. For a lap robe, fabric was used as it was woven with its width intact. It is also used as a counter for a scroll. The kanji 幅 means “width; counter of scroll.”  [Composition of the kanji 幅: 巾 and 畐]

The kun-yomi 幅 /haba/ means “width” and is in 横幅 (“width; wingspan” /yokohaba/). The on-yomi /-puku/ is in 振幅 (“amplitude” /shinpuku/) and 一幅 (“a scroll” /ippuku/), as in the expression 一幅の絵になる (“picturesque; pretty as a hanging scroll” /ippuku’no e’-ni naru/).

We shall continue with “container” in the next post. Since I am travelling next weekend I am afraid that it will have to be two weeks later. Thank you very much for your understanding. — Noriko [January 27, 2018]

The Kanji 吉結詰缶陶去却脚法–Container (2)

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This is the second post on kanji that originated from a container with a lid.  We are going to look at three types of containers with a lid–吉缶去. The kanji we explore are 吉結詰, 缶陶 and 去却脚法.

  1. The kanji 吉 “good luck; joy; auspicious”

History of Kanji 吉Various interpretations on the origin of the kanji 吉 are found in references, including (1) “a heap of food for celebratory feast,” – thus “joyous”; (2) “a warrior’s weapon” placed the blade side down in a ceremony and “a prayer box to confine evils” – “benediction” and (3) and “a container that is full inside which was securely plugged with a double lid,” and being full was “good.” When we look at the ancient writing all of those interpretations may make sense — (a) in oracle bone style, in brown, could be a heap of food for a feast; The top of (b) and (c) in bronze ware style, in green, and (d) in seal style, in red, appear to correspond with 士 “warrior; man” from a warrior’s axe, particularly (c) in which the thick blade at the bottom was thicker; and perhaps (e) could be viewed as (3), a container with a secure double plug at the top. Which account makes sense to us best?  It does not matter to me but in this blog I just pick one “a container with a tight lid” to move on. The kanji 吉 means “good luck; joy; auspicious.” [Composition of the kanji 吉: 士 and 口]

There is no kun-yomi in the Joyo-kanji. The on-yomi /kichi/ is in 吉日 (“lucky day” /kichijitsu; kitsujitsu/), 大吉 (“great good luck” in omikuji, an oracle on a strip of paper at a temple and shrine /daikichi/), and /kip-/ is in 吉報 (“good news” /kippoo/). Another on-yomi /kitsu/ is in 不吉な (“ominous” /hukitsu/-na).

  1. The kanji 結 “to tie; end; congregate into one”

History of Kanji 結The seal style writing of the kanji 結 had 糸, a bushu itohen “a skein of threads.” The right side 吉 was used phonetically for /kitsu; ketsu/ to mean “to be tightly contained in a jar.” The kanji 結 means “to tie; end; congregate into one.” [Composition of the kanji 結: 糸, 士 and 口]

The kun-yomi /musubu/ means “to tie a knot; conclude.” Another kun-yomi結う /yuu/ is in 髪を結う or 髪を結わえる (“to dress up one’s hair” /kami’-o yuu; kami’-o yuwae’ru/) and is in 結納 (“betrothal present; engagement gifts” /yuinoo/). The on-yomi /ketsu/ is in 結論 (“conclusion” /ketsuron/), 結果 (“result; outcome” /kekka/), 凍結する (“to freeze up” /tooketsu-suru/) and in the phrase 一致団結 (“solidarity” /i’tchi danketsu/).

  1. The kanji 詰 “to pack; full; rebuke; blame; squeeze; stand by”

History of Kanji 詰The seal style writing of the kanji 詰 comprised 言, a bushu gonben “word; language; to speak” and 吉 used phonetically for /kitsu/ to mean “containment.” Together pressing someone with accusing words meant “to blame; rebuke; criticize.” In Japanese it is also used to mean “to pack; cram; full” and “to stand by” from a room where on-duty gurds stays. The kanji 詰 means “to pack; full; rebuke; blame; squeeze; stand by.”[Composition of the kanji 詰: 言, 士 and 口]

The kun-yomi /tsume’ru/ means “to pack; stand by” and is in 詰め物 (“packed things; packing” /tsumemono/), 詰所 (“guard station; crew room” /tsume’sho/) and 詰まる (“to clog up; conjest” /tsuma’ru/). The on-yomi /kitsu/ is in 詰問する (“to rebuke; cross-examine /kitsumon-suru/).

  1. The kanji 缶 “can; tin”

History of Kanji 缶For the kanji 缶 in (a), (b) and (d) it was “a teraccotta container with a secure double lid to hold water and wine.” In (c) had the addition of 金 “metal” suggested a metal or bronze ware container that appeared later. In (f) 罐, in kyuji in blue, 雚 was added for /kan/ phonetically. From the writing (c) with a “metal” component, in Japanese it meant “metal container; can.” The kanji 缶 means “can; tin.” [Composition of the kanji 缶: 午 and 凵]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /kan/ is 缶 (“tin container; can” /ka’n/), 缶詰 (“canned food” /kanzu’me/) and 缶入りコーヒー (“canned coffee” /kan-iri-ko’ohii/) and アルミ缶 (“aluminum can” /arumikan/).

  1. The kanji 陶 “ceramic; to educate”

History of Kanji 陶For the kanji 陶 in the two bronze ware style writings the left side was “a hill-like mound of dirt” placed vertically. The right side had double images of “a person bending his back, kneading clay.” Together they meant people making pottery near an ascending kiln. 3 in seal style comprised a bushu kozatohen “hill” and 缶 “a clay container” wrapped in 勹  that signified “ceramics.” Together they meant “making ceramic in a kiln.” It also meant “to educate” from “kneading.” The knaji 陶 means “ceramic; to educate.” [Composition of the kanji 陶: 阝, 勹and 缶]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /too/ is in 陶器 (“pottery; earthenware” /to’oki/), 薫陶を受ける(“under someone’s tutelege; be taught by” /kuntoo-o uke’ru/) and 陶酔する (“to be fascinated; be intoxinated” /toosui-suru/).

  1. The kanji 去 “to leave; remove; past”

History of Kanji 去For the kanji 去 the oracle bone style and bronze ware style writings had “a person” above “an area; box” 口. Together “a person’s legs crossing over an area” signified “leaving and going far away.” The kanji 去 meant “to leave; remove.” In seal style the bottom became 凵 “receptacle”. In kanji 大 “a person” became 土 and the bottom ム. The kanji 去 means “to leave; remove; past.” [Composition of the kanji 去: 土 and ム]

The kun-yomi /saru/ means “to leave,” and is in 立ち去る (“to leave; go away” /tachisa’ru/). The on-yomi /kyo/ is in 去年 (“last year” /kyo’nen/) and 除去する (“to remove” /jo’kyo-suru/).

  1. The kanji 却 “to withdraw; retreat; on the contrary”

History of Kanji 却The seal style writing of the kanji 却 comprised 去 “to leave” and 卩 “a person kneeling down” signifying “receding.”  Together they meant “to make a retreat; withdraw.” It is also used to mean “on the contrary; all the more” in a phrase 却って. The kanji 却 means “to withdraw; retreat; on the contrary.” [Composition of the kanji 却: 土 ,  ム and 卩]

The kun-yomi /ka’ette/ means “on the contrary; all the more.” The on-yomi /kyaku/ is in 返却する (“to return (something)” /henkyaku-suru/), 退却する (“to retreat” /taikyaku-suru/), 売却する (“to sell; sell off” /baikyaku-suru/). /kyak-/ is in 却下する (“to dismiss; reject” /kyak’ka-suru/).

  1. The kanji 脚 “leg; foot”

History of Kanji 脚The seal style writing of the kanji 脚 comprised 月, a bushu nikuzuki  “a part of one’s body” and 却 “to retreat” used phonetically for /kyaku/. From the posture of legs knelt down one one backing down, it signified “leg; foot.” The kanji 脚 means “leg; foot.” [Composition of the kanji 脚: 月, 土 , ム and 卩]

The kun-yomi /ashi’/ means “leg; foot,” and is in 椅子の脚 (“chair leg” /isu-no-ashi/). The on-yomi /kyaku/ is in 三脚 (“tripod (for camera)” /sankyaku/), 脚色する (“to dramatize” /kyakushoku-suru/) and 脚本 (“play script; scenario” /kyakuhon/). Another on-yomi, which is a go-on /kya/ is in 脚立 (“stepladder” /kyatasu/) and 行脚 (“pilgrimage; travel around on foot” /a’ngya/).

  1. The kanji 法 “law; legal; court of law; method”

History of Kanji 法The kanji 法had a history of complex writings. One view of (a) and (b) is that the left side had 去 “to remove” and “water” and that the right side was “an imaginary animal that was believed to be used for divine judgment.” Together they meant “fair judgment; justice.” From that it meant “law.” In seal style in (c) 去 became more prominent, whereas in 4 an imaginary animal for justice was totally dropped. 灋 in 5 in Correct style is the kanji that reflected 3. The current kanji 法 reflects 4. The kanji 法 means “law; legal; court of law; method.” [Composition of the kanji 法: 氵, 土 and ム]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /hoo/ is in 法 (“law” /hoo/), 法律 (“law” /hooritsu/), 方法 (“method” /hoohoo/), 司法 (“judiciary” /shiho’o) and 違法行為 (“illegal act” /ihooko-oii/).  /-Poo/ is in文法 (“grammar” /bunpoo/) and 立法 (“legislation; law making” /rippoo/) and 民法 (“Civil law” /mi’npoo/) and 憲法 (“constitutional law” /ke’npoo/). Another on-yomi /hat-/ is in ご法度 (“prohibition” /gohatto/).

Together with the last post, we have picked up five shapes 合今吉缶 and 去 that originated from a container with a lid. It is quite surprising. In fact there are more to be looked at. I expect that we may have a couple of more posts to cover the remaining kanji. Thank you very much for your reading.  -Noriko [January 20, 2018]

The Kanji 方放倣訪芳坊房防妨肪旁傍-Agricultural tool (3)

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As the last post on kanji that originated from an agricultural implement we explore 方 this week. 方 is used phonetically either as /hoo/, as in the kanji 方放倣訪芳, or /boo/, as in the kanji 坊房防妨肪旁傍.

  1. The kanji 方 “direction; option; a square; method”

History of Kanji 方For the kanji 方 in (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, (c) and (d) in bronze ware style, in green, and (e) in seal style, in red, it was “a plough with a long handle” in which the handle pointing to directions, right and left, the pole at the top and the bottom with tines. From that it signified “four or all directions.” A direction is an “option.” Four directions make “a square.” The kanji 方 means “way; direction; option; a square; method.”

The kun-yomi /kata/ means “way,” as in やり方 (“the way to do” /yarikata/) and in a person in honorific style, as in 出席なさる方 (“a person who attends” /shusseki-nasa’ru-kata/). The on-yomi /hoo/ is in 方向 (“direction” /hookoo/), 方法 (“method; way to do” /hoohoo/), 四方 (“all directions; surrounding” /shiho’o/), 方々 (“everywhere” /ho’oboo/) and 方形 (“rectangular shape” /hookee/), 地方 (“country; rural area; local” /chiho’o/) and 一方で (“on the other hand” /ippo’o-de/).

  1. The kanji 放 “to release; free; emit”

History of Kanji 放For the kanji 放 the bronze ware style writing comprised 方 “all directions” used phonetically for /hoo/ and 攴 “a hand moving a stick,” which eventually became 攵, a bushu bokunyoo/bokuzukuri “to cause” in kanji. Together they meant “a hand letting a thing disperse to various directions; to release.” The kanji 放 means “to release; free; emit; cast.” [Composition of the kanji 放: 方 and 攵]

The kun-yomi /hana’su/ means “to release; let go,” and is in /hana’tsu/ “to emit; let out,” as in 光を放つ (“to give off light; flash” /hikari’o hanatsu/). /-Bana-su/ is in 手放す (“to part with; relinquish; sell” /tebana’su/) and 野放しにする (“to let run loose” /noba’nashi-suru/). The on-yomi /hoo/ is in 放送 (“broadcast” /hoosoo/), 放牧 (“grazing” /hooboku/), 釈放する (“to discharge; release” /shakuhoo/) and 追放 (“deportation; exile” /tuihoo/).

  1. The kanji 倣 “to follow; take after; emulate”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 倣. The kanji 倣 comprised イ, a bushu ninben “an act that one does,” and 放 used phonetically for /hoo/ to mean “to imitate,” together signifying “to take after.” The kanji 倣 means “to follow; take after; emulate.” [Composition of the kanji 倣: イ, 方 and 攵]

The kun-yomi 倣う /nara’u/ means “to follow; emulate; copy.” The on-yomi /hoo/ is in 模倣する (“to imitate; copy” /mohoo-suru/).

    4. The kanji 訪 “to visit; travel to”

History of Kanji 訪For the kanji 訪 the seal style writing comprised 言 “word; language; to say” and 方 “direction” used phonetically for /hoo/, together signifying “asking how to get to a place” when one visited someone. The kanji 訪 means “to visit; travel to.” [Composition of the kanji 訪: 言 and 方]

The kun-yomi 訪れる /otozure’ru/ means “to visit; come.” The on-yomi /hoo/ is in 訪問 (“visit” /hoomoo/) and 来訪する (“to be visited by” /raihoo-suru/).

  1. The kanji 芳 “fragrant; good”

History of Kanji 芳For the kanji 芳 the seal style writing comprised 艸 “plants” and 方 “to emit; cast” used phonetically for /hoo/. A fragrant plant spreads its aroma in all directions. It is also applied on person having good reputation. The kanji 芳 means “fragrant; good.” [Composition of the kanji 芳: 艹and方 ]

The kun-yomi 芳しい  /kanbashi’i/ means “fragrant.” The on-yomi /hoo/ is in 芳香 (“aroma; sweet smell” /hookoo/) and 芳名録 (“visitor’s book list” /hoome’eroku).

The next kanji 坊房防妨肪旁傍 are all pronounced as /boo/.

  1. The kanji 坊 “tyke; youngster”

History of Kanji 坊The seal style writing of the kanji 坊 comprised 土 “gound; soil” and 方 “a square area” used phonetically for /boo/. Together they originally meant “a block or a section of an area or a house” that was on the ground. The kanji 坊 means “section; living quarters in a temple.” It is also used as a suffix (often affectionately) to mean “tyke; youngster.”  [Composition of the kanji 坊: 土へんand 方]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /bo’o/ is in 赤ん坊 (“baby” /akanboo/), 朝寝坊 (“late riser” /asane’boo/), 忘れん坊 (“forgetful person” /wasurenboo/), 坊主 (“Buddhist priest” /bo’ozu/) and 坊主頭 (“shaven head; close-cropped hair” /boozua’tama/).

  1. The kanji 房 “room; quarters; tassel”

History of Kanji 房The seal style writing of the kanji 房 comprised 戸 “a single door” and 方 “a square” used phonetically for /boo/. Together they meant “a small quarter that was located on the side of a house.” From that it meant “living quarters; room.” A tassel hangs loosely on the side from the main body, and it meant “a tassel.” The kanji 房 means “room; quarters; tassel; something hanging.” [Composition of the kanji 房: 戸 and 方]

The kun-yomi /husa/ is used as a counter for grapes, as in 一房, and /-busa/ is in 乳房 (“breast” /chibusa/). The on-yomi /boo/ is in 冷房 (“air-conditioner” /reeboo/), 女房 (“wife” /nyo’oboo/) and 文房具 (“stationery; writing materials” /bunbo’ogu/).

  1. The kanji 防 “to prevent; defend”

History of Kanji 防In seal style the left writing of the kanji 防 comprised a bushu kozatohen “mountains; dirt wall” and 方 “four directions” used phonetically for /boo/. The second writing had 土 added to emphasize “dirt.” Together they signified “a high dirt wall that was built to prevent an enemy from coming in.” The kanji 防 means “to prevent; defend.” [Composition of the kanji 防: 阝 and 方]

The kun-yomi 防ぐ /huse’gu/ means “to prevent.” The on-yomi /boo/ is in 予防 (“prevention” /yoboo/), 防衛 (“defence” /booee/) and 堤防 (“dike; embankment” /teeboo/).

  1. The kanji 妨 “to obstruct; hamper”

History of Kanji 妨The seal style writing of the kanji 妨 comprised 女 “woman; female” and 方 used phonetically for /boo/ to mean “to prevent,” perhaps related to 防. Together preventing to come close to a woman meant “to obstruct.” The kanji 妨 means “to obstruct; hamper.” [Composition of the kanji 妨: 女へん and 方]

The kun-yomi 妨げる /samatage’ru/ means “to obstruct,” and is in 妨げとなる (“to become an obstacle” /samatage-to-na’ru/). The on-yomi /boo/ is in 妨害する (“to hinder; obstruct” /boogai-suru/).

  1. The kanji 肪 “fat”

History of Kanji 肪The seal style writing of the kanji 肪 comprised 月 “a part of a body,” which become a bushu nikuzuki, and 方used phonetically for /boo/ to mean “to spread out.” The part of one’s body that spreads out meant “fat; corpulent.” The kanji 肪 means “fat.” [Composition of the kanji 肪: 月 and 方]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /boo/ is in 脂肪 (“fat” /shiboo/), 脂肪分 (“fat content” /shibo’obun/) and 牛脂 (“beef fat” /gyuushi/).

  1. The kanji 旁 “right side component of kanji”

History of Kanji 旁The kanji 旁 is used for the word 旁 /tsukuri/ “the right side of kanji that usually carries a phonetic feature,” in contrast to 扁 /hen/ “the left side of kanji that usually carries a semantic feature.” The kanji 旁 is not a frequently kanji at all. (It does not come in among the 2200 kanji by frequency in Tokuhiro (2014).) Nonetheless for us kanji learners it may pop up sometimes, so we include it here.

The shape at the top of (a) in oracle bone style and (c) in bronze ware style appeared in the ancient writings of other kanji (such as 凡 and 同 among other kanji), and is generally viewed as “a board”  A board signifies “a square with four sides. (b) had a bar in which two ends were marked. It meant “side.” The kanji 旁 meant “side; on the side.”

  1. The kanji 傍 “side; to stand by”

History of Kanji 傍The seal style writing of the kanji 傍 comprised “an act that one does” and 旁 “on the side,” used phonetically for /boo/. Together they signified “a person standing by the side” (for a reason.) The kanji 傍 means “side; to stand by.” [Composition of the kanji 傍: イand 旁]

The kun-yomi 傍 /katawara/ means “side.” The on-yomi /boo/ means 傍観する (“to look on; stand by” /bookan-suru/) and 傍聴席 (“seat for the public; pubic gallery” /boocho’oseki/).

In the next post, we shall move onto a group of kanji that originated from a container or something that holds stuff. Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko [January 6, 2018]

The Kanji 力協脅脇加賀架勃励劣-agricultural tool (2)

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The second agricultural implement we look at is what became the kanji 力. I have been using the word “plough (plow)” for 力 in the past, because it had teeth or pegs at the end. It is more likely that this was a hand tool, rather than a machine. Should we call it a harrow? I do not know the answer. In this post we stick to the word plough for the time being. The kanji that contain 力 that we are going to explore here are: 力協脅脇加賀架勃励劣.

  1. The kanji 力 “power; strength”

History of Kanji 力For the kanji 力, there are two different views. One view, by Setsumon, is that the bottom suggested that it was a hand, and that the curve at the top in (c) in bronze ware style, in green, and (d) in seal style, in red, was “muscles in the arm,” and that flexing muscles meant “strength; power.” This view has been the traditional view. Another view in Shirakawa’s Shinjito is that the bottom was “a plough; a digging fork” in the field. In working in the field one had to apply much muscular strength. In this blog we take the second view. The kanji 力 means “power; strength.”  (For the stroke order, you write the angled stroke first.)

The kun-yomi 力 /chikara’/ means “might; power; strength,” and is in 力仕事 (“heavy labor” /chikarashi’goto/). /-Jikara/ is in 馬鹿力を出す (“to give incredible physical strength” /bakaji’kara-o da’su/). The on-yomi /riki/ is in 力量 (“ability; capacity” /rikiryoo/), 馬力 (“horsepower; energy” /bariki/). Another on-yomi /ryoku/ is in 体力 (“physical strength” /ta’iryoku/) and 重力 (“gravity” /ju’uryoku/).

  1. The kanji 協 “to cooperate; give help to others”

History of Kanji 協For the kanji 協, the Old style writing, in gray, comprised 口 “mouth” and 十 “to bundle up to one.” The seal style writing had “three ploughs” together, which was used phonetically for /kyoo/. Together they meant many people work together in a field, giving help to others. The kanji 協 means “to cooperate; give help to others.” <Composition of the kanji 協: a narrow 十 and three力>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi kyoo is in 協力する (“to cooperate; collaborate” /kyooryoku-suru/), 生協 (“co-op” /se’ekyoo/) and 協会 (“association; society” /kyookai/).

  1. The kanji 脅 “to threaten; menace; coerce”

History of Kanji 脅The kanji 脅 and the next kanji 脇 shared the same seal style writing — “three ploughs” and 月 “a part of one’s body”– and yet they have different meanings. For the kanji 脅, the top was used phonetically for /kyoo/ to mean “power,” and the bottom 月 was “a part of one’s body.” Together “powers over one’s body” meant “to threaten; menace; coerce.” <Composition of the kanji: Three 力 and 月>

The kun-yomi 脅す /odosu/ means “to threaten,” and is in 脅し取る (“to blackmail; extort” /odoshito’ru/). The on-yomi /kyoo/ is in 脅迫する (“to intimidate; threaten” /kyoohaku-suru/) and 脅威となる (“to become the menace” /kyo’oi-to-naru/).

  1. The kanji 脇 “side of one’s body; flank; supporting role”

History of Kanji 脇The seal style writing of the kanji 脇 was the same as 脅. In the kanji 脇, “three ploughs lining up” signified “ribs.” Together with 月, a bushu nikuzuki “flesh,” they meant “side (of one’s body); flank.” It also means “supporting role.” The kanji 脇 means “side of one’s body; flank; supporting role.” <Composition of the kanji: 月 and three 力>

The kun-yomi 脇 /waki/ means “one’s side,” and is in 脇役 (“supporting role” /wakiyaku/) and 脇腹が痛い (“to have a pain in the side” /wakibara-ga ita’i/). There is no on-yomi.

  1. The kanji 加 “to add”

History of Kanji 加For the kanji 加 the two bronze ware style writings comprised “a plough; a digging fork” that was placed sideways and “a mouth.” When doing heavy labor in the field adding voice was encouraging in exerting effort. It meant “to add.” The katakana カ and the hiragana か came from the kanji 加. The kanji 加 means “to add.” <Composition of the kanji 加: 力 and 口>

The kun-yomi 加える /kuwaeru/ means “to add,” and 加わる /kuwawaru/ means “to join.” The on-yomi /ka/ is in 追加 (“addition; supplement” /tsuika/), 増加 (“increase” /zooka/), 加味する (“to take something into account” /ka’mi-suru/). 加減 (“addition and subtraction” /kagen/) is also used to mean “one’s condition” in the expression お加減はいかかですか (“How do you feel?” /oka’gen-wa ika’ga-desu-ka?/) in inquiring someone who has been sick.

  1. The kanji 賀 “to celebrate; auspicious”

History of Kanji 賀For the kanji 賀 the bronze ware style writing comprised “a cowrie; valuable,” and “a plough” and “a mouth,” which was phonetically used for /ka/ to mean “to add.” One gave someone a valuable gift at a time of celebration. It meant “to celebrate; congratulate; auspicious occasion.” In seal style and in kanji the cowrie was moved to the bottom. The kanji 賀 means “to celebrate; auspicious.”  <Composition of the kanji 賀: 力, 口 and 貝>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ga/ is in 祝賀会 (“celebratory party” /shukuga’kai/) and 賀正 (“New Year’s greeting in writing” /gashoo/).

  1. The kanji 架 “building something over; to bridge over”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 架. The top 加 was used phonetically for /ka/. 加 above 木 “a tree” signified “building something over at a high place.” The kanji 架 means “to bridge over; building something above.”<Composition of the kanji 架: 力, 口 and 木>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ka/ is in 架線 (“overhead wire” /kasen/), 架橋 (“crosslink; bridging” /kakyoo/) and 高架道路 (“elevated road” /kookado’oro/).

  1. The kanji 勃 “to happen abrupt; enegetic”

History of Kanji 勃For the kanji 勃 the left side of the seal style was “a plant whose center was bulging with a seed,” and was used phonetically for /botsu/ to mean “a sudden change; a force pushing out from within.” A child at the bottom may suggest a seed. The right side “plough” added “power.” Together they meant “sudden occurrence.” The kanji 勃 means “to happen abruptly; energetic.”<Composition of the kanji 勃: a truncated 十, , 子 and 力>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /botsu/ is in 勃興 (“sudden rise; rise to power” /bokkoo/) and 暴動が勃発する (“a riot breaks out” /boodoo-ga boppatsu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 励 “to strive for; give encouragement; industrious”

History of Kanji 励There is no ancient writing for the kanji 励.  The left side of the kyuji 勵, in blue, for the kanji 励 was used phonetically for /ree/ to mean either “a hard mineral rock” or “a poisonous scorpion.” The right side 力 “plough” signified “hard field work.” Together they meant “to strive for; labor for; be industrious; give encouragement.” In kanji the left side became 厂 and 万. <Composition of the kanji 励: 厂, 万 and 力>

The kun-yomi 励む /hage’mu/ means (“to endeavour; be industrious” /hage’mu/) and in 励ます (“to cheer; support” /gahema’su/). The on-yomi /ree/ is in 奨励する (“to recomment; encourage” /shooree-suru/) and 激励する (“to encourage” /gekiree-suru/).

  1. The kanji 劣 “inferior; to deteriorate”

History of Kanji 劣The seal style writing of the kanji 劣 comprised 少 “a little” and 力 “power.” Together “lack of strength” meant “inferior.” The kanji 劣 means “inferior; to deteriorate.” <Composition of the kanji 劣: 少 and力>

The kun-yomi 劣る /oto’ru/ means “inferior,” and 見劣りする (“pale in comparison” /miotori-suru/). The on-yomi /retsu/ means 劣化する (“to deteriorate” /rekka-suru/) and 優劣をつける (“to judge which is better” /yu’uretsu-o tsuke’ru/).

The year 2017 is almost over. I truly thank our readers who have followed my posting or have visited our site from time to time. Your interest and support have helped me in continuing my weekly writing and preparing my manuscripts for a future book. I wish you and your family a very happy new year.   – Noriko [December 30, 2017]

The Kanji 以似台始胎治冶怠-“agricultural tool” (1)

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It is no wonder at all that many kanji were originated from agricultural implements in ancient life. A long stick with a handle that had prongs, flat piece of wood or animal shoulder bone at the end was used to loosen ground, breaking up lumps in the soil, pulling in and pushing away the soil or flattening the surface. The reference books use the kanji such as 耒, 耜, 鋤, 棃, 鍬, and etc as the explanation. If we look up these kanji in a kanji-English dictionary, various words including “a plough (plow); spade; fork; hoe” come up interchangeably.

What we know from our modern life is that a plough is a large-scale implement with prongs and is pulled by an animal to turn up the ground in a larger area. For a small area among hand implements with a long handle, a spade has a flat wooden or metal blade to remove the soil; a hoe has an angled end to turn and flatten the surface; and a digging fork has long thongs that help to break up the soil. I am not a farmer, so this distinction could be wrong.

Apparently there is a phrase in English “Call a spade a spade,” which means “speak plainly without avoiding unpleasant or embarrassing issues.” My problem is that I am not certain what I have here was a spade, hoe, plough or whatever. In any event, it was a tool that was used to prepare the soil for farming. Enough of my talking to myself. Let us assume that such technicality is irrelevant when it comes to the origin of more than three thousand years old writing. The three shapes I am planning to discuss are ム in this post, and 力 and 方 in the next one or two pots. The kanji we look at in this post are 以似・台始胎治冶怠.

  1. The kanji 以 “to use; by means of; starting from”

History of Kanji 以For the kanji 以 (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, (c) and (d) in bronze ware style and (e) in seal styles was “a hoe” for a field work. It had a bent end to turn up the soil. “An implement that one uses” gave the meaning “using X; by means of.” One’s field work began with it, thus “starting from.” In kanji a person who used a hoe was added on the right side (人). The kanji 以 means “to use; by means of; starting from.”

The kun-yomi 以って /mo’tte/ means “from; by using,” and is in 以ての外 (“the most unreasoable” /motte’-no-hoka/). The on-yomi /i/ is in X以内 (“within X” /X-i’nai/), 3個以上 (“three or more” /sankoi’joo/), 以上です (“That’ll be all” /i’joodesu/), 以下の通り (“as follows“ /i’ka-no to’ori/), 以前 (“previously; once” /i’zen/), 以後 (“onward; afterward” /i’go/) and in the expression 以心伝心 (“telepathy” /i’shin denshin/).

  1. The kanji 似 “to resemble”

History of Kanji 似In bronze ware style the left one had “a hoe,” which was used phonetically for /i; shi/ to mean “to resemble,” and 口 “a mouth.” The right one had “a person” added on the right. Together they meant “a person resembling to another.” In seal style the positions of “a person” and “a hoe” were swapped. In the kanji 似 another person was added to 以. So the kanji 似 contained two people (イ and 人), which would suit very well as mnemonics. The kanji 似 means “to resemble.” <Composition of the kanji 似: イ and 以>

The kun-yomi /niru/ means “to resemble,” and is in 母親似 (“resembling one’s mother” /hahaoyani/), and 似通う (“to resemble closely” /nikayo’u/), 似合う (“to match; fit in” /nia’u/) and in the expression 他人の空似 (“chance resemblance with someone unrelated” /tanin-no-sora’ni/), 似ても似つかない (“do not bear the slightest resemblance to” /nite’mo nitsuka’nai/). The on-yomi /ji/ is in 類似(“resemblance; similarity” /ruiji).

A “hoe” also took the shape ム in the form of 台 in kanji. It is in the kanji 台始胎治冶怠.

  1. The kanji 台 “table; platform; stand”

History of Kanji 台History of Kanji 臺The kanji 台 had the kyuji 臺, which had a different history from 台, as shown on the right. Let us look at the kyuji first. The bronze ware style and seal style writing was “a watch tower,” inside which showed “an arrow hitting the ground” (至). The kyuji 臺 faithfully reflected the seal style writing. It meant “stand; tower; raised level.”

Now the shinji 台 on the left– The bronze ware style and seal style writing comprised ム “hoe,” which was used phonetically for /i/, and 口 “mouth; box.” Together they were the original kanji for 怡 “to be delighted.” 台 is probably a borrowing to mean what the kyuji meant. The kanji 台 means “table; platform; stand.” <Composition of the kanji 台: ム and 口 >

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /dai/ is in 台 (“holder; support; mount’ pedestal” /dai/), 踏み台 (“step; jump server” /humidai/). /-Tai/ is in 舞台 (“stage” /bu’tai/), 台風 (“severe tropical storm; typhoon” /taihu’u/), 屋台 (“a float; stall” /ya’tai/) and 屋台骨 (”the framework; the foundation” /yatai’bone/).

  1. The kanji 始 “to begin; start”

History of Kanji 始For the kanji 始 the bronze ware style writings comprised “a hoe” (ム), which was phonetically used for /shi/, “mouth; speaking” (口) and “woman” (女). The views on the origin vary among kanji scholars. One explains that 台 was used phonetically for /tai; dai/ to mean “womb,” and that with 女 “woman,” from giving a new life to a child, gave the meaning “to begin.” Another explains that it meant “a first-born daughter,” and it means “to begin.” The kanji 始 means “to begin; start.” <Composition of the kanji 始: 女 and 台>

The kun-yomi 始める /hajimeru/ means “to begin; start” (a transitive verb) and 始まる /hajimaru/ (an intransitive verb), and is in 事始め (“beginning of things” /kotoha’jime/). The on-yomi /shi/ is in 開始 (“start” /kaishi/), 始業時間 (“opening time; starting time of work” /shigyooji’kan/), 始終 (“from start to finish; always” /shi’juu/), 始末 (“result; disposal” /shi’matsu/), 終始一貫して(“consistent throughout” /shu’ushi ikkan-shite/).

  1. The kanji 胎 “womb”

History of Kanji 胎The seal style writing of the kanji 胎 comprised 月, a bushu nikuzuki “flesh; a part of one’s body,” and 台, which was used phonetically for /tai/ to mean “to begin.” The part of a body where a life began meant “a womb.” The kanji 胎 means “womb.” <Composition of the kanji 胎: 月 and 台>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /tai/ is in 胎児 (“fetus” /ta’iji/), 胎内 (“the interior of the womb; uterus” /ta’inai/) and 胎動 (“quickening; signs of forthcoming event” /taidoo/).

  1. The kanji 治 “to rule; cure (illness)”

History of Kanji 治The seal style writing of the kanji 治 comprised “water,” and “a hoe” (ム) and “a mouth” (口), which was used phonetically for /shi; ji/. In ancient times controlling irrigation water or flood was a very important job for a ruler. The kanji meant “to rule; govern.” The notion was also applied on people, and meant “to cure (illness); recover.” The kanji 治 means “to rule; cure (illness).” <Composition of the kanji 治: 氵 and 台>

The kun-yomi /osame‘ru/ means “to rule; control.” Another kun-yomi 治る/nao’ru/ means “to cure; recover (from illness)” and 治す /nao’su/ is its transitive verb counterpart. The on-yomi /ji/ is in 政治 (“politics” /seeji/), 明治 (“Meiji era 1868-1912” /me’eji/). Another on-yomi /chi/ is in 統治する(“to rule over; govern” /to’ochi-suru/), 治水 (“river improvement; flood control” /chisui/), 自治 (“self-governmence” /ji’chi/), 治療 (“treatment” /chiryoo/) and 治安 (“public order; law and order” /chian/).

  1. The kanji 冶 “to melt metal; finish work beautifully”

History of Kanji 冶For the kanji 冶 in the bronze ware style writing “a hoe” on the  top left and “a mouth” on the right made up the shape 台. The two short lines on the bottom left were metal pieces. Together they meant “melting metal; metallurgy.” The seal style writing had “streaks in ice” that signified smithy work– Like water freezes solid to ice or ice melts to liquid, metal work was melting and solidifying process. It became 冫, a bushu nisui “ice; icy cold” in kanji. The kanji 冶 means “to melt metal; finish work beautifully.” <Composition of the kanji 冶: 冫 and 台>

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /ya/ is in 冶金 (“metallurgy” /yakin/).

  1. The kanji 怠 “lazy; to neglect; neglectful”

History of Kanji 怠For the kanji 怠 in bronze ware style and seal style it had phonetically-used 台 /tai/ and “a heart” (心). Together they made up the kanji 怡 /tai/ that meant “joyful.” When you are joyful you are more relaxed and thus become neglectful. The kanji 怠 meant “lazy; to neglect; neglectful.” <Composition of the kanji 怠: 台 and 心>

The kun-yomi /okota’ru/ means “to neglect.” Another kun-yomi is 怠ける (“to be idle; get lazy; slacken one’s efforts” /namake’ru/. The on-yomi /tai/ is in 怠惰な (“lazy” /ta’ida-na/) and 倦怠感 (“physical weariness; feeling of fatigue” /kenta’ikan/).

We shall continue on this topic in the next two posts. Thank you very much for your reading. -Noriko [December 23, 2017]

The Kanji 皿益塩温蓋尽盛盗盆血- Food (8)

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We have been exploring kanji whose origin was related to food preparation and kitchens. In this post we are going to explore the kanji that contain 皿 “a stemmed dish or bowl” — the kanji 皿益塩温蓋尽盛盗盆血.

  1. The kanji 皿 “flat dish; plate”

History of Kanji 皿For the kanji 皿 (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, was “a stemmed dish or bowl.” It meant “dish; bowl; plate.” (c) in bronze ware style, in green, had “metal” added. (d) in seal style, in red, was back to a stemmed bowl only. The kanji 皿 means “a flat dish; plate.”

The kun-yomi /sara/ means “plate,” and is in the expression 目を皿にする (“to open one’s eyes wide” /me’-o sara-ni-suru/). /-Zara/ is in 大皿 (“platter; large dish” /oozara/), and 灰皿 (“ash tray” /haizara/), 取り皿 (“individual plate” /tori’zara/) and 受け皿 (“saucer; receiver” /uke’zara/). There is no on-yomi.

  1. The kanji 益 “gain; profit”

History of Kanji 益For the kanji 益 in oracle bone style and bronze ware style, a stemmed dish had “drops of water overflowing.” What was superabundant gave the meaning “to increase; gain.” In seal style the top was the seal style writing for “water” 水 that was placed sideways. The kanji 益 means “gain; profit.”  <the composition of the kanji 益: a truncated ソ, 一, ハ and 皿>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /eki/ is in 利益 (“profit; return; gain” /ri’eki/), 国益 (“national interest; national prosperity” /kokueki/), 公益 (“public welfare; public interest” /kooeki/), 収益 (“proceeds; earning” /shu’ueki/) and 純益 (“net profit” /ju’n-eki/).  Another on-yomi /yaku/ is in ご利益 (“divine favor” /gori’yaku/).

  1. The kanji 塩 “salt”

History of Kanji 塩For the kanji 塩 the seal style writing and the kyuji 鹽, in blue, had a complex shape — The top left, 臣, was “a watchful eye,” and the top right had “a person looking down a salt field where dots signified salt crystals.” The bottom was “a stemmed bowl with water inside.” The makings of this writing were very similar to 監 “to watch carefully,” which was phonetically /kan/. In the kanji 塩, the initial consonant disappeared. With a salt pit added it meant “salt.” The shinji 塩 was an informal style of the kyuji 鹽. The kanji 塩 means “salt.”  <the composition of the kanji 塩: a bushu tsuchihen, a short ノ, 一, a side-long 口 and 皿 >

The kun-yomi /shio’/ means “salt,” and is in 塩加減 (“seasoning with salt” /shioka’gen/), 塩辛い (“salty; briny” /shiokara’i/), 塩味 (“saline taste” /shio’aji/), 塩っぱい (“salty” /shoppa’i/), 塩気 (“salty taste; a hint of salt” /shioke/). The on-yomi /en/ is in 塩分 (“salt content; saline matter” /e’nbun/), 減塩醤油 (“light sodium soy sauce” /gen-ensho’oyu/) and 塩化ビニール (“vinyl chloride” /enkabini’iru/).

  1. The kanji 温 “warm; mild; gentle”

History of Kanji 温For the kanji 温 the left side of the seal style writing was “water.” The right side had “a stemmed bowl whose steam was captured inside a lid.” Together they meant “warm; mild; gentle.” The kanji 温 means “warm; mild; gentle.”  <the composition of the kanji 温: 氵, 日 and 皿>

The kun-yomi 温かい /atataka’i/ means “warm; mild; genial,” and is in 温める (“to warm” /atatame’ru/).  The on-yomi /on/ is in 温度 (“temperature” /o’ndo/), 温度計 (“thermometer” /ondokee/), 体温計 (“thermometer to take body temperature” /taionkee/), 気温 (“air temperature” /kion/), 温暖な (“mild; warm” /ondan-na/), 温和な 人 (“gentle person” /o’nwa-na/) and 温泉 (“hot spring; spa” /onsen/).

  1. The kanji 蓋 “lid; to cover; enwrap”

History of Kanji 蓋For the kanji 蓋 in bronze ware style (a) had “grass; plants” signifying “a covering like thatching” at the top while (b) did not. Both had “a lid or cover over a stemmed bowl.” In (c) in seal style the grass covering returned to signify “a cover.” The writing was also used to mean “probably; perhaps.” The kanji 蓋 means “a lid; to cover; possibly.”  <the composition of the kanji 蓋: 艹, 去 and 皿>

The kun-yomi 蓋 /huta/ means “cover; lid,” and is in 蓋をする “to put a cover on; put a lid on.”  /-Buta/ is in 鍋蓋 (“pot lid” /nabebuta/). The on-yomi /gai/ is in 蓋然性 (“possibility” /gaizensee/).

  1. The kanji 尽 “to exhaust; run out; devote”

History of Kanji 尽For the kanji 尽in oracle bone style it had “a stemmed bowl with a twig that was held from the top.” The twigs were used to cleanse the bowl completely. It meant “thoroughly.” In seal style it comprised “a brush (聿)” and “a stemmed bowl (皿)” along with “a fire” in the middle. The fire signified “drying.” Another view is that it was water droplets after washing that was mistaken as a fire, and became four dots in the kyuji 盡. The shinji 尽 was an informal writing of 盡. I must say that it is a drastically reduced shape from the kyuji. The kanji 尽 means “to exhaust; run out; devote.”  <the composition of the kanji 尽: 尺 and the bottom of 冬>

The kun-yomi /tsu/ is in 尽くす (“to dedicate; exhaust” /tsuku’su/), 心尽くしの (“lovingly prepared” /kokorozu’kushi-no/), 力尽きる (“to use up all one’s strength” /chikaratsuki’ru/) and 計算尽くし (“full of calculations” /keesanzu’kushi/), The on-yomi /jin/ is in 尽力 (“effort; exertion; service” /jinryoku/) and 大尽 (“rich man” /da’ijin/).

  1. The kanji 盛 “to flourish; heaty; vigorous; prosper; heap”

History of Kanji 盛For the kanji 盛 the left side of the oracle bone style comprised “a stemmed bowl” that was “spilling out offerings”- 皿. The right side was “a long-blade halberd” that signified “to pile up,” (成) and was used phonetically used for /see/. Together offerings piled up in a stemmed bowl for a religious service meant “to thrive; prosperous; to pile up.” In bronze ware style the two components were placed top and bottom. The kanji 盛 means “to flourish; vigorous; prosper; heap.”  <the composition of the kanji 盛: 成 and皿 >

The kanji 盛 has many different readings. The kun-yomi /saka-/ is in 盛んな (“prosperous” /sakan-na/), and /-zaka/ is in 育ち盛り (“growth period in children” /sodachiza’kari/) and 男盛り (“prime of manhood” /otokoza’kari/). Another kun-yomi /mo/ is in 盛る (“to heap up; stack up” /moru/), and is in 盛り上がる (“to swell; rouse” /moriagaru/), 盛り合わせ (“assortment; sampler” /moriawase/) and 酒盛りをする (“to have a drinking bout” /sakamori-o-suru/). The on-yomi /see/ is in 盛会 (“lively party; successful meeting” /seekai/). Another on-yomi /joo/ is in 繁盛する (“to prosper” /han’joo-suru/).

  1. The kanji 盗 “to steal”

History of Kanji 盗For the kanji 盗 in bronze ware style, the top was “water” and “a person with his mouth open,” signifying “a person drooling with envy.” The bottom was “a stemmed bowl.” The seal style writing had the same components. Together they meant “a person wanted something in the raised bowl so much that he stole it.” The top of the kyuji 盜, 3, is the bottom of 羨 “to envy.” In shinji, the top became 次. The kanji 盗 means “to steal.”  <the composition of the kanji 盗: 次 and 皿>

The kun-yomi 盗む /nusu’mu/ means “to steal,” and is in 盗みを働く(“to commit a theft; steal” /nusumi’o hataraku/), 盗み食い (“eating by stealth” /nusumigui/), 盗み聞き (“eavesdropping” /nusumigiki/). The on-yomi /too/ is in 盗賊 (“thief; burglar” /toozoku/) and 強盗 (“burglar; robber” /gootoo/).

  1. The kanji 盆 “tray; flat dish”

History of Kanji 盆For the kanji 盆 in bronze ware style and in seal style it comprised 分, which was used phonetically for /bon/ to mean “a bulging shape,” and 皿. Together they meant “a bowl; pot; basin,” and also “something in a concave shape.” In Japanese it is used for a flat dish or tray to carry food. The kanji 盆 means “tray; flat dish.” It is also used to mean a Buddhist event in August to welcome the sprits of the ancestors and the dead.  <the composition of the kanji 盆: 分 and 皿>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /bon/ is in お盆 (“tray” /obon/), お盆 (“a Buddhist event in August for spirits of the dead to return” /obo’n/), 盆踊り (“neighborhood Bon festival dance in summer” /bon-o’dori/) and 盆地 (“catchment basin” /bonchi/).

  1. The kanji 血 “blood”

History of Kanji 血For the kanji 血 (a) and (b) in oracle bone style was “a stemmed dish with something inside.” What was inside was what the writing was about — it was “blood from a sacrificial animal” for a religious rite. Such blood was used for making a contract/promise. The kanji 血 means “blood.”  <the composition of the kanji 血: a very short ノ and 皿>

The kun-yomi 血 /chi/ means “blood,” and is in 血だらけになる (“to become covered with blood” /chida’rake-ni naru/) and 鼻血 (“nose bleeding” /hanaji/). The on-yomi /ketsu/ is in 血液 (“blood” /ketsu’eki/), 赤血球 (“red blood cell” /sekke’kyuu/), 出血 (“bleeding; hemorrhage” /shukketsu/), 血圧 (“blood pressure” /ketsuatsu/), 血清 (“blood serum” /kessee/) and 血縁関係 (“blood relative” /ketsuenka’nkee/).

Due to my engagements elsewhere I shall be away from my blog activities for the next several weeks. Thank you always for your interest and support for this blog.  – Noriko [October 7, 2017]

The Kanji 復腹複覆履良郎朗浪廊 – Food (7)  

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In the last post we explored the kanji that originated from a tool to measure or handle grain and food, and saw that there were surprisingly many different shapes — 量斗升 and possibly 両, and other kanji that contain those components. In this post, we are going to add a couple more to the list – the right side of 復 and 良.

  1. The kanji 復 “to repeat; return way; again”

History of Kanji 復For the kanji 復, (a) in oracle bone style, in brown, had a cylindrical shape with a small end at the top and the bottom. This was an apparatus which one flipped up and down repeatedly in measuring grain. Underneath it was “a backward foot,”(夂) signifying “a return.” They meant “a repeated motion of going back-and-forth.” In bronze ware style (b) and (c), in green, “a crossroad” (彳) and “a hand” at the bottom were added. In (c) another “forward-facing footprint” is also seen to emphasize a repeated action of “going” and “coming” (by a backward footprint.) In (d) in seal style, in red, a forward-facing footprint was dropped. In kanji the two rounds that signified “a repeat” was changed to 日. The kanji 復 means “to repeat; return way; again.”  <the composition of the kanji 復: 彳, ノ,一, 日 and  夂>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /huku/ is in 反復する (“to do something over again; iterative” /hanpuku-suru/), 復習 (“review study; brush up” /hukushuu/), 復元する (“to restore; reconstruct” /hukugen-suru/), 回復する (“to recover” /kaihuku-suru/) and  往復する (“to go and return” /oohuku-suru/) and 復路 (“return trip” /hu’kuro/).

  1. The kanji 腹 “abdomen; belly; middle”

History of Kanji 腹For the kanji 腹, in oracle bone style and in bronze ware style it had “a measuring tool with a thick middle,” which was (a) in oracle bone style 腹 above. With “a backward footprint” together they were used phonetically for /huku/ and signify a repeated action. To this component “a person” was added on the right. In 3 in seal style “a person” was replaced by 月, a bushu nikuzuki “flesh; a part of a body.” The part of one’s body that is thick is one’s abdomen. It meant “abdomen.” The kanji 腹 means “abdomen; belly; middle.”  <the composition of the kanji 腹: 月 and the right side of 復>

The kun-yomi お腹 /onaka/ means “stomach.” Another kun-yomi /hara’/ is in 腹ぺこ (“hungry; starving” /harapeko/) in casual style, 腹ごしらえする (“to have a meal before starting work; to fortify oneself with a meal before going” /harago’shirae-suru/), 腹芸 (“subtle communication using one’s personality” /haragee/), 腹いせをする(“to get back at someone; get one’s revenge” /haraise-o-suru/). The on-yomi /huku/ is in 空腹 (“to behungry” /kuuhuku/), and /-puku/ is in 満腹になる (“to become full” /manpuku-ni-na’ru/) and 切腹 (“seppuku; hara-kiri” /seppuku/).

  1. The kanji 複 “to duplicate; copy; complex”

History of Kanji 複For the kanji 複, the seal style writing comprised 衣 “collar,” signifying “something in a fold,” and the right side of 復 meaning “to repeat,” which was used phonetically for /huku/. Together they ­meant “to duplicate.” In kanji the left became 衤, a bushu koromohen “clothing.” The kanji 複 meant “to duplicate; copy” and also “complex.”   <the composition of the kanji 複: 衤 and the right side of 復>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /huku/ is in 複製 (“duplicate; copy” /hukusee/), 複雑な (“complex” /hukuzatsu-na/) and 複層 (“double layers” /hukusoo/).

  1. The kanji 覆 “to cover; overturn; flip over”

History of Kanji 覆For the kanji 覆, the top of the seal style writing, 襾, was “a cover on an opening with the stopper in the middle.” The bottom 復 originally meant “to flip over a measuring apparatus,” and was used phonetically for /huku/. In kanji the top became 覀. Together they meant “to overturn; cover.” The kanji 覆 means “to cover; overturn; flip over.” <the composition of the kanji 覆: 覀 and 復>

The kun-yomi 覆う /oou/ means “to cover; wprad over; wrap,” and is in 日覆い (“sun shade; sun shield” /hio’oi/). Another kun-yomi 覆す /kutsuga’esu/ (and its intransitive verb 覆る /kutsuga’eru/)  means “to reverse; overthrow; turn over.” The on-yomi /huku/ is in 覆面 (“a mask to conceal one’s face” /hukumen/).  /-Puku/ is in 転覆 (“upset; overturn” /tenpuku/).

  1. The kanji 履 “clogs; to put on footwear; to perform; carry out”

History of Kanji 履The kanji 履 contains 復. However, it came from a very different origin. (a) in bronze ware style had “a leg” and “a person with a formal hat.” (b) in bronze ware style and (c) in Old style, in purple, had “a boat shape footwear” (signifying “to transport”) and “a person; head” (頁). Together they meant “one goes forward with footwear on” or “to perform.” In seal style (d) was replaced by 復 under 尸, a bushu shikabane. The kanji 履 means “clogs; to put on footwear; to perform; carry out.” <the composition of the kanji 履: 尸 and 復>

The kun-yomi 履く /haku/ means “to wear clothes by putting legs through, such as trousers, pants, shoes, skirt, etc.,” and is in 履物 (“footwear; foot gear” /haki’mono/), 上履き (“slippers” /uwabaki/). The on-yomi /ri/ is in 草履 (“Japanese sandal-style footwear for kimono” /zoori/), ゴム草履 (“flip-flops” /gomuzo’ori/), 履行する (“to execute; carry out” /rikoo-suru/) and 契約の不履行 (“non-fulfilment of a contract; a beach of agreement” /keeyaku-huri’koo/).

  1. The kanji 良 “good; excellent; true”

History of Kanji 良For the kanji 良 (a) in oracle bone style, (b) and (c) in bronze ware style was “an apparatus to select good grains”– The top was the opening to pour grain in and to blow air through to remove bad grains, and good ones were taken out from the bottom. (d) in seal style still retained that meaning in its shape, but in kanji there is little remnant to tell us its history. The kanji 良 meant “good; excellent; true.”

The kun-yomi 良い /yo‘i/ means “good,” and is in 仲良し (“good friend” /naka’yoshi/). The on-yomi /ryoo/ is in 改良する (“to improve” /kairyoo-suru/), 不良品 (“defective product” /huryoohin/), 優良な (“excellent; fine” /yuuryoo-na/), 良心 (“conscience” /ryo’shin/) and 良縁 (“suitable candidate for marriage” /ryooen/).

  1. The kanji 郎 “man”

History of Kanji 郎For the kanji 郎 in seal style it comprised 良, which was used phonetically for /roo/, and 邑 “town; village,” which became 阝, a bushu oozato. It was originally the name of a town. 郎 was used to mean a government official, and it came to be used in a male name. The kyuji 郞, in blue, had 良 on the left, which became simplified by dropping a stroke in shinji. The kanji 郎 means “man.”  <the composition of the kanji 郎: 良 without the 6th stroke and 阝>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /roo/ is used in a male name, such as 太郎, 一郎 (both “the first son”), 次郎, 二郎 (“the second son”) and 三郎 (“the third son”, etc. It is in 一族郎党 (“one’s whole clan” /ichi’zoku rootoo/) and 馬鹿野郎 (“fool; idiot” as a cursing word used by angry male speakers /bakayaro’o/).

  1. The kanji 朗 “cheerful; lively”

History of Kanji 朗For the kanji 朗 in seal style it comprised 月 “moon,” signifying “bright light of a moon,” and 良 “good,” which was used phonetically for /roo/. Together they meant “clear and bright.” In the kyuji 朗, 2, the positions of the two components were swapped. In shinji 良 was simplified in shinji by dropping a stroke. The kanji 朗 means “cheerful; lively.”  <the composition of the kanji 朗: 良 without the 6th stroke and 月>

The kun-yomi 朗らかな /hoga’raka/ means “merry; cheerful.” The on-yomi /roo/ is in 明朗な “bright; cheerful” /meeroo-na/).

  1. The kanji 浪 “wave; drift; waste”

History of Kanji 浪For the kanji 浪, the seal style writing comprised “water” and 良, which was used phonetically for /roo/. Together they were used as the name of a river. The right side 良 originated from an apparatus of selecting good grains in which grains were shaken and moved about, like “waves.” The kanji 浪 was borrowed to mean “wave; drift; waste.”  <the composition of the kanji 浪: 氵 and 良>

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /roo/ is in 浪人 (“unemployed samurai” /roonin/) and 浪人する (to study for an entrance exam for a year to try again” /roonin-suru/), 浪士 (“lordless samurai” /ro’oshi/), 放浪する (“to roam; wander about” /hooroo-suru/) and 放浪者 (“wandering tramp” /hooro’osha/).

  1. The kanji 廊 “corridor; walkway”

History of Kanji 廊For the kanji 廊 the seal style writing had 广 a bushu madare “the eaves of a house; canopy.” Underneath was 郞 “government official,” which was used phonetically for /roo/. Officials conducted business there. The kanji 廊 means “corridor; walkway.”  <the composition of the kanji: 广 and 郎 >

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /roo/ is in 廊下 (“hallway; space between rooms inside a house” 回廊 (“veranda; corridor” /kairoo/).

The kanji we looked at in this and last postings were either from a measuring apparatus or a ladle that was used for measuring. In some kanji they were used simply as a phonetic feature and bore little relevance to its original meaning. That is the way a large number of kanji were created as keisei moji (形声文字) “semantic-phonetic writing.”  Before I take a month’s break from posting in October and November, I shall try to post one more article next week, probably on kanji that contain 皿.  Thank you very much for your reading.  -Noriko [September 30, 2017]

The Kanji 病痛疾疲疫痴嫉痩療痢痘症- “table” (4) 疒

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In this fourth posting on kanji that originated from different sorts of tables, we are going to explore kanji with “a sickbed”– 病痛疾疲疫痴嫉痩療痢痘症. What is common among those twelve kanji is 疒, a bushu yamaidare (/yamai’dare/). /Ya’mai/ (病) is an old word for “sickness” and /-dare/ is a voicing assimilation of /tare/ that means “to hang down; droop.” A bushu whose name ends with /-dare/ has a shape that begins with a top component that hangs down to the bottom left.

  1. The kanji 疾 “sickness; very fast”

History of Kanji 疾For the kanji 疾 (a) in oracle bone style, in brown, was “a sick person with perspiration due to high fever or blood (indicated by the three dots) lying in bed” that was placed vertically. On the other hand, (b) in bronze ware style, in green, was “a person” and “an arrow” at the bottom right, together signifying “a wounded person shot with an arrow.” An arrow was also used phonetically for /shitsu/. (c) in seal style, in red, was (a) and (b) combined – “a sick bed” and “an arrow.” In (d) in Old style, in purple, an arrow was placed under 厂. The kanji 疾comprises a bushu yamaidare (疒) and “an arrow” (矢). Having an arrow as its component, it also meant “very fast.” The kanji 疾 means “illness; very fast.”  <the composition of the kanji 疾: 疒 and 矢>

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /shitsu/ is in 疾患 (“disease; malady; ailment” /shikkan/), 疾病 (“disease; malady” /shippee/), 疾走する (“to sprint; run at full speed” /shissoo-suru/) and 疾風 (“gale; strong wind” /shippuu/).

  1. The kanji 病 “illness; sick”

History of Kanji 病For the kanji 病, the seal style writing comprised “a bed” that was vertically placed, and 一, signifying “a person lying down” on the right side, and 丙, which was used phonetically for /hee; byoo/ to mean “to add; increase.” Together they originally signified someone’s illness had deteriorated or “ill; sick.” In kanji “a person lying in a sickbed” became 疒, a bushu yamaidare. The kanji means “illness; sick; something unhealthy.”  <the composition of the kanji 病: 疒 and 丙>

The kun-yomi 病 /ya’mai/ means “sickness; illness,” as in 病に倒れる (“to fall ill” /ya’mai-ni taore’ru/. The on-yomi /byoo/ is in 病気 (“illness; disease” /byooki/), 病床 (“one’s sickbed” /byooshoo/), 病欠 (“absence due to illness” /byooketsu/), 病死 (“death from an illness; natural death” /byooshi/), 病的な (“morbid; unsound; unhealthy; abnormal” /byooteki-na/) and 金欠病 (“having little money” colloquial among friends /kinketsubyoo/). Another on-yomi /pee/ is in 疾病 (“disease” /shippee/).

  1. The kanji 痛 “pain; severe; acute”

History of Kanji 痛For the kanji 痛, the seal style writing had the elements of a bushu yamaidare. On the right side below a line, 甬 “a wooden pail,” was used phonetically for /tsuu/ to mean “to pass through.” In sickness what passed through one’s body was “pain; ache.” A pain running through a body could be “piercing and severe.” The kanji 痛 means “pain; ache; severe; piercing.”  <the composition of the kanji 痛: 疒, マ and 用>

The kun-yomi 痛い /ita’i/ means “to ache; be in pain,” 痛々しい (“pitiful; pathetic” /itaitashi’i/) and 手痛い (“serious; costly” /teita’i/). The on-yomi /tsuu/ is in 苦痛な (“painful” /kutsuu-na/), 沈痛な (“grave; sad” /chintsuu-na/), 痛感する (“to feel acutely; take something to heart” /tsuukan-suru/) and 痛切に (“keenly; poignantly; acutely” /tsuusetsu-ni/).

  1. The kanji 疲 “fatigue; to be tired”

History of Kanji 疲For the kanji 疲, the seal style writing had the components for 疒, a bushu yamaidare, and 皮, which was used phonetically for /hi/ to mean “to be tired.” The kanji 疲 means “fatigue; to become tired; worn out.”  <the composition of the kanji 疲: 疒 and 皮>

The kun-yomi 疲れる /tsukare’ru/ means “to become fatigued; become tired,” and is in the expression お疲れ様でした (“Thank you for your hard work” /otsukaresama-de’shita/). /-Zukare, -づかれ/ is in 気疲れ (“mental fatigue; nervous exhaustion” /kizukare/. The on-yomi /hi/ is in 疲労 (“fatigue” /hiroo/), 金属疲労 (“metal fatigue” /kinzokuhi’roo/) and 疲弊する (“to grow impoverished; become exhausted” /hihee-suru/).

  1. The kanji 疫 “epidemic”

History of Kanji 疫For the kanji 疫, the seal style writing comprised the elements of a bushu yamaidare. The right side under a line (“a person”) was “a hand holding a weapon” (殳, a bushu hokozukuri), which was /eki/ phonetically, and is believed to be an abbreviated form of the kanji 役. The kanji 役, when pronounced as /eki/, meant “conscripted for a battle or frontier work,” and it had the connotation that it was something everyone did reluctantly. So, 疒, a bushu yamaidare and 殳 together meant “illness that everyone unwillingly got” – that is, “an epidemic.” The kanji 疫 means “epidemic.”  <the composition of the kanji 疫: 疒 and 殳>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /eki/ is in 疫病 (“an epidemic” /ekibyoo/) and 検疫 (“quarantine” /ken-eki/).

  1. The kanji 痴 “foolish; idiocy”

History of Kanji 痴The seal style of the kanji 痴 comprised the components of a bushu yamaidare, and 疑 “to doubt; unsure,” which was used phonetically for /chi/. The kanji 疑 had the origin that someone stood still not knowing which way to go or what to do. Together someone who was in such a sick condition that he could not judge correctly meant “foolish; idiocy” The kyuji reflected the seal style, but in the shinji 痴, 疑 was replaced by 知 “to know,” which was phonetically /chi/. It is interesting to see that components (疑 and 知) that had almost opposite meanings were used to carry the same meaning.  <the composition of the kanji 痴: 疒 and 知>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /chi/ is in 痴呆症 (“dementia” /chihooshoo/), 白痴 (“idiocy; an idiot” /hakuchi/) and 愚痴 (“silly complaint; grumble” /guchi/), as in 愚痴をこぼす (“to whine; grumble” /guchi-o-kobo’u/).

  1. The kanji 嫉 “jealous”

History of Kanji 嫉The seal style writing of the kanji 嫉 had 女 “a woman” and 疾, which was used phonetically for /shitsu/, as we have just seen in 1 above. According to Shirakawa, Setsumon gave the writing with イ, a ninben “a person,” rather than 女 “woman” as on the left side of 疾 to be the Correct writing, but Setsumon did not seem to have given any seal style sample. (The seal style on the left is from Shirakawa.) Together they meant “jealous.” The kanji 嫉 means “to be jealous; envy.”  <the composition of the kanji 嫉: 女 and 嫉>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /shitsu/ is in 嫉妬する (“to be jealous” /shitto-suru/) and 嫉妬心 (“jealous feeling; envy” /shitto’shin/).

 8. The kanji 痩 “to become haggard; become emaciated; slim”

History of Kanji 痩For the kanji 痩 the seal style writing had “a table” on the left, and the right side had a line on top, and 叟 “an elder person” was used phonetically for /soo/. “A sick old person” gave the meaning “to become haggard; emaciated.”  <the composition of the kanji 疲: 疒 and 皮>

The kun-yomi 痩せる /yaseru/ means “to become thin; lose weight.” The on-yomi /soo/ is in 瘦身 (“slim figure; lean figure” /sooshin/).

  1. The kanji 療 “medical treatment”

History of Kanji 療In seal style (a) and (b) had the components for a bushu yamaidare. The right side 尞 of (a) underneath 一 was used phonetically for /ryoo/. 2 had 樂 “comfort,” which is the kyuji for the kanji 楽. Together they meant “relieving pains of a sick person.” The kanji 療 means “medical treatment.”  <the composition of the kanji 疲: 疒 and 尞>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ryoo/ is in 治療 (“treatment; care; remedy” /chiryoo/), 療法 (“therapy; treatment” /ryoohoo/) and 療養中 (“under medical treatment” /ryooyoochuu/).

  1. The kanji 痢 “diarrhea”

There is no ancient writing. The kanji 痢 comprises “a person in sick bed” and 利, which was used phonetically for /ri/ and to mean “quick.” The kanji 痢 mean “diarrhea.”  <the composition of the kanji 痢: 疒 and 利>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ri/ is in 下痢 (“diarrhea” /geri/) and 赤痢 (“dysentery” /se’kiri/).

  1. The kanji 痘 “smallpox”

There is no ancient writing. The kanji 痘 comprised a bushu yamaidare, and 豆, which was used phonetically for /too/ and meant “bean.” 豆 originally meant “a raised tall bowl” that was /too/ phonetically, as seen in kanji such as 頭 “head.” It came to mean “bean.” A disease that gave pustules is smallpox. The kanji 痘 means “smallpox.  <the composition of the kanji 痘: 疒 and 豆>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /too/ is in 種痘 (“smallpox vaccine” /shutoo/).

  1. The kanji 症 “symptom of illness”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 症. The kanji 症 comprises 疒 “sick bed,” and 正, which was used phonetically for /shoo/ to mean “sign.” Together they meant “how an illness manifests.” The kanji 症 means “symptom of illness.” <the composition of the kanji 症: 疒 and 正>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /shoo/ is in 症状 (“symptom” /shoojo’o/), 既往症 (“past illnesses” /kiooshoo/), 炎症を起こす (“to cause inflammation” /enshoo-o oko’su/) and 重症 (“severely ill” /juushoo/).

In the last four postings we have explored various shapes that originated from a table with legs — 几・其・丙・爿・ 疒.  I am surprised at the extent of the use of a table in kanji, some even given a 90-degree turn. In the next posting we shall move onto another topic. I am thinking about the area of a kitchen and cooking. Thank you very much for your reading. – Noriko [August 6, 2017]

The Kanji 机処拠飢其基期棋碁欺-“table; base”(1)几其

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There are different components of kanji that originated from “a table.” In this posting two types of tables, 几 and the bottom of 其, are discussed: the kanji 机処拠飢 and 其基期棋碁欺.

  1. The kanji 机 “desk”

History of Kanji 机For the kanji 机, in seal style (a) was a low table with a leg on each side. It was used as a low table, a chair to sit on or an armrest. In (2) “wood” (木) was added on the left side. A wooden low table (机) meant “desk; writing table.”

The kun-yomi 机 /tsukue/ means “desk,” and is in 文机 (“low writing table” /huzu’kue/) and 学習机 (“a desk with shelves, a lamp and other features  that are designed for a grade school pupil” /gakushuuzu’kue/). The on-yomi /ki/ is in 机上の空論 (“impractical theory” /kijoo-jo-kuuron/).  <The composition of the kanji 机: 木 and 几>

  1. The kanji 処 “place”

History of Kanji 処For the kanji 処, (a) and (b) in bronze ware style, in green, had a person wearing a tiger headdress for a votive play sitting on a chair, with his legs stretched in front. The foot was facing sideways, which might have signified “not moving forward.” Together they meant “to stay; be at a place; do something so that it goes better.” From that it meant “to handle; deal with.” In seal style, in red, in (c) a tiger (虎) was dropped, leaving a backward/backward foot (夂) and a chair (几), whereas in (d) a tiger became the top that enclosed 夂 and几. The kyuji 處, in blue, reflected 4, whereas the shinji 処 reflected 3. The kanji 処 means “place; situation; to handle; deal with.”   <The composition of the  kanji 処: 夂 and 几>

The kun-yomi 処 /tokoro/ means “place.” The on-yomi /sho/ is in 処理 (“to process; handle” /sho’ri/), 処分 (“to dispose; punish” /sho’bun/), 対処する (to deal with; handle” /ta’isho-suru/), 処世 (“conduct of life” /shosee/), 処刑 (“to execute; put to death” /shokee/) and 処する (“to deal; manage; punish” /shoru’ru/).

  1. The kanji 拠 “to be based on”

History of Kanji 拠The seal style writing had “hand” on the left side. The right side had “a tiger” and “a boar; pig,” but was used phonetically for /kyo/. Together they meant “to be based on a (particular) place.” The right side of the kyuji 據 was different from the kyuji 處 for 処, as in (e) in 2 above, but in kanji (拠) it became 処.   <The composition of the kanji 拠: 扌, 夂 and 几>

The kun-yomi 拠る /yoru/ means “to be caused by; based on” and 拠り所とする (“to rely on; make it as its base” /yoridokoro-to-suru/). The on-yomi /kyo/ is in 拠点とする (“to be based in ~” /kyoten-to suru/), 拠点 (“base; strong foothold” /kyoten/), 拠出する (“to contribute; donate” /kyoshutu-suru/) and 典拠 (“authority; reliable source” /te’nkyo/).

History of Kanji - Bottom of 其The next shape for a table or base appears as a component only. (There is no font on MS Word for Mac that we can use in text. It is shown on the right in a graphics file. (It is like 六 without the top.) It meant “a place to put something on; base.” This shape is seen in 其基期棋碁欺.

  1. The kanji 飢 “to starve; hunger”

History of Kanji 飢For the kanji 飢 in seal style, (a) comprised covered food on a raised bowl (食)  and 几, which was used phonetically for /ki/. It meant “hunger; to starve.” (b) had 幾 on the right, which was used phonetically for /ki/ to mean “little.” The kanji 飢 reflected (a).  <The composition of the kanji 飢: a bushu shokuhen (one fewer stroke than 食) and 几>

The kun-yomi 飢える /ue’ru/ means “to be starved; famished.” The on-yomi /ki/ is in 飢饉 (“famine” /ki’kin/), 水飢饉 (“water shortage; drought” and 飢餓 (“starvation” /ki’ga/).

  1. The kanji 其 “that; the”

History of Kanji 其The kanji 其 is not a Joyo kanji. (a) in oracle bone style and (b) in bronze ware style was a winnowing basket for removing chaff from grain, and was /ki/ phonetically. In (c) in bronze ware style and (d) in seal style the basket was placed on a base. The writing was borrowed to mean “the; that.”

The kun-yomi /so/ is in 其の他 (“other than it” /sono’ta/) and 其の件 (“the matter” /sonoke’n/). There is no on-yomi.

  1. The kanji 基 “base; foundation”

History of Kanji 基For the kanji 基, the bronze ware style writing comprised a winnowing apparatus with its base (其), which was used phonetically for /ki/, and “soil; ground” (土). Together they meant the ground on which a building was built — “foundation; base.” In seal style, the same components were kept. The kanji 基 means “basis; base; foundation.”  <The composition of the kanji 基: 其 and 土>

The kun-yomi 基 /moto/ means “base; foundation.” The on-yomi /ki/ is in 基本 “base; foundation; basis” /kihon/), 基盤 (“base; foundation” /kiban/), 基準 (“criterion; standard; reference” /kijun/), 基金 (“fund; monetary fund” /ki’kin/), 基地 (“base; military base” /ki’chi/) and 基礎 (“base; pedestal; groundwork” /ki’so/).

  1. The kanji 期 “specific time; period­; to expect”

For the kanji 期 the bronze ware style writing had “the sun” at the top, and 其, which was used phonetically for /ki/ at the bottom. Together they meant “a specific time or period.” In Old style, in purple, the sun was inside the base. In seal style, on the right side the sun was replaced by a moon (月).  A moon had a cycle of waxing and waning — “thus, a cycle of time.” The kanji 期 means “specific time; period­; cycle of time; to expect.”  <The composition of the kanji 期: 其 and 月>

There is no kun-yomi. There are two on-yomi. The kan-on /ki/ is in 期日 (“term; due date” /ki’jitsu/), 期間 (“duration; period” /ki’kan/), 任期 (term of service; term of office” /ni’nki/), 期待する (“to hope for” /kitai-suru/) and 予期する (“to anticipate; expect” /yo’ki-suru/). The go-on /go/ is in 末期 (“the hour of death; the end of one’s life” /ma’tsugo/). (末期 in kan-on /ma’kki/ means “end stage; advanced stage,” not necessarily connoting one’s death.)

The next two kanji 棋 and 碁 have rather specialized use– a checkerboard or a game that was played on a square board. It came from a square shape of a winnowing apparatus.

  1. The kanji 棋 “checkerboard”

History of Kanji 棋The seal style writing comprised 其, which was used phonetically for /ki/ to mean “square shape,” and “wood” (木) below. Together they meant a square checkerboard. The kanji 棋 is only used for the words that are related to Japanese shogi play 将棋 /shoogi/, in which the kanji 将 /sho’o/ means “commander; general.”  <The composition of the kanji 棋: 木 and 其>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /gi/ is in 将棋 (“Japanese chess” /shoogi/).

  1. The kanji 碁 “go play”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 碁. The kanji comprised 其 “square” and 石 “stone.” A game that uses a square board and small stones is a game of go. The kanji 碁 means “play of go; game of go.”  <The composition of the kanji 碁: 其 and 石>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /go/ means “a play of go/, and is in 囲碁 (“game of go” /i’go/), a more formal name than just /go/, 碁盤 (“go board; checkerboard” /goban/) and 碁石 (“small round stones in black or white used for go play” /goishi/).

  1. The kanji 欺 “to deceive”

History of Kanji 欺The seal style writing comprised 其, which was used phonetically for /gi/, and a person with his mouth open wide (欠).  Setsumon stated that the kanji 欺 meant “to deceive.” (I feel this is not exactly an explanation, but I do not have any better one for now.)  <The composition of the kanji 欺: 其 and 欠>

The kun-yomi /azamu’ku/ means “to deceive; cheat.” The on-yomi /gi/ is in 詐欺 (“fraud; swindle” /sa’gi/) and 欺瞞 (“deception” /giman/).

In this posting I experimented with a new feature as a study guide – <the composition of the kanji …>. I thought it might give our exploration in ancient writing a better “landing” on the shape we want to learn. That is the goal of our exploration after all.  Because we cannot embed graphics in the middle of a WordPress sentence, I do not know if we can do this with all kanji in the future or not. We shall see how far we can do. Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko [July 15, 2017]

The Kanji 鼎員円損貞偵具敗–貝 (3) “three-legged cooking vessel”

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  1. The kanji 鼎 “three-legged bronze cooking vessel”

History of Kanji 鼎The kanji 鼎 is not a Joyo kanji, but it is the base of many kanji that contain the shape 貝 that meant “three-legged bronze vessel.” It generally had three or four legs at the bottom and two “ears” at the top. It was used to cook various foods together, including sacrificial animal meat. The food in this vessel was prepared to be used as offerings to an ancestral deity. (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, and (c) in bronze ware style, in green, had the features of “ears” and three or four legs. The top of (d) in bronze ware style and (e) in seal style, in red, became 目.

The kun-yomi 鼎 /kanae/ means “three-legged bronze vessel,” and is in the phrase 鼎の軽重を問われる /kanae-no-keechoo-o toware’ru/ means “to have one’s ability called in question.” The on-yomi /tee/ is in 鼎立する (“to be a three-cornered contest” /teeritsu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 員 “number of people; one’s occupation; person”

History of Kanji 員(a) and (b) in oracle bone style and (c) in bronze ware style was a three-or four-legged bronze ware vessel. It was originally used as a counter for such vessels, and later for “number of people” or just “person.” A rounded or square shape at the top was interpreted as a shape of the opening at the top. A three-legged vessel had a rounded opening whereas a four-legged one had a square opening. (e) in seal style kept the opening as a square shape, and the legs became two. The kanji 員 meant “member; staff; people.” It is also used for a word to describe a person’s occupation, or a person who is engaged in that occupation.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /in/ is in 人員 (“number of people or staff” /jin-in/), 会社員 (“company employee” /kaisha’in/), 公務員 (“government employee” /koomu’in/). 事務員 (“administrative staff; clerical worker” /jimu’in/), 満員 (“full house; no vacancy” /man-in/) and 定員 (“seating capacity; quota” /teein/).

  1. The kanji 円 “round; circle”

History of Kanji 円The seal style writing and the kyuji (圓), in blue, had 員, a round top three-legged vessel, inside an enclosure (), which signified something all around. It meant “round; circular.” It is also used for the unit of Japanese currency “Japanese yen.” The shinji is 円. The Japanese currency unit (円 /en/ “Japanese yen”), Chinese currency (元yuan), and Korean currency (wong) all originated from the kanji 圓. Japanese yen’s symbol is ¥, a letter “Y” and an equal sign (=) through it.

The kun-yomi 円 /maru/ is in 円みのある (“rounded” /marumi-no-a’ru/). The on-yomi /en/ is 日本円 (“Japanese yen” /nihon-en/), 百円 (“a hundred yen” /hyaku-en/), 円形 (“round shape; ring shape” /enkee/), 楕円形 (“ellipse; oval” /daenkee/), 円周 (“circumference of a circle” /enshuu/) and 円熟した (“matured; mellowed” /enjuku-shita/).

  1. The kanji 損 “loss”

History of Kanji 損The seal style writing comprised , a bushu tehen “hand; an act that one does using a hand” and 員 “three-legged bronze ware vessel” to cook food for offering to a deity. Together they meant a hand damaging the contents of a pot or, perhaps, one of the legs. (Those bronze ware vessels were extraordinarily heavy, and we can easily imagine that the legs could have been damaged.) The kanji 損 means “to damage; impair; loss.”

The kun-yomi 損なう /sokona’u/ means “to suffer; impair; mar.” Another kun-yomi 損ねる /sokone’ru/ means “to hurt; offend,” as in 気分を損ねる (“to hurt one’s feeling” /ki’bun-o sokone’ru/). It also makes up a verb to mean “failed,” as in やり損ねる (“to fail to do” /yarisokone’ru/). The on-yomi /son/ is in 損害 (“damage; harm” /songai/), 損失 (“loss” /sonshitsu/) and 破損する (“to suffer damage; suffer breakage” /hason-suru/).

  1. The kanji 貞 “right; faithful”

History of Kanji 貞Oracle bone style (a) and (b) was smilar to 員, which was a bronze ware cooking vessel for offerings, and was used phonetically for /tee/ to mean “to inquire about a god’s will; divination.” In bronze ware style (c) and (d) had 卜 “divination” on top of the vessel. It originally meant “to hear the will of a god by divination.” Seeking the god’s will gave the meaning “right; straight; faithful.” The kanji 貞 means “right; upright; faithful.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /tee/ is in 貞淑な “feminine modesty; virtuous” /teeshuku/), 貞操 (“chastity; honor; virtue” /teesoo/) and 貞女 (“virtuous woman; good faithful wife” /teejo/).

  1. The kanji 偵 “scouting; detective work; to investigate secretly”

History of Kanji 偵The seal style writing comprised イ “person” and 貞, which was used phonetially for /tee/ to mean “to listen to deity’s voice; inquire.” Together they meant a person investigating carefully by listening and inquiring. The kanji 貞 means “right; straight; faithful.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /tee/ is in 探偵 (“detective” /tantee/), 偵察 (“scouting; reconnaissance; patroling” /teesatsu/) and 内偵 (“private scouting; secret investigation” /naitee/).

  1. The kanji 具 “contents; be amply provided”

History of Kanji 具(a) in oracle bone style and (b) and (c) in bronze ware style had a bronze ware vessel at the top and two hands held up at the bottom. Together a vessel that was full of offerings of food was held out reverentially with both hands. Two upward hands generally signified reverence or a polite act. Full contents of a vessel gave the meaning “contents” and also “being amply provided.” In (d) in seal style the legs dissappeared. The kanji 具 means “contents; to be amply provided (often in a set).”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /gu/ is in 具 (“topping; main ingredients” /gu/) as in ちらしずしの具 (“toppings for chirashi-zushi” /chirashizu’shi-no gu/), 具体的な (“concrete; specific” /gutaiteki-na/), 道具 (“tool” /doogu/), 家具 (“furniture” /ka’gu/) and 器具 (“equipment” /ki’gu/).

The shapes of the two different origins, “cowrie” and “three-legged bronze ware vessel,” were distinctively different in oracle bone style as well in bronze ware style. It is only seal style that the two merged and became 貝 (except the kanji 鼎).

There is one kanji that I held back from the last week’s article — the kanji 敗.

  1. The kanji 敗 “to lose; loss”

History of Kanji 敗For the kanji 敗 in oracle bone style the right sides of (a) and (b) were the same — “a hand holding a stick,” which signified “to hit; cause an action.” The left sides, however, came from two different origins. (a) was a bronze ware legged cooking vessel to prepare for an offering, whereas (b) was a cowrie. A bronze ware vessel being used for cooking for offering to a deity and a cowrie being used as money signified something valuable. In bronze ware style, (c), the left side had two cowries. Or, could they be two vessels? Then when I compared the bronze ware style writings for a cowrie and those of a legged-bronze ware vessel in other kanji, there appeared to be a difference — a legged bronze ware vessel had short sideways lines, signifying legs of the vessel.  So (c) in 敗 can be interpreted as having two cowries. A valuable cowrie broken in two by a hand meant “loss.” The right side 攴 in (e) became 攵, a bushu bokuzukuri “to do; cause something to happen” in shinji. The kanji 敗 means “loss; to fail.”

The kun-yomi 敗れる /yabure’ru/ means “to lose a fight.” The on-yomi /hai/ is in 勝敗 (“victory and defeat; result of a match” /shoohai/), 敗北 (“defeat” /haiboku/), 失敗する (“to fail; fail; make a mistake” /shippai-suru/), 腐敗する (“to become corrupt; degenerate” /huhai-suru/) and 成敗する (“to punish” /se’ebai-suru/), a slightly archaic word.

The history of the kanji 敗 having both a cowrie and a legged bronze ware vessel in oracle bone style puzzled me a little, and I wondered if there was any significance to it. Another reason why I held back the kanji 敗 from the last post was that I wondered if the double shapes in (c) and another kanji (則) shared the same origin or not. I am inclined to sort the kanji 敗into a sub-group “cowrie” of 貝 for the time being. I shall discuss the double shapes in the kanji 則 in the next post. Thank you very much for your reading. -Noriko [July 2, 2017]