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 量糧両斗料科斜升昇- Food (6)    

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I am planning to discuss various types of measuring tools for grains or liquid in this and the next posts. Needless to say food is important in any civilization at any point of history, but when the primary source of levy was grains the fact that there were a number of kanji to measure food makes sense to me.

  1. The kanji 量 “mass; to measure”

History of Kanji 量In oracle bone style, in brown, in bronze, and in bronze ware style, in brown, the top round shape signified an opening of a bag tied below. It signified a scale to weigh a bag of grain. What was weighed meant “mass; amount.” In Old style, in purple, and seal style, in red, 土 “dirt” was added at the bottom, and the bottom shape became 里. It is similar to the history of kanji such a 重 “heavy” and 動 “to move.” The kanji 量 means “mass, amount.”

The kun-yomi 量る /haka’ru/ means “to measure; weigh.” The on-yomi /ryoo/ is in 量 (“quantity; amount; column” /ryoo/), 分量 (“dose; quantity” /bunryo’o/), 測量 (“location survey; surverying” /sokuryoo/), 重量制限 (“weight limit” /juuryoo-se’egen/), 感慨無量 (“deep emotion; one’s mind is filled with a thousand emotions” /kangai-muryoo/) and 力量 (“ability; power; craftsmanship” /rikiryo’o/).

  1. The kanji 糧 “food; nourishment”

History of Kanji 糧In bronze ware style it had a bag tied in the middle with an opening on top, which was the same as 量 “a scale to measure grains.” The bottom was probably “rice.” Together rice measured meant “food; provisions.” In seal style 米 was placed on the left side of 量 as a bushu komehen. The kanji 糧 means “food; provisions.”

The kun-yomi 糧 /kate’/ means “provisions; food,” as in 心の糧 (“nourishment for one’s mind” /kokoro-no-ka’te/) and 日々の糧 (“earn one’s daily bread” /hi’bi-no-kate/). The on-yomi /ryoo/ is in 食糧 /shokuryoo/) and 食糧自給率 “the food-self-sufficiency rate” /shokuryoo-jikyu’uritsu/).

  1. The kanji 両 “both; two”

History of Kanji 両One view of the origin is that the symmetrical shape was “a scale.” Another takes it as “a gourd split in two with dry seeds inside” and the third one is that it was “a handle of a horse carrier to pull two horses.” The kyuji 兩, (d) in blue, reflected (c) in seal style which had a line at the top. Ryo was a unit of currency in gold before Meiji, based on its weight. It is also used as a counter of train cars in railway. The kanji 両 means “two; double; both; a car of train; ryo (a old unit of currency).”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ryoo/ is in 両方 (“both” /ryoohoo/), 両立する (“to be compatible with ; coexist with” /ryooritsu-suru/), 両面 (“both sides” /ryoomen/), 両親 (“parents” /ryo’oshin/), 両人 (“the two people; couple” /ryo’onin/), 十両編成 (“ten-car train” /juuryoo-he’nsee/), 両替 (“exchange of money” /ryoogae/) and 百両 (“a hundred ryo” /hyaku’ryoo/).

  1. The kanji 斗 “dipper; measuring ladle”

History of Kanji 斗In bronze ware style and seal style it was “a ladle with a handle for scooping rice wine,” and was used phonetically for /to/. It was used as a unit of volume. One to in Japan was 18 liters. The kanji 斗 means “ladle; dipper; measurement unit for liquid.”

The kun-yomi /masu’/ means “a dipper,” and it is in 北斗七星 (“the Great Bear; the Big Dipper” /hokuto-shichi’see/)and 漏斗 (“funnel” /ro’oto/).

  1. The kanji 料 “food; fee; provisions”

History of Kanji 料In bronze ware style it is comprised of “rice grains” (米) and “a measuring ladle” (斗). Together they meant “measured amount of food.” An official measure food to charge a fee. The kanji 料 means “to measure; food; fee; provisions.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ryoo/ is in 料金 (“fee; charge; fair” /ryo’okin/), 手数料 (“handling fee” /tesu’uryoo/), 入場料 (“admission fee” /nyuujo’oryoo/), 無料 (“free of charge” /muryoo/), 送料 (“sending fee; postage” /sooryo’o/), 有料 (“charge; fee” /yuuryoo/), 料亭 (“Japanese style restaurant” /ryootee/).

  1. The kanji 科 “section; department; charge; penalty; conviction”

History of Kanji 科The seal style writing comprised “a rice plant” (禾), which became a bushu nogihen in kanji, and “a measuring ladle” (斗). Various types of grains such as rice were sorted out using a measuring ladle and were classified. It meant “classification; section; department.” Authorities also measured an appropriate amount of fee and penalty, and it meant “to charge a penalty; conviction.” The kanji 科 means “section; department; charge; penalty; conviction.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ka/ is in 科学 (“sicence” /ka’gaku/), 科学者 (“scientist” /kaga’kusha/), 眼科医 (“an ophthalmologist; eye specialist” /ganka’i/), 科目 (“subject” /kamoku/) and 前科 (“criminal records” /ze’nka/).

  1. The kanji 斜 “diagonal; slanted”

History of Kanji 斜The seal style writing comprised 余, which was used phonetically for /yo; sha/, and 斗 “a measuring ladle.” When one scoops liquid using a ladle, the ladle is held diagonally. From that the kanji 斜 means “diagonal; slanted.”

The kun-yomi 斜め /nana’me/ means “diagonal; slanted.” The on-yomi /sha/ is in 斜線 (“oblique line” /shasen/), 傾斜する (“to incline” /keesha-suru/), 斜面 (“slope” /sha’men/) and 斜陽産業 (“declining industry” /shayoosa’ngyoo/).

  1. The kanji 升 “dipper; measuring ladle”

History of Kanji 升In the two oracle bone style writings we can see grains or liquid that this measuring ladle was scooping up. It is very similar to 斗. In bronze ware style a dot inside the cup still signified that it was not empty. 4 in seal style the three diagonal lines was simplified to one in kanji 升. One sho was 1.8 liters. The kanji 升 means “sho,” a pre-metric measurement system for liquid.

The kun-yomi 升 /masu/ means “box; private seating section.” The on-yomi /shoo/ is in 一升 (1.8 liters)

  1. The kanji 昇 “to rise; ascend”

There is no ancient writing. The seal style writing comprised 日 “sun,” and the bottom 升 was used phonetically for /shoo/ to mean “rise.” Together the kanji 昇 meant “to rise; ascend.”

The kun-yomi 昇る /noboru/ means “to rise; ascend.” The on-yomi /shoo/ is in 上昇する (“to soar” /jooshoo-suru/), 昇華する (“to sublimate” /shooka-suru/), 昇天 (“ascension; death” /shooten/) and昇進 (“promotion; move up” /shooshin/).

There is one more shape that describes a measuring apparatus that I would like to explore. We shall start the next posting with that. Thank you very much for your reading. — Noriko [September 23, 2017]

The Kanji 酒配酎酵酷酌酬醜酔醒酢酸- Food (4) 酉

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In this post we are going to look at the kanji 酒配酎酵酷酌酬醜酔醒酢酸 that contains 酉 “a rice wine cask.”

History of Kanji 酉The common component 酉 here is not a Joyo kanji. In all of the ancient writings shown on the right – (a) in oracle bone style, in brown, (b) and (c) in bronze ware style, in green, and (d) seal style, in red, – was “a rice wine cask” or “a cask to keep fermented liquid in.” So all the kanji that we are going to look at pertain to “fermentation” at one stage of the history.

The writing 酉 is used in the 12 Chinese zodiac signs, but, as with the rest of the 12 zodiac signs, the kanji was chosen arbitrarily and had no relation to its meaning. By itself it is pronounced /tori/, and is in 酉年 (“the year of chicken” /toridoshi/). Just a reminder — The kanji for “west” 西 has one stroke fewer, and is not related to this kanji.

  1. The kanji 酒 “alcohol beverage; rice wine; sake

History of Kanji 酒2In oracle bone style (a), “a rice wine cask” was on the left and “water; liquid” on the right. In bronze ware style (b), (c) and (d) “a rice wine cask” was standing alone but the small dots in (c) were pointing out its contents rather than the cask as a container. Together they meant “rice wine.” In (e) in seal style “water; liquid” was separately added to a wine cask, possibly signifying that it was the liquid from which sake lees had been removed. The kanji 酒 means “rice wine; fermented drink; alcohol beverage.”   <The composition of the kanji 酒: 氵and 酉>

The kun-yomi /sake/ means “Japanese rice wine; sake; alcohol beverage,” and is in 酒粕 (“sake lees” /sakekasu/), which is used for cooking as well. /-Zake/ is in 寝酒 (“nightcap” /nezake/), 甘酒 (“sweet sake lee drink” /amaza’ke/) and 居酒屋 (“pub; bar; tavern” /izakaya/).  /Saka-/ is in 酒屋 (“liquor store; alcohol beverage shop” /sakaya/), 酒盛り (”drinking party; drinking bout” /sakamori/). The on-yomi /shu/ is in 日本酒 (“Japanese rice wine” /nihonshu/) and 葡萄酒 (“(grape) wine” /budo’oshu/).

  1. The kanji 配 “to distribute; hand out; arrange”

History of Kanji 配(a) in oracle bone style, (b) and (c) in bronze ware style and (d) in seal style all comprised “a wine cask” on the left and “a squatting person looking at the cask.” He was waiting for rice wine to be handed out to him. It means “to hand out; deal.” In (d) in seal style and kanji 配, the person took the shape 己 “a squatting person; a person.” The kanji 配 means “to distribute; to hand out; to arrange.”  <The composition of the kanji 配: 酉 and 己>

The kun-yomi 配る /kuba’ru/ means “to deliver; deal.” The on-yomi /hai/ is in 配達 (“delivery of goods/food” /haitatsu/), 配分する (“to allocate; distribute” /haibun-suru/), 手配する (“to arrange; provide for” /te’hai-suru/), 配当金 (“divined” /haitookin/). /-Pai/ is in 心配 (“worry” /shinpai/). /-Bai/ is in 軍配 (“an umpire’s fan” in a sumo match /gunbai/).

  1. The kanji 酎 “distilled liquor; flavorful three-time filtered liquor”

History of Kanji 酎The seal style writing comprised 酉 “a rice wine cask,” and 寸 “a hand,” which was used phonetically for /chuu/. Together they meant “flavorful wine that was filtered three times.” The kanji 酎 means “flavorful rice wine.”  <The composition of the kanji 酎: 酉 and 寸>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /chuu/ is in 焼酎 (“white liquor; Japanese distilled liquor made of potato” /shoochu’u/).

  1. The kanji 酵 “yeast; fermentation”

There is no ancient writing. The kanji 酵 had 酉 “a rice wine cask” on the left. The right side 孝 “filial duty” (with 耂, a bushu “old person”) was used phonetically for /koo/, perhaps suggesting a long time to ferment. Together they meant “yeast” that made fermented wine or “fermentation.” The kanji 酵 means “fermentation; yeast.”  <The composition of the kanji 酵: 酉 and 孝 >

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /koo/ is in 発酵する (“to ferment” /hakkoo-suru/), 酵母 (“yeast” /ko’obo/) and 酵素 (“enzyme” /ko’oso/).

  1. The kanji 酷 “cruel”

History of Kanji 酷The seal style writing comprised 酉 “a rice wine cask,” and 告, which was used phonetically for /koku/. Together they meant “intense taste of alcohol.” From that the kanji 酷 means “intense; cruel; harsh.” The phrase  酷のある /koku-no-a’ru/ “full-bodied; robust” is usually written in katakana コク nowadays.   <The composition of the kanji 酷: 酉 and 告>

The kun-yomi 酷い /mugo’i/ means “cruel.” The on-yomi /koku/ is in 残酷な (“cruel; extremely harsh” /zankoku-na/), 酷暑 (“severe heat of summer” /ko’kusho/) and 酷使する (“to drive someone work hard; strain oneself” /ko’kushi-suru/).

  1. The kanji 酌 “to serve wine; scoop out sake”

History of Kanji 酌The seal style writing comprised 酉 “a rice wine cask,” and 勺 “a ladle scooping up,” which was used phonetically for /shaku/. Together they meant “a ladle scooping up wine.” The kanji 酌 means “to serve wine; scoop out sake.”  <The composition of the kanji 酌: 酉 and 勺>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /shaku/ is in お酌する (“to fill someone else’s sake cup” /oshaku-suru/), 晩酌 (“evening dinner-time drink” /banshaku/), 媒酌人 (“matchmaker” at a wedding /baishakunin/) and 酌量 (“consideration” /shakuryoo/).

  1. The kanji 酬 “reply; reward; fee”

History of Kanji 酬In seal style (a) and (b) had 酉 “a rice wine cask” on the left. The right side of (a), 寿 (the kyuji 壽) “long life; auspicious,” was used phonetically for /shuu/. Together they originally meant “to offer a drink of wine to a guest.” Later it meant “to reply; reward.” In (b) 壽 was replaced by the phonetically same 州 /shuu/. The kanji 酬 is also used for “fee.”  <The composition of the kanji 酬: 酉 and 州>

The kun-yomi 酬いる /mukui’ru; mukuiru/ means “to reward.” The on-yomi /shuu/ is in 応酬する (“to make a sharp retort; reply” /ooshuu-suru/) and 報酬 (“reward; fee” /hooshuu/).

  1. The kanji 醜 “ugly”

History of Kanji 醜The seal style writing comprised 酉 “a rice wine cask,” which was used phonetically for /shuu/. The right side was 鬼 “spirit of a deceased; ghost,” which had a frightfully ugly face and ム “a floating spirit.” Together they meant “ugly; mean-spirited; shameful.” <The composition of the kanji 醜: 酉 and 鬼>

The kun-yomi /miniku’i/ means “ugly; shameful.”  The on-yomi /shuu/ is in 醜聞 (“scandal; malicious gossip” /shuubun/) and 醜悪な (“unsightly” /shuuaku-na/).

  1. The kanji 酔 “to become drunk; be intoxicated”

History of Kanji 酔The seal style writing comprised 酉 “a rice wine cask,” and 卒 “to end,” which was used phonetically for /sui/. Together they meant “to drink rice wine to finish off” – thus “to be drunk.” The kyuji 醉, in blue, reflected seal style, but in shinji 酔 the right side 卒 was replaced by 卆. The kanji 酔 means “to become drunk; get inebriated on sake; be intoxicated.”  <The composition of the kanji 酔: 酉 and 卆>

The kun-yomi 酔う /yo’u/ means “to become drunk; become intoxicated,” and is in 船酔い (“seasickness” /hunayoi/), and 酔っ払い (“a drunken man; drunk” /yopparai/). The on-yomi /sui/ is in 心酔する (“to adore; be fascinated by” /shinsui-suru/),  酔狂な (“eccentric; whimsical” /su’ikyoo-na/), 麻酔 (“anesthesia” /masui/) and 陶酔する (“to be intoxicated; be fascinated” /toosui-suru/).

  1. The kanji 醒 “to awaken; have clear awareness”

History of Kanji 醒The seal style writing comprised 酉 “a rice wine cask,” and 星, which was used phonetically for /see/. Together they meant “to sober up from being drunk,” that is “to awaken; have clear awareness.” The kanji 醒 means “to awaken; have clear awareness.” <The composition of the kanji 醒: 酉and 星>

The kun-yomi 醒める /same’ru/ means “to become awake.” The on-yomi /see/ is in 覚醒剤 (“psychostimulant; stimulant drug” /kakuse’ezai/). It is a strange use of this kanji.

  1. The kanji 酢 “vinegar”

History of Kanji 酢The two bronze ware style writings had “a cask of fermented liquid” (酉), and 乍, which was used phonetically for /saku/ to mean “something past,” which is related to the kanji 昨. Rice wine that went bad is vinegar. The kanji 酢 means “vinegar.”  <The composition of the kanji 醒: 酉 and 星>

The kun-yomi 酢 /su/ means “vinegar,” 酢豚 (“sweet and sour pork” /su’buta/) and is in 酢の物 (“a vinegared dish” /suno’mono/). The on-yomi /saku/ is in 酢酸 (“acetic acid” /sakusan/).

  1. The kanji 酸 “sour; acid”

History of Kanji 酸The seal style writing comprised 酉 “a wine cask,” and 夋, which was used phonetically for /san/ to mean “sour.” When wine goes bad it becomes sour. The kanji means “acidic; sour.” <The composition of the kanji 酸: 酉 and 夋>

The kun-yomi 酸っぱい /suppa/i/ means “sour” and is in 甘酸っぱい (/amazuppa’i/ “sweet and sour”). The on-yomi /san/ is in 酸素 (“oxygen” /sa’nso/), 酸性 (“acidity” /sansee/), 塩酸 (“hydrochloric acid” /ensan/), 酸化する(“to oxidize” /sanka-suru/), 炭酸飲料水 (“carbonated drink” /tansan-inryo’osui/) and 乳酸菌 (“lactic acid bacteria” /nyuusankin/).

Among the kanji we did not look at in this post include 醤油 (“soy sauce” /shooyu’/), which is a seasoning liquid that was made of soy beans with yeast (酵母), and the kyuji 醫 for 医, which had 酉 at the bottom as sake to cleanse an arrow wound. We have also looked at 醸 “fermentation” in an earlier post.

When we look at any of the kanji 酒配酎酵酷酌酬醜酔醒酢酸 in isolation, it may appear to have a complex shape. Once we understand the meaning of the common component 酉, however, it reduces our task to just focusing on the other component, which is likely a component we have studied already in other kanji. So, it becomes a matter of comparing simpler shapes and adding “fermentation” to it. That is the advantage of learning kanji by common components, or bushu in a larger sense. — Sorry for my pitch. I know that our regular readers need no such reminder. The old habit of a classroom teacher stating the obvious is hard to lose.  Thank you very much for your reading.  -Noriko [September 9, 2017]

The Kanji 即既憤概・会曽増層憎僧贈- Food (2)

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Last week we started exploring kanji that originated food and kitchen, etc. In this second article, two groups of kanji are looked at: The first group is 即既慨概, which contained “food in a raised bowl.” In addition to that three of them contained 旡 “someone with full stomach.” The second group – 会曽層増憎僧贈 – came from “layers in a food steamer” for its meaning and sound.

  1. The kanji 即 “immediate; to accede to the throne; namely”

History of Kanji 即For the kanji 即 in (a) in oracle bone style, in brown, (b) and (c) in bronze ware style, in green, and (d) in seal style, in red, the left side was “food in a raised bowl,” and the right side was “a person about to take a seat to eat.” A person about to do something gave the meaning “at once; immediately.” The sense of immediacy was also used to mean “accession to a throne” (it happens immediately after a predecessor’s death). The kyuji 卽, (e) in blue, comprised 皀 (often explained as “a bowl of food” and “a spoon” (ヒ)), and 卩 “a kneeling person.” In shinji the left side became the bottom of a bushu shokuhen. The kanji 即 means “immediate; instance; to accede to the throne; namely.”

The kun-yomi 即ち /suna’wachi/ means “namely; just; precisely.” The on-yomi /soku/ is in 即時 (“immediate; prompt” /so’kuji/), 即位 (“enthrone” /so’kui/), 即席 (“instant; impromptu” /sokuseki/), 即興 (“improvised amusement” /sokkyoo/) and 即死 (“instant death” /sokushi/).

  1. The kanji 既 “already”

History of Kanji 既For the kanji 既, in (a) and (b) in oracle bone style a person who knelt down in front of food was turning his face away from the food to indicate that he had had enough food. His open mouth is interpreted as belching because of his full stomach. “Having finished eating” gave the meaning “already.” In (c) in bronze ware style and (d) in seal style the two components swapped the positions. In (d) the right side was the reversed shape of 欠 in seal style and became 旡 /ki/ in kanji to mean “full of.” (The kanji 欠 “lack of” and 旡 “full of” had a reverse meaning of each other” in its origin.) The kanji 既 means “already; to be finished.”

The kun-yomi 既に /su’deni/ means “already.” The on-yomi /ki/ is in 既存の (“existing” /kison-no/), 既出 (“aforementioned; previously covered” /kishutsu/), 既婚 (“married” /kikon/), 既製服 (“ready-made clothes; off-the shelf clothing” /kise‘ehuku/), 既成事実 (“an established fact” /kiseeji’jitsu/) and 皆既日食 (“total solar eclipse” /kaiki-ni’sshoku/).

  1. The kanji 慨 “to lament; deplore; grieve over”

FHistory of Kanji 慨or the kanji 慨, the seal style writing comprised “heart,” and 既 “a person looking backward with an open mouth.” A heart full of emotions signified “to lament; grieve over,” and was used phonetically for /gai/. The kanji 慨 means “to lament; deplore; grieve over.”

The on-yomi /gai/  is in 憤慨 (“resentment; indignation” /hungai/) and 感慨 (“strong feelings; deep emotion” /kangai/).

  1. The kanji 概 “roughly; in general”

History of Kanji 概For the kanji 概, in the seal style writing the top 既 was used phonetically for /gai/, and the bottom meant 木 “tree; wood.” Together they originally meant “a wooden strickle – a rod to level off a heaped measure.” Leveling off grains indicated “roughly equal.” The kanji 概 means “roughly; in general.”

The on-yomi /gai/ is in 大概 (“almost; mostly; for the most part; probably; all probability” /taigai/), 概説 (“a rough summary; a rough sketch; brief account” /gaisetsu/), 概観 (“general view; general survey” /gaikan/ and 概要 (“outline; summary; resume” /gaiyoo/).

  1. The kanji 会 “to meet”

History of Kanji 会For the kanji 会 the oracle bone style writing comprised “a crossroad” (彳), “a container with a lid” (合), signifying “to fit; meet,” and “a footprint” at the bottom. Together they meant “to go on foot to meet (someone).” In bronze ware style and seal style it had “a food steamer with a lid with layers of steaming trays” and “a cooking stove” at the bottom. The crossroad disappeared. The kyuji 會 reflected seal style. The shinji 会 is the simplified form with 云 (a shape that is used in place of a complex shape) under 𠆢 “a cover.” The kanji 会 means “to meet; meeting; association.”

The kun-yomi 会う /a’u/ means “ to meet,” and is in 出会う (“to encounter” /dea’u/). The on-yomi /kai/ is in 会合 (“meeting” /kaigoo/), 会議 (“conference; meeting” /ka’igi/), 会計 (“accounts; bill; check” /kaikee/), 会話 (“conversation” /kaiwa/) and in the expression 会心の笑み (“smile of satisfaction” /kaishin-no-e-mi’/). nother on-yomi /e/ is in 会釈 (“a bow” /e’shaku/) and会得する (“to grasp; understand” /etoku-suru/).

  1. The kanji 曽 “formerly; great-grand (father)”

History of Kanji 曽For the kanji 曽, (a) and (b) in bronze ware style was “a steamer” from which steam was rising (八) at the top. A steamer had layers of trays or baskets, and from that it meant “to layer; layered.” The kyuji 曾, (d), reflected (c) in seal style, and became simplified to 曽 in shinji, changing ハ to a truncated ソ, 田 and曰. It was also borrowed to mean “once; on one occasion; formerly” or “three generations ago.” The kanji 曽 means “to lay something on top of another; formerly.”

The kun-yomi /katu/ is in 曽て (“formerly; once” /ka’tsute/). The on-yomi /soo/ is in 曽祖父 (“great-grandfather” /sooso-hu/) and曾孫 (“great-grandchild” /sooson/).

  1. The kanji 層 “layer”

History of Kanji 層For the kanji 層 the seal style comprised 尸 , a bushu shikabane “roof,” and 曾 “layers; to add” and was used phonetically for /soo/. Something in multiple levels meant “stratum.” It is also used for “class of people.” The kyuji 層, 2, reflected 1. The kanji 層 means “layer; stratum.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /soo/ is in 層になる (“to become the layer” /so’o-ni-naru/), 断層 (“fault; dislocation; a gap; difference” /dansoo/) and 階層 (“class; rank; level in society” /kaisoo/).

  1. The kanji 増 “to increase; add”

History of Kanji 増For the kanji 増the seal style writing comprised 土 “dirt; soil,” and 曾 “layer; to add,” which was used phonetically for /soo/. Together adding soil to existing layers meant “to increase.” The kyuji 增, 2, was simplified to 増. The kanji 増 means “to add; increase.”

The kun-yomi 増す /masu/ means “to increase.”  Another kun-yomi /huya’su/ 増やす (transitive verb) and 増える /hue’ru/ (intransitive verb) are “to increase; add.” The on-yomi /zoo/ is 増加 (“increase” /zooka/), 増水 (“the rise of a river; flooding” /zoosui/), 倍増 (“redoubling” /baizoo/) and 増長する (“to grow impudent; become presumptuous; be puffed up (with pride)” /zoochoo-suru/).

  1. The kanji 憎 “to hate”

History of Kanji 憎For the kanji 憎 the seal style writing comprised “heart,” which became , a bushu risshinben, and 曾 “layers; to add,” which was used phonetically for /zoo/. Together “certain emotions that accumulated” gave the meaning “hate.” The kyuji 憎, 2, became shinji 憎. The kanji 憎 means “to hate; detest; abhor; hateful.”

The kun-yomi 憎む /niku’mu/ means “to hate,” and is in 憎しみ (“hatred; animosity; bad blood” /nikushimi/) and 憎い (“detestable; annoying; fantastic; remarkable” /niku’i/). The on-yomi /zoo/ is in 憎悪 (“hatred” /zo’oo/) and 愛憎 (“love and hatred” /aizoo/).

  1. The kanji 僧 “monk”

History of Kanji 僧For the kanji 僧 the seal style writing comprised “a person,” and 曾, which was used phonetically for /soo/. The writing was used as a phonetic rendition of the Buddhism word sampha in Sanskrit. The kanji 僧 means “monk; priest.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /soo/ is in 僧侶 (“monk” /so’oryo/).

  1. The kanji 贈 “to give; present”

History of Kanji 贈For the kanji 贈 the seal style writing comprised 貝 “cowry” signifying “valuable; monetary value,” and 曾 “layers; to add,” which was used phonetically for /soo; zoo/. Giving a present was an act of one conferring or giving a valuable item to another person. The kyuji 贈, 2, was simplified to 贈. The kanji 贈 means “to give; present.”

The kun-yomi 贈る /okuru/ means “to give (a gift).” The on-yomi /zoo/ is in 贈答品 (“gift” /zootoohin/) and 寄贈する (“to contribute; donate” /kazoo-suru/).

The second group会曽層増憎僧贈 is rather straight forward — The common component (曽) was used phonetically for /so; soo; zoo/ as well as to mean “to add; layer.” With , a bushu shikabane 層 means “stratum; level”; with 土, a bushu tsushiben 増 means “to add”; with, a bushu risshinben, 憎 means “hatred”; with イ, a bushu ninben, 僧 means “monk”; and with 貝means a bushu kaihen “to give a present,” and even in kanji会, with 𠆢, a bushu hitoyane 會, in kyuji.

There are many more kanji that originated from things in kitchen and we shall be exploring them in the next few postings.  Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko [August 26, 2017]

The Kanji 食飯餓館飽飾飲餌養 – Food (1)

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食と食へんThe new area of topics we are going to explore in the this and next several postings is around a kitchen, cooking, measuring, etc. We start kanji with a bushu shokuhen “eating; food” – 食飯餓館飽飾飲餌養. A bushu shokuhen has one stroke fewer than the kanji 食, as shown on the right. We shall also see that not all the kanji with a bushu shokuhen originated from 食.

  1. The kanji 食 “to eat; meal”

History of Kanji 食For the kanji 食, in (a), (b) and (c) in oracle bone style, in brown, it was “food in a raised bowl with a lid.” (b) had the dotted lines on both sides. I am unable to find the account for this in reference, but I am wondering if they signified that there was so much food that it was spilling over. It meant “food; to eat.” (d), in green, was in bronze ware style. In seal style (e), in red, some scholars analyze it as 皀 with 𠆢 — “a cover” (𠆢), “food” (白) and “a spoon; ladle” (ヒ). The kanji 食 means “to eat; food.”  <The composition of the kanji: 𠆢 and 良>

The kun-yomi 食べる /tabe’ru/ means “to eat,” and is in 食べ物 (“food” /tabe’mono/). Another kun-yomi 食う /ku’u/ has many uses — 食う (/ku’u/ “to eat” – a male speaker’s style; or used for an animal), 電池を食う (“to use up battery” /de’nchi-o ku’u/), 足止めを食う or 食らう (“to be prevented leaving” /ashidome-o-ku’u; kura’u/), 虫が食う (“to be eaten by worms” /mushi-ga-ku’u/), 食い止める (“to stop; hold back” /kuitome’ru/), 食ってかかる (“to go at someone; lash out at someone” /ku’ttekakaru/) and 食い違う (“do not match; go wrong” /kuichigau/). The on-yomi /shoku/ is in 食事 (“meal” /shokuji/), 朝食 (“breakfast” /chooshoku/), 食材 (“food; ingredients” /shokuzai/), 粗食 (“plain food” /soshoku/), 食料品 (“foodstuffs; groceries” /shokuryoohin/) and 給食 (“school lunch” /kyuushoku/).

  1. The kanji 飯 “cooked rice; meal”

History of Kanji 飯For the kanji 飯, in bronze ware style and seal style it comprised “food in a raised bowl with a lid,” and 反, which was used phonetically for /han/. Together they originally meant “cooked grains such as rice and millet.” The kanji 飯 means “cooked rice; meal.” <The composition of the kanji 飯: a bushu shokuhen and 反>

The kun-yomi 飯 /meshi’/ means (“mea” /meshi’/ by a male speaker), and is in 昼飯 (“lunch” /hirumeshi/ by a male speaker), 握り飯 (“rice ball” /nigirimeshi/) and 朝飯前 (“piece of cake; snap” /asamashima’e/). The on-yomi /han/ is in (お)赤飯 (“steamed sticky rice with red azuki beans” for a celebratory meal /oseki’han/ or /sekihan/), 炊飯器 (“(electric) rice cooker” /suiha’nki/), 五目ご飯 (“rice cooked with a few other ingredients” /gomoku-go’han/) and in the expression 日常茶飯事 (“daily occurrence” /nichijoosaha’nji/). /-Pan/ is in 残飯 (“leftovers from a meal” /zanpa’n/).

  1. The kanji 餓 “to starve”

History of Kanji 餓For the kanji 餓, the seal style writing comprised “food in a raised bowl with a lid,” and 我, which was used phonetically for /ga/ to mean “to starve.” The kanji 餓 means “to starve.” A few postings ago, we looked at another kanji that meant “to starve” – the kanji 飢. The kanji 飢 focuses on lack of food (such as in famine).   <The composition of the kanji 餓: a bushu shokuhen and 我>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ga/ is in 飢餓 (“starvation” /ki’ga/), 餓死 (“death due to starvation” /ga’shi/) and 餓鬼 (“imp” /ga’ki/; “young mischievous kid; brat” spoken by a male speaker” /gaki’/).

4. The kanji 館 “building; large house”

History of Kanji 館For the kanji 館, the seal style writing had “food in a raised bowl with a lid” (食), and 官 “a place where military officers stay,” which was used phonetically for /kan/. Together they originally meant “a place where many people gather and eat.” The kanji 館 means “a large building; mansion.”  <The composition of the kanji 館: a bushu shokuhen and 官>

The kun-yomi 館 /yataka/ means “a mansion; a large house.” The on-yomi /kan/ is in 旅館(“Japanese-style inn” /ryokan/), 会館 (“hall; clubhouse; building” /kaikan/), 図書館 (“library” /tosho’kan/), 大使館 (“embassy” /taishi’kan/) and 水族館 (“aquarium” /suizoku’kan/).

  1. The kanji 飽 “to grow tired; weary; be fed up; full”

History of Kanji 飽For the kanji 飽, in Old style the left side of (a), in purple, had “a covered bowl of food.” The right side had “a hand” over “a baby.” Together they meant “feeding a baby to full stomach.” The top of (b) is not clear, but it could be two doors to an altar, and (b) means “to offer food to satisfy a god.” In seal style in (c) the right side was replaced by 包 “to wrap up completely,” from a baby in mother’s womb, and was used phonetically for /hoo/ to mean “full.” After eating much food one’s stomach was full. With too much of anything one gets weary of. The kanji 飽 means “to become tired of; be saturated; weary; full.”  <The composition of the kanji 飽: a bushu shokuhen and 包>

The kun-yomi 飽きる /aki’ru/ means “to grow weary of; become tired of.” It is in 飽きが来る (“to grow tired of” /aki’ga-kuru/), 飽き足らない (“unsatisfying” /akitaranai/), 聞き飽きた (“I got tired of hearing it” /kikia’kita/) and 飽くまで (“to the bitter end; to the last; stubbornly” /aku’made/). The on-yomi /hoo/ is in 飽和 (“saturation” /hoowa/).

  1. The kanji 飾 “to decorate”

History of Kanji 飾For the kanji 飾, the left side of the seal style writing had 食 “food in a raised bowl with a lid” and 人 “person” on the right top, and 巾 “cloth” at the bottom. Together they meant “a person in front of a bowl of food wiping the bowl with a piece of cloth.” It meant “to make it clean or pretty.” The kanji 飾 meant “to decorate; embellish.”  <The composition of the kanji 飾: a bushu shokuhen, a short ノ, 一 and 巾>

The kun-yomi 飾る /kazaru/ means “to decorate,” and is in 髪飾り(“hair accessory” /kamika’zari/), 飾り付け (“decoration” /kazaritsuke/) and 着飾る (“to dress up” /kikazaru/). The on-yomi /shoku/ is in 修飾語 (“modifier” in grammar /shuushokugo/), 服飾デザイナー (“dress designer” /hukushoku-deza’inaa/) and 粉飾決算 (“fraudulent account; window dressing settlement” /hunshoku-ke’ssan/).

In the next three kanji – 飲餌養, the bushu shokuhen originated from something other than “food in a raised bowl with a lid.”

  1. The kanji 飲 “to drink; swallow”

History of Kanji 飲For the kanji 飲, in oracle bone style (a) had “a person trying to drink wine from a large wine cask.” If we look at (a) closely, the tongue was a forked shape, as was in the ancient writings of the kanji 舌 “tongue,” indicating eating. It meant “to drink (wine).” (b) in oracle bone style was a large wine cask (酉) with a stopper at the top. The left side of (c) and (d) in bronze ware style and (e) in seal style had a wine cask with a stopper. The right side was a person trying to drink or opening his mouth wide. In the kyuji 飮, (f) in blue, the cask was replaced by a bushu shokuhen “to eat; food.” The reason could be that a bushu 酉 was primarily used for fermented liquid and the kanji 飲 is more inclusive of liquids and food that one drinks or swallows without chewing. The kanji 飲 meant “to drink; swallow.”  <The composition of the kanji 飲: a bushu shokuhen and 欠 >

The kun-yomi 飲む /no’mu/ means “to drink; swallow,” and is in 飲み込む (“to swallow; understand” /nomiko’mu/), 飲み込みがいい (“quick to comprehend” /nomikomi-ga-ii/), 飲食店 (“restaurant” /inshoku’ten/), 飲料水 (“drinking water” /inryo’osui/) and 誤飲 (“drinking or swallowing by mistake” /goin/).

  1. The kanji 餌 “bait; feed”

History of Kanji 餌For the kanji 餌, the two seal style writings, (a) and (b), had totally different shapes. (a) was “a vessel to keep grains” (鬲) with 耳 on top, which was used phonetically for /ji/ to mean “flour dumpling.” Together they originally meant “steamed dumpling.” (b) had “food on a raised bowl with a lid” on the left side, and 耳 “ear,” which was used phonetically for /ji/. The kanji 餌 means “animal feed; bait; lure.”  <The composition of the kanji 餌: a bushu shokuhen and 耳>

The kun-yomi 餌 (“bait; lure; animal feed” /esa’; e’/), and is in 餌付ける (“to feed (to domesticate)” /ezuke’ru/) and 餌食になる (“to become a victim” /e’jiki-ni-naru/). The on-yomi /ji/ is not on the Joyo kanji list.

  1. The kanji 養 “to support; nourish; foster”

History of Kanji 養For the kanji 養, (a) in oracle bone style and (b) and (c) in bronze ware style had a sheep on the left, which was used phonetically for /yoo/ to mean “to feed.” The right side was “a stick held by a hand,” signifying “action.” Together they signified sheep farming. The right side would have become 攴 in kanji, but in seal style, (d), the kanji 食 “to eat; food” replaced it. The kanji 養 means “to support (by providing food); nourish; foster.”  <The composition of the kanji 養: 羊 with a short last stroke, 八 and 良>   (P. S. — Actually (a) was “a cow; ox,” judging from the shape of the horns. August 20, 2017)

Other kanji such as 飼 “to keep animal,” 飢 “to starve” and 餅 “rice cake” do not have ancient writing and are phonetic-semantic kanji, in which a bushu shokuhen signified “food.”

In this posting we have seen in all the kanji that a bushu shokuhen, which is one stroke fewer than the kanji 食, pertains to food, eating or drinking.  Some kanji even did not contain 食 in earlier writings, but for the meaning of “food; eating” a bushu shokuhen took over as a semantic feature.  We shall continue exploring the topic around food preparation and eating in the next several postings. Thank you very much for your reading. – Noriko [August 19, 2017]

The Kanji 将奨状壮荘装床 – “table” (3) 爿   

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This is the third post on kanji that originated from “a table.” We are going to explore a table with two legs that were placed vertically – 爿.  The kanji in this post are 将奨状壮荘装 and 床.

  1. The kanji 将 “military leader; immediate future”

History of Kanji 将For the kanji 将, in bronze ware style, in green, it had爿”a vertically placed two-legged table,” 月 “a piece of meat,” and 刀 “a knife.” Together they signified placing the offering of sacrificial animal meat on an altar table right before a battle. The person who conducted the rite was a military leader – thus it meant “military leader; general.” It was conducted right before embarking on a battle – thus it meant “immediate future.” In seal style, in red, and the kyuji 將, in blue, the bottom became 寸 “hand.” In shinji 将, the legs of the table were simplified to a ハ shape, vertically placed, and the piece of meat was replaced by “a hand with fingers showing from above.” The kanji 将 means “a military leader; general; immediate future.”  <the composition of the kanji 将: the reduced shape of 爿, a small ノ, a truncated ツ and 寸>

The kun-yomi /ma’sa/ is in 将に (“just; precisely” /ma’sa-ni/), not included in Joyo kanji kun-reading. The on-yomi /sho’o/ is in 将軍 (“general; shogunate in Japanese history” /shogun/), 大将 (“admiral; general; chief” /ta’ishoo/), 将校 (“commissioned officer” /sho’okoo/), 主将 (“captain” /shushoo/) and 将来 (“near future” /sho’orai/).

  1. The kanji 奨 “to urge; commend; encourage”

History of Kanji 奨For the kanji 奨 the seal style writing had a vertically placed  table (爿), “ a piece of meat” (月), which was used phonetically for 將 /shoo/, and “dog” (犬) at the bottom right. Together they meant “to recommend; encourage.” The role of a dog is not clear, but some scholars view it that “setting a dog on” gave the meaning “to instigate; encourage.” (Personally I do not feel this explanation sits well.) In the kyuji 奬 the bottom was replaced by 大 “person.” (In many of the kanji that contained 犬 “a dog” in ancient writing, it lost the short stroke, and became 大 “person” or “big.”) The kanji 奨 means “to urge; commend; encourage.” <the composition of the kanji 奨: 将 and 大>

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /sho’o/ is in 奨励する (“to give encouragement to; promote” /suishoo-suru/), 推奨する (“to recommend; endorse”) and 奨学金 (“scholarship; stipend” /shoogakukin/).

  1. The kanji 状 “state; condition; letter”

History of Kanji 状For the kanji 状 the seal style writing comprised “a vertically placed table” (爿), which was used phonetically for /joo/, and “a dog” (犬). For this kanji Setsumon explained it as “the shape of a dog.” It meant “shapes; conditions.” One reported the condition of a matter by a letter, thus it also meant “letter; a piece of paper.” The kanji 状 means “state; condition; letter.”  <the composition of the kanji 状: the reduced shape of 爿 and 犬>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /joo/ is in 状態 (“condition” /jootai/), 状況 (“situation” /jookyoo/), 白状する (“to confess” /ha’kujoo-suru/), 状差し (“letter holder” /joosa’shi/), 紹介状 (“letter of introduction” /shookaijoo/), 令状 (“warrant” /reejoo/) and 礼状 (“thank you letter” /reejoo/).

  1. The kanji 壮 “grand; manly; strong”

History of Kanji 壮For the kanji 壮 the seal style writing comprised 爿 “a table with legs that was placed vertically” and was used phonetically for /shoo; soo/.  The right side 士, “man; warrior,” came from an ceremonial axe to signify that a man belongs to the “warrior class.” Together they meant “grand; manly; strong.”  <the composition of the kanji 壮: a reduced shape of 爿 and 士>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /soo/ is in 壮大な (“grand; magnificent /soodai-na/). 勇壮な (“brave; heroic; valiant; gallant” /yuusoo-na/), 壮観 (“thrilling sight; spectacle view” /sookan/), 壮行会 (“farewell party; a rousing send-off” /sooko’okai/) and 悲壮な (“in the midst of grief; tragic but courageous” /hisoo-na/).

  1. The kanji 荘 “villa; manor; solemn; grand”

History of Kanji 荘For the kanji 荘, (a) in bronze ware style had爿“a vertically placed table,” 由 and 口, together having the meaning “grandness in religious ceremony, and meant “grand; solemn.” (b) in Old style, in purple, had a table (爿), deceased bones (歹) on a table (几). (For the Old style (b) I have not been able to find an analysis in references.) (c) in seal style had 艸 “grass” and 壮, which was /soo/ phonetically. Together a place where many trees and plants vigorously grew gave the meaning “villa; manor.” The kanji 荘 means “villa; manor; solemn; grand.”  <the composition of the kanji 荘: 艹 and 壮>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /soo/ (in kan-on) is in 別荘 (“villa; vacation home; country place” /be’ssoo/), 荘重な (“solemn; imposing” /soochoo-na/) and 荘厳な (“solemn; majestic” /soogon-na/).’’ Another on-yomi /shoo/ (in go-on) is in 荘園 (“a private estate owned by a noble, temple or shrine” /shooen/).

  1. The kanji 装 “to wear clothes; equip; pretend”

History of Kanji 装For the kanji 装 in seal style the top 壮 was used phonetically for /soo/ to mean “grand; manly,” and the bottom 衣 meant “clothes” from “collar.” From putting on a good outfit to look grand it meant “to put on good clothes; equip with gear.” It also meant “to pretend.” The kanji 装 means “to wear clothes; equip; pretend.”  <the composition of the kanji 装: 壮 and 衣>

The kun-yomi 装う /yosooo/ means “to dress oneself; be attired; feign; pretend.” The on-yomi /soo/ (in kan-on) is in 偽装する (“to camouflage something as” /gisoo-suru/), 装備する (“to equip” /so’bi-suru/), 装飾 (“decoration” /sooshoku/), and 正装 (“formal attire” /seesoo/). Another on-yomi /shoo/ (in go-on) is in 衣装 (“clothing; attire” /i’shoo/) and 装束 (“costume; attire” /sho’ozoku/), as in 白装束 (“white shroud” /shirosho’ozoku/).

  1. The kanji 床 “floor; bed”

History of Kanji 床There is one more kanji that I would like to bring in – the kanji 床, even though 爿 does not appear on the surface. The kanji 床 had the Correct writing style 牀, in green, on the left. The kanji 牀 comprised 爿 “table; wooden plank,” which was used phonetically for /shoo/, and 木 “wood.” Together they meant “wooden floor; wooden bed.” The kanji 床 became a popular writing for 牀 in much later times. The kanji 床 means “floor; bed.”  <the composition of the kanji 床: 广 and 木>

The kun-yomi 床 /yuka/ means “floor.” Another kun-yomi 床 /toko/ means “sleeping futon laid out,” 床を取る (“to lay futon” /toko-o to’ru/), perhaps a slightly old expression, and is also in 床の間 (“alcove; the recess in a Japanese room in which a scroll may be hung” /tokonoma/) and 床屋 (“barber shop” /tokoya/). /-Doko/ is in 寝床 (“sleeping bed; berth” /nedoko/). The on-yomi /shoo/ is in 温床 (“hotbed” /onshoo/),  起床時間 (“the hour of rising; the time one gets up” /kishooji’kan/), 病床 (“sick bed” /byooshoo/) and 臨床試験 (“clinical trial” /rinshoo-shi’ken/).

It seems that we need one more posting before finishing this topic. In the next posting we shall look at kanji that originated from 疒 “illness” from “a person lying on a bed.”  Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko  [July 29, 2017]

The Kanji 丙柄商更梗硬便 – “a table” (2)丙

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In this post we are going to explore another table shape – 丙. The seven kanji 丙柄商更梗硬便 have either 丙 in kanji 丙柄 or in earlier writings of the kanji 商更梗硬便.

  1. The kanji 丙 “poor grade”

History of Kanji 丙The kanji 丙 has quite limited use in the current writing system, but it had a longer history than some other kanji. (a) in oracle bone style and (b), (c) and (d) in bronze ware style was a pictograph of a table or a pedestal to place something on. Unlike 几, the legs were fortified with diagonal supports. It was used phonetically for /hee/ and was borrowed to mean a certain time in the Chinese calendar. In (e) another line was added to indicate that this table was a place to put something on or a pedestal.  In Japanese 丙 was also used to indicate a lowest grade  in 甲乙丙 /ko’o o’tsu he’e/ “Top, Medium and Low.” The kanji 丙 means “the third-class; poor grade.”   <the composition of the kanji 丙: 一 and 内>

The kun-yomi /hinoe/ is a name of the calendar time. The on-yomi /koo/ is in 丙種 (“C-grade; third grade” /he’eshu/).

  1. The kanji 柄 “handle; power; demeanor; pattern”

History of Kanji 柄(a) in oracle bone style had a tree on top of a base, whereas in (b) in seal style the two components were placed side by side.  Together they signified a ladle with a long wooden stick. A long wooden stick or handle could be a tool to manipulate something or even a person. From that it also meant “power; to handle power; manner in which a matter is handled.” In Japanese it also means “pattern.” The kanji 柄 means “a handle; power; to manipulate; demeanor; pattern.”  < the composition of the kanji 柄: 木 and 丙>

The kun-yomi 柄 /e/ means “handle.” Another kun-yomi /gara/ means “pattern,” and is in 大柄な (“a person with a large build; large pattern,” /oogara-na/), 人柄 (“a person’s character; disposition” /hitogara/), 家柄 (“social standing of a family; good family” /iegara/), 柄の悪い (“vulgar” /gara-no-waru’i/) and 間柄 (“relationship” /aidagara/). The on-yomi /hee/ is in 横柄な(“arrogant; disdainful” /o’ohee-na/). It is also used in 柄杓(“ladle with a long handle” /hishaku/).

  1. The kanji 商 “commerce; trade; business”

History of Kanji 商(a) and (b) in oracle bone style comprised “a tattooing needle” at the top and “a table” at the bottom. In (c) and (d) in bronze ware style and (e) in seal style, 口 “mouth or a box of benedictions” was added. There have been various views on the origin of 商. One view is that a person who had the power to tattoo criminals also talked or prayed to a god to ask the will of a god. The meaning of god was dropped but the meaning of asking someone if he is interested in trading business. It meant “commerce.” Another view, which is often cited, is that 商 /sho’o/ (Shang in Chinese) was the capital of the ancient dynasty 殷, Yin (Shang).  When the Shang dynasty fell they became merchants travelling around the country. From that the kanji 商 meant “trade; commerce.”  <the composition of the kanji 商: 立 without the last stroke, 冂, 八 and 口>

The kun-yomi 商い /aki’nai/ means “sale.”  The on-yomi /shoo/ is in 商品 (“merchandize” /sho’ohin/), 商売 (“business; trade; transaction” /sho’obai/), 商談 (“business negotiation” /shoodan/), 商才 (“business acumen” /shoosai/) and 年商 (“annual turnover; annual business volume” /nenshoo/).

  1. The kanji 更 “again; further; to change”

History of Kanji 更In oracle bone style (a) had “a table” at the top and “a hand with a stick” signifying “to hit; cause something.” In bronze ware style in (b) and (c) another table was added, signifying “repeat” or “replacing.” (d) in seal style became 丙 at the top and 攴 at the bottom. In kanji, the two components were coalesced into one, in which an elongated shape of a hand (又) may be recognized in the last two strokes.  The kanji 更 means “again; further; to change.”

The kun-yomi 更に (“in addition to; furthermore” /sa’ra-ni/), 今更 (“at this late time; afresh”  /imasara/). Another kun-yomi 更ける /huke’ru/ means “to grow late; (time) advance,” and is in 夜更け (“deep in the night; late at night” /yohuke’/). The on-yomi /koo/ is in 更衣室 (“a clothes changing room; locker room” /kooishitu/), 更新する (to renew”  /kooshin-suru/) and 更生 (“rehabilitation; regeneration” /koosee/).

  1. The kanji 梗 “hard”

History of Kanji 梗The seal style writing was comprised of 木 on the left, and 丙 and攴 (which became 更 in kanji), which was used phonetically for /koo/. It is used for a mountain elm tree, which was thorny and hard. The kanji 梗 means “hard.”  <the composition of the kanji梗: 木 and 更>

There is no kun-yomi. This kanji is rarely used, except in medical terms such as 脳梗塞 (“cerebral infarction” /nooko’osoku/) and 心筋梗塞 (“cardiac infarction; heart infarction”/shinkinko’osoku/), and a flower called 桔梗 /kikyoo/ “balloon flower; platycodon,” an elegant dark blue-purple flower that appears in Japanese design. (I have never seen any in the U. S., except on a nursery catalogue.)

  1. The kanji 硬 “hard; stiff”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 硬. The kanji is comprised of 石 “rock; stone” and 更, which was used phonetically for /koo/ to mean “hard.” Together they meant something solid and hard like a rock.   The kanji 硬 means “hard; rigid.”  <the composition of the kanji硬: 石 and 更>

The kun-yumi 硬い /katai/ means “hard; rigid.” The on-yomi /koo/ is強硬な (“strong; firm; aggressive” /kyookoo-na/), 生硬な (“raw; crude; unrefined” /seekoo-na/), 硬貨 (“coin; metallic money” /ko’oka/), 硬直した (“rigid; stiff” /koochokushita/) and 態度を硬化させる (“to stiffen one’s attitude” /ta’ido o ko’oka-saseru/).

  1. The kanji 便 “convenient; service; bowel movement”

History of Kanji 便The seal style writing comprised イ“person” and 更 “to renew.” From the meaning of “a person changed something to make it better,” it meant “convenient; service.” It is also used for something that happened regularly such as “service; bowel movement.” The kanji 便 means “convenient; service; bowel movement.”  <the composition of the kanji便: イ and 更>

The kun-yomi /ta’yori/ means “letter.” The on-yomi /ben/ is in 便利な (“convenient; handy” /be’nri-na/), 不便な (“inconvenient” /hu’ben-na/), 便宜を図る (“to accommodate” /be’ngi-o haka’ru/), バスの便がいい (“to have good bus service” /ba’su-no-bn-ga i’i/), 小便 (“urin” /shoobe’n/) and 大便 (“excrement” /daiben/). Another on-yomi /bin/ is in 全日空001便 (“the All Nippon Airways flight number 1” /zenni’kkuu ichibin/), 航空便 (“airmail” /kookuubin/), 便乗する (“yo avail oneself of; jump on the bandwagon; take a ride” /binjoo-suru/) and 穏便な (“amicable; peaceful” /onbin-na/).

There are a couple of more “table shapes” that developed into kanji components (爿 and 疒). We shall continue with these shapes in the next post. Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko  [July 23, 2017]

The Kanji 則側測賊 and 墳噴憤 – 貝(4) 

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This is the fourth posting on kanji that contain the shape 貝. In the first two postings, we explored the shape 貝 related to a “cowrie” that signified “money; value.” In the third posting we explored the shape 貝 related to a “three-legged bronze vessel.” In this posting we are continuing with a three-legged bronze vessel – the kanji 則側測賊. I have realized this week that there is another shape, 賁, that contains 貝 and can be explained as a cowrie. The 墳噴憤 are added to conclude our exploration of the shape 貝.

  1. The kanji 則 “rule; law”

History of Kanji 則For the kanji 則, we have three writing samples in bronze ware style, in green, here. (a) had two three-legged bronze ware vessels whereas (b) and (c) has just one vessel. The right side was a knife. The knife next to the vessel has been given different accounts — It was a knife used as a utensil for eating food that was cooked in the vessel. Sacrificial animal meat and other food that was offered to a deity was also shared by participants in a religious rite. Something that always accompanied the vessel signified “the rules always to be abided by.” Another account is that a knife signified inscription on the vessel [Shirakawa]. What was inscribed on a bronze ware stayed for a long time and was to be abided by — thus “rules; laws.” The double vessels in (a), and (d) in Old style, in purple, are explained by Shirakawa as signifying the fact that important contracts were inscribed in two vessels for each party to keep as proof. In kanji the knife became刂, a bushu rittoo “a knife placed vertically.”

In the last post in discussing the kanji 敗 we touched upon ambiguity of interpreting 貝 as a cowrie or a three- or four-legged bronze vessel. We can see that the kanji 則 is another example. Kyoshin (許慎 Xu Shen), the compiler of Setsumon Kaiji at the turn of the second century A.D., took them (in (d) in 則, I believe) as cowries.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /soku/ is in 規則 (“rules; bylaw; statutory instrument” /ki’soku/), 法則 (“law; principle; rule” /hoosoku/), 鉄則 (“ironclad rule; inviolable rule” /tessoku/) and 変則的な (“irregular” /hensokuteki-na/).

  1. The kanji 側 “close by; side; aspect”

History of Kanji 側For the kanji 側, the bronze ware style writing, and the seal style writing, in red, had a “person” (イ), a “three-legged bronze ware vessel” (貝) and a “knife” (刀).  則 was used phonetically for /soku/. A person standing next to the vessel meant “by the side.” The kanji 側 means “close by; side.”

The kun-yomi /-kawa; -gawa/ is in 向こう側 (“opposite side; the other side” /mukoogawa/), 裏側 (“behind; the back side” /uragawa/) and 片側 (“one side” /katagawa/). The on-yomi /soku/ is in 側面 (“aspect; side view; profile; flank” /sokumen/) and 側近 (“close adviser; member of one’s entourage”).

  1. The kanji 測 “to measure”

History of Kanji 測The seal style writing of the kanji 測 comprised “water” and 則, which was used phonetically for /soku/ to mean “standard.” Together they signified measuring the depth of water or in a more general sense of “to measure.” The kanji 測 means “to measure.”

The kun-yomi 測る /haka’ru/ means “to measure. The on-yomi /soku/ is in 測量 (“location survey” /sokuryoo/), 推測する (“to guess; presume; speculate” /suisoku-suru/) and 目測 (“eye-estimation; measurement with the eye” /mokusoku/).

  1. The kanji 賊 “damage due to a robbery; thief”

History of Kanji 賊In the bronze ware style of the kanji 賊. we see a halberd (戈) on the top right and a three-legged vessel (貝) underneath. But what was the small piece on the left side of the vessel?  Was it a “knife” or a “person”?  As I mentioned in earlier posts, a knife and a person looked so alike in bronze ware style that they caused some confusion. History of Kanji 戎(frame)Then when I looked up the ancient writing for 戎 (“soldier; weapon” /e’bisu; kai/), which was the right side of the kanji 賊, it became clear that it was a shield or armor (The history is shown on the right). The kanji 戎 had a halberd (戈) and a shield, making up the meaning “weapons.” So, the kanji 賊 comprises 貝 “three-legged vessel” and 戎 “weapons; soldier.” Together they meant scraping an inscription of an oath out of bronze ware to revoke it. It was also used to mean injuring a person. The kanji 賊 means “to damage; damage due to a robbery; robber.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /zoku/ is in 賊が押し入る (“a robber breaks into it” /zoku-ga-oshiiru/), 海賊 (“pirate” /kaizoku/), 海賊版 (“pirated edition” /kaizokuban/), 盗賊 (“robber; thief” /toozoku/), 盗賊の一味 (“a pack of thieves” /toozoku-no ichi’mi/) and 賊軍 (“rebels; rebel army” /zokugun/).

History of Kanji 賁(frame)We leave the exploration of the kanji that originated from a legged bronze ware vessel here. The last shape we are exploring in this group of four posts is the shape 賁. The kanji 賁 /hi; hun/ is not a Joyo kanji but we have the history shown on the right side. The bronze ware style was richly decorated ornament. In seal style a cowrie was added to indicate decoration with cowries. The kanji 賁 means “to decorate colorfully,” and when it is used as a component it meant “to burst out.”

  1. The kanji 墳 “burial mound”

History of Kanji 墳The seal style writing of the kanji 墳 comprised 土 “soil; dirt” and 賁, which was used phonetically for /hun/ to mean “causing something to swell; rise.” Together they meant a burial mound of ancient times. In kanji 土 became a bushu tsuchihen “ground; dirt.” The kanji 墳 means “burial mound.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /hun/ is in 古墳 (“ancient burial mound; ancient tomb” /kohun/), 古墳時代 (“tumulus period; Kofun period” /kohunji’dai/) and 墳墓 (“tomb; grave” /hu’nbo/).

  1. The kanji 噴 “to spout out; erupt; blow out”

History of Kanji 噴The seal style writing of the kanji 噴 comprised 口 “mouth; opening” and 賁, which was used phonetically for /hun/ to mean “to burst out; gush out.” Together they meant “to gush out.”

The kun-yomi 噴き出す /hukida’su/ means “to spout out; erupt; blow out.” The on-yomi /hun/ is in 噴出 (“to gush out; eject” /hunshutu/), 噴水 (“fountain” /hunsui/) and 火山の噴火 (“volcanic eruption” /kazan-no hunka/).

  1. The kanji 憤 “to anger; outrage; indignation”

History of Kanji 憤The seal style writing of the kanji 憤 comprised “heart” and 賁, which was used phonetically for /hun/to mean “to burst out.” Together a heart gushing out with emotions meant “to anger; rancor ; outrage; indignation” In kanji, a heart became 忄, a bushu risshinben “heart.” The kanji 憤 means “anger; rancor; outrage; indignation.”

The kun-yomi 憤る /ikidoo’ru/ means “to be furious about; seethe with anger.” The on-yomi /hun/ is in 憤慨する (“to get very angry; feel indignant” /hungai-suru/), 義憤 (“righteous indignation” /gihun/) and 憤激する (“to flare up; explode with anger” /hungai-suru/).

We shall move to another topic in the next post.  Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko [July 8, 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]

The Kanji 斉済剤斎帝締諦嫡敵適摘滴

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Kanji that pertained to religious matters mostly involved an altar table. We continue our exploration of kanji that originated from an altar table in this fourth post.  The kanji we are going to look at are 斉済剤斎 with 斉, 帝締諦 with 帝 and 嫡敵適摘滴 with 啇.

  1. The kanji 斉 “to be in good order; gather well”

History of Kanji 斉For the kanji 斉, in (a) in oracle bone style, in brown, (b) and (c) in bronze ware style, in green, and (d) in seal style, in red, there were three beautiful hair accessories of women involved in a religious rite in a uniformly neat appearance. It meant “to be in good order; gather properly.”

There is a slightly different acocunt– Setsumon’s account on (d) was that it came from three plants, such as barley, of equal length that were offerings to a deity. Either account pertained to  religious matter. The kyuji 齊, (e) in blue, was simplified to 斉. The kanji 斉 means “to be in good order; gather well.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /see/ is in 斉唱 (“singing in unison” /seeshoo/), 一斉に (“all at once; simultaneously” /issee-ni/) and 一斉休暇 (“all employees taking the days off at the same time” /issee-kyu’uka/).

  1. The kanji 済 “to complete; finish up”

History of Kanji 済The seal style writing was comprised of “water” and 斉. It was the name of a river. From crossing the river, it was borrowed to mean “to rescue people” and further “to be accomplished.” The kyuji 濟 was simplified to済. The kanji 済 means “to complete; finish up.”

The kun-yomi /su/ is in 済む /su‘mu/ “to end” and 済ます (“to compete; settle” /sumasu/).  /-Zu/ is in使用済み (“already finished being used; second-hand” /shiyoozumi/), 返済 (“payback” /hensai/) and 救済する (“to give relief; save” /kyuusai-suru/). /-Zai/ is in 経済 (“economy; economics” /ke’ezai/).

  1. The kanji 剤 “medicine; drug”

History of Kanji 剤The seal style writing was comprised of 斉 and 刂 “knife.” Together they meant engraving on a bronze ware vessel to inscribe a contract. Later on it was borrowed to mean “medicine.” In kyuji the knife, being used on the right side, became刂, a bushu rittoo “knife.” The kanji 剤 means “medicine; drug.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /zai/ is in 薬剤師 (“pharmacist; chemist” /yakuza’ishi/), 錠剤 (“tablet” /joozai/) and 洗剤 (“detergent” /senzai/).

  1. The kanji 斎 “votive abstinence”

History of Kanji 斎For the kanji 斎the bronze ware style writing was comprised of an altar table added to 斉, which was used phonetically for /sai/ to pertain to religious rite. Together they meant the discrete reverential manner of areligious rite. In seal style the altar table was placed inside 斉.  The kanji 斎meant “votive abstinence; .”

There is no kun-yomi. The om-yomi /sai/ is in 斎場 (“funeral parlor” /saijoo/) and 書斎 (“study; library” /shosai/).

The next eight kanji — in two groups, 帝締諦 and 嫡敵適摘滴 — do not appear to share anything common. However, surprisingly, they all came from a principal alter table at which a ruler conducted a rite for his ancestral deities.

  1. The kanji 帝 “emperor; imperial”

History of Kanji 帝For the kanji 帝, (a) in oracle bone style (b) in bronze ware style, and (c) and (d) in seal style was an altar table that had three crossed legs for stability. It was the most important altar table on which to place offerings for the ancestral gods, in comparison to another alter (示), which was for general meaning of religions matters. A person who was the primary celebrant was an emperor. In kanji the bottom 巾 was probably the remnant of three legs. The kanji 帝 meant “emperor; imperial.”

The kun-yomi /mikado/ means “emperor.” The on-yomi /tee/ is in 帝王 (“emperor” /teeo‘o/), 帝国 (“empire; conglomerate” /teekoku/) and 皇帝 (“emperor” /kootee/).

  1. The kanji 締 “to fasten; tie up”

History of Kanji 締The seal style writing for the kanji 締 was comprised of 糸 “thread,” signifying “tying,” and 帝, which was used phonetically for /tee/. The kanji 締 they meant “to fasten; sign a treaty.”

The kun-yomi /shi/ is in 締める(“to fasten; tie up” /shime’ru/), its intransitive verb締まる (“to become closed; become fastened” /shima’ru/), 引き締める (“to tense up; tighten” /hikishime’ru/), and 取り締まる (“to crack down; keep in line” /torishimaru/. The on-yomi /tee/ is in 締結する (“to conclude z treaty; enter into” /teeketsu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 諦 “to resign oneself”

History of Kanji 適The seal style writing for the kanji 諦was comprisee of 言 “word; language,” and 帝, which was used phonetically for /tee/. Together they meant “to make clear (with words); reveal the truth.” In Japanese it also means “to resign to one’s fate; despair.” The kanji 諦 means “to resign to one’s fate.”

The kun-yomi /akirameru/ means “to give up; drop out.” The on-yomi /tee/ is in 諦観する (“to resign oneself” /teekan-suru/) and 諦念 (“understanding and acceptance of the basis of things; resignation” /teenen/).

The Component 啇–The next five kanji all have 啇 /teki/. Its history is shown on the right.– The two bronze ware style writings had a principal altar table for an emperor, which eventually became the kanji 帝, and 口 “prayer vessel; mouth.” Together they signified an emperor or someone who conducted a religious rite in ancescral deity worship. We shall see in the next five kanji that the original meaning of 帝 is more directly reflected in those kanji with 啇 /teki/, which was used phonetically as well, than in kanji with 帝 /tee/ in 6 and 7.

  1. The kanji 嫡 “legitimate”

History of Kanji 嫡For the kanji 嫡 the bronze ware style writing was the same as 啇. In seal style a woman was added to indicate a line of legitimate heirs to a throne. The kanji 嫡 means “legitimate line.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /chaku/ is in 嫡男 (“male heir” /chaku’nan/), 嫡子 (“legitimate child; heir” /cha’kushi/) and 嫡流 (“direct line of descendant” /chakuryuu/).

  1. The kanji 敵 “enemy; opponent”

History of Kanji 敵For the kanji 敵, the bronze ware style writing was the same as 啇 “emperor; imperial” or 嫡 “legitimate heir.” In seal style, 攴, a bushu bokuzukuri “to beat; hit,” was added. Someone who attacked an heir was “enemy; foe.” Someone who was an good match to be one’s enemy also gave the meaning “equal to; match; opponent.”

The kun-yomi 敵 /kataki’/ means “enemy,” and is in 敵役 (“villain’s part in play” /katakiyaku/) and 商売敵 (“rival in trade” /shoobaiga’taki/). The on-yomi 敵 /teki/ means “enemy,” and is in 宿敵 (“old enemy” /shukuteki/), 敵意 (“hostile feeling; animus” /te’kii/) and 匹敵する (“comparable to; equal to” /hitteki-suru/).

  1. The kanji 適 “suitable; to fit”

History of Kanji 適For the kanji 適, again, the bronze ware style writing was the same as in 8 and 9. It suggests that all those meanings were once expressed in one writing. In seal style, 辵, the precursors of shinnyo/shinnyu “to move forward; move on.” The right side was used phonetically for /teki/ to mean “a legitimate person.” The meaning of being suitable to conduct worship rites was used for this writing. The writing 適 meant “suitable; to fit.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /teki/ is in 適切 (“appropriate” /tekisetsu/), 適度な (“moderate” /te’kido-na/), 快適な (“comfortable; pleasant” /kaiteki-na/) and 適用する(“to apply” /tekiyoo-suru).

  1. The kanji 摘 “to pick up”

History of Kanji 摘The seal style writing was comprised of扌 “hand” and 啇, which was used phonetically for /teki/. Together they meant a hand picking or plucking something. The kanji 摘 means “to pick; pluck.”

The kun-yomi 摘む /tsumu/ means “to pick up; pull up.” The on-yomi /teki/ means 摘要 (“abstract” /tekiyoo/), 摘発する (“to expose; unmask” /tekihatsu-suru/) and 指摘する (“to point out; indicate” /shiteki-suru/).

  1. The kanji 滴 “drop; to trickle”

History of Kanji 滴For the kanji 滴 the two writings (a) and (b) in oracle bone style were taken from Akai (2010). In (a) and (b) next to “water” was a tattooing needle and a table or base to place it on, which was the origin of the kanji 商. This puzzles me. Shirakawa (2004) did not list them in 滴. I suspect that it is due to the difference in view on which writings should be taken as for origin of a particular kanji. Generally speaking the writings listed in Akai, a calligrapher and kanji compiler, are in line with Shirakawa’s view, but this is one of very few discrepancies. The seal style writing, (c), was comprised of , a bushu sanzui “water,” and the right side 啇 was used phonetically for /teki/. It is believed to be an onomatopoetic use for the sound of water dripping. The kanji 滴 means “to drop; drip.”

The kun-yomi 滴る /shitata’ru/ means “to dribble; trickle.” Another kun-yomi 滴 /shizuku/ means “drop.” The on-yomi /teki/ is in 水滴 (“water droplet” /suiteki/) and 一滴 (“driblet; drop” /itteki/).

There is one more component that originated from an altar table that I would like to explore, but that has to be in the next post.  Thank you very much for your reading this rather long post.  – Noriko [June 3, 2017]

The Kanji 示宗禁祭際察擦崇奈 – “altar table”

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In this and next few posts we are going to explore kanji that pertained to religious matter. The kanji we look at in this post are示宗禁祭際察擦崇奈, which originated from an altar table.

  1. The kanji 示 “to display; indicate”

History of Kanji 示For the kanji 示, in oracle bone style, in brown, it was an altar table with an offering placed above. An altar was where the god showed his message. From that it meant “to show; demonstrate.” In seal style, in red, a line was added on each side of the stand. Setsumon’s explanation of these three lines was the sun, the moon and a star by which the god showed himself to people.

The kun-yomi shimesu means “to show; display; indicate.” The on-yomi /ji/ is in 表示する (“to display” /hyooji-suru/), 暗示 (“hint; indication; suggestion” /anji/), 展示場 (“exhibition  hall; show room” /tenjijoo/), 示談 (“out of court settlement; private settlement” /ji’dan/) and 指示する (“ton instruct; order” /shi’ji-suru/). Another on-yomi /Shi/ is in 示唆する (“to suggest” /shi’sa-suru/).

  1. The kanji 宗 “religion; sect; head of a group”

History of Kanji 宗For the kanji 宗, in oracle bone style it was an altar table inside a house or shrine. In bronze ware style, in green, and seal style the altar table had three lines. Together they meant “religious belief,” and “the head or founder of a religious group; group.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /shuu/ is used in the sense of Bhuddist practice such as 宗教 (“religion” /shu’ukyoo/), 改宗 (“conversion of one’s religion” /kaishuu/) and 宗旨 (“tenets of of a religious sect” /shu’ushi/). Another on-yomi /soo/ is used in the sense of “a group of people” such as 宗家 (“head of family” /so’oke/) and 宗廟 (“ancestral mausoleu” /soobyoo/).

  1. The kanji 禁 “to prohibit”

History of Kanji 禁In seal style of the kanji 禁, the top had two trees that signified “forest.” The bottom was “altar table,” signifying something sacred. Together they signified a sacred forest that was forbidden to enter. From that it meant “to prohibit; forbid.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /kin/ is in 禁止する (“to prohibit” /kinshi-suru/), 禁句 (“tabooed word or phrase” /kinku/), 禁断 (“strict prohibition” /kindan/), あゆ漁の解禁  (“the opening of an ayu fish fishing season” /ayu’ryoo-no kaikin/) and 立ち入り禁止  (“Off-limit; Closed to the public” /tachiiri-kinshi.)

  1. The kanji 祭 “festival; feast day”

History of Kanji 祭For the kanji 祭, (a) in oracle bone style was comprised of a “hand” on the left sprinkling “rice wine” over an offering of a “piece of meat” on the right to sanctify it. (b) was the mirror image of (a). In (c) and (d) in bronze ware style an altar table replaced the sanctifying rice wine. (e) in seal style remained in kanji. (The top left of the kanji is not タ “moon” but has two short strokes inside, from 肉.) The kanji 祭 meant “celebration; festival.”

The kun-yomi 祭り or 祭 /matsuri/ means “festival; celebration,” and is in 祭り上げる (“to set someone on a pedestal” /matsuriage’ru/). The on-yomi /sai/ is in 祭日 (“holiday” /saijitu), 司祭 (“Catholic priest or clergy” /shi’sai/), 映画祭 (“film festival” /eega’sai/) and 感謝祭 (“Thanksgiving Day” /kansha’sai/).

  1. The kanji 際 “boundary; edge of an area; contact”

History of Kanji 際rIn the seal style writing of the kanji 際, an earthen wall for a boundary  was added to the left of 祭 “celebration of a god.” The area where the god and people come to meet was edge of an area; contact. In kanji the left side became simplified to 阝, a bushu kozatohen. The kanji 際 meant “boundary; edge of an area; contact.”

The kun-yomi 際 /kiwa’/ means “side; edge; verge,” and /-giwa/ is in 窓際 (“window side” /madogiwa/), 間際に (“just before; at the brink” /ma’giwa/) and 出際に (“at the moment of going out” /degiwa-ni/) and 手際よく (“skillfully; deftly” /tekigayo’ku/). The on-yomi /sai/ is in 国際的 (“international” /kokusaiteki/), 交際する (“to go steady; socialize with” /koosai-suru/) and 実際 (“truly; indeed; in point of fact” /jissai/). /-Zai/ is in 分際 (“position; social standing” /bunzai/).

  1. The kanji 察 “to perceive; conjecture”

History of Kanji 察The seal style writing was comprised of “house” and 祭 “celebration of a god.” In a house that enshrined a god one looked for a god’s will carefully and reflected on it. The religious meaning was dropped and the kanji 察 means “to perceive; look thoroughly; conjecture.”

There is no kun-yomi. On-yomi /satsu/ is in 観察 (“observation; supervision” /kansatsu/), 警察 (“police station; constabulary; police” /keesatsu/), 察する (“to perceive; gather” /sassuru/), 察知する (“infer from; gather from” /sa’cchi-suru/) and 洞察力 (“insight” /doosatsu’ryoku/).

  1. The kanji 擦 “to rub; scrub; scour”

The kanji 擦 was created much later, so no ancient writing existed. The kanji 擦 is comprised of 扌, a bushu tehen “an act that one does using a hand” and 察, which was used phonetically for /satsu/. Together they meant a hand rubbing something. The kanji 擦 meant “to rub; scrub; scour.”

The kun-yomi 擦る /su’ru/ means “to rub; scrub; scour” and 擦れる (“to be rubbed; be worn” /sure’ru/), and is in 擦り切れる (“to be worn out; become threadbare” /surikire’ru/). The on-yomi /sa’tsu/ is in 摩擦 (“friction; rubbing” /masatsu/).

  1. The kanji 崇 “high; to revere”

History of Kanji 崇The seal style writing of the kanji 崇 was comprised of 山 “mountain” that signified “high” and 宗, which was used phonetically for /suu/ to mean “main.” Together from the highest mountain in the mountain range, it meant “high; supreme.”

The kun-yomi /agame’ru/ means “to hold someone in reverence; adore.” The on-yomi /suu/ is in 崇高な (“lofty; sublime; grand” /suukoo-na/) and 崇拝する (“to worship; idolize” /suuhai-suru/).

  1. The kanji 奈 “(interrogative)”

History of Kanji 奈The seal style writing was comprised of 木 “tree” and 示 “altar table.” Together they meant the name of a tree. It was used for an interrogative word. The Correct writing 柰 reflected the seal style, but in kanji the top became 大. The kanji 奈 was used for “how; why” in some kanbun-style writing, but is no longer used except in a very limited word related to Buddhism.

The use of the kanji 奈 is quite limited. There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /na/ is in 奈落 (“Hell; the infernal regions; a trap cellar in a theater” /naraku/) and in a proper noun 奈良 (“Nara” /na’ra/), the old capitol of Japan before Kyoto.

The component 示 in the kanji 票標漂 did not come from an altar table but came from “fire.”  In the next post we are going to explore kanji that contain ネ, a bushu shimesuhen, which came from 示.  Thank you very much for your reading.  -Noriko [May 14, 2017]

The Kanji 網綱縄総紋紅紺縁級給 – itohen “thread” (2)

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  1. The kanji 網 “net”

History of Kanji 網For the kanji 網, (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, was a net and was also used phonetically for /moo/.  It meant “net.” (c) in seal style, in red, the outside was a net and inside was a skein of thread (糸) and 亡 for /boo; moo/. In kanji, (d), a skein of thread was taken outside the net as a bushu itohen, and the right side became 罔. The kanji 網 meant “net; net-like thing.”

The kun-yomi 網 /ami’/ meant “net.” The on-yomi /moo/ is in 連絡網 (“contact network” /renraku’moo) and 網羅する (“to contain all the points; cover thoroughly” /mo’ora-suru/).

  1. The kanji 綱 “cable; principle”

History of Kanji 綱The seal style for the kanji 綱 had 岡, which was used phonetically for /koo/. 岡 was originally a hard mold that was baked at a high temperature and signified “strong.” Together with 糸, they meant “cable; line.” Something that was strong gave a principle for an order, thus it meant “principle.”  The kanji 綱 meant “cable; principle.”

The kun-yomi 綱 /tsuna’/ means “rope,” and is in 横綱 (“grand champion sumo wrestler” /yokozuna/) and 綱渡り (“tightrope; ropewalking” /tsunawa’tari/). The on-yomi /koo/ is in 綱領 (“platform; principles; directive” /kooryoo/).

  1. The kanji 縄 “rope”

History of Kanji 縄In the seal style writing of the kanji 縄, the right side originated from a fly, but was used phonetically for /joo/ to mean a “twisted thing.” Together they meant “rope.” The kyuji, in blue, reflected seal style. In kanji the right side became simplified. The kanji 縄 meant “rope; cord.”

The kun-yomi 縄 /nawa’/ meant “rope.” The on-yomi /jo’o/ is in 縄文時代 (“Jomon pre-historic era in Japanese history” /joomonji’dai/). The name came from pottery that had the embossed pattern of a rope, and it preceded 弥生時代 /Yayoiji’dai/).

  1. The kanji 総 “to gather all; all; general”

History of Kanji 総In the seal style writing of the kanji 総, next to the skein of threads (糸) was  悤, which was used phonetically for /soo/ to mean “to bundle up hair.” Together they meant to bundle threads into one. From that it meant “to gather all” and “all.” In kanji the right side悤became忩. The kanji 総 meant “to gather all; all; general.”

The kun-yomi 総て /su’bete/ meant “all”. Another kun-yomi /husa/ is in a name. The on-yomi /soo/ is in 総合 (“total; synthesis” /soogoo/), 総称 (“general name; name for all” /sooshoo/), 総務 (“general administration” /so’omu/) and 総理大臣 (“prime minister” /soorida’ijin/).

  1. The kanji 紋 “pattern; (family) crest”

History of Kanji 紋The bronze ware style writing for the kanji 紋 had a skein of threads (three rounds), and the right side was a hand holding a stick, signifying “action by hand.” Together they signified a hand making a pattern with threads. Setsumon did not give any seal style writing. The right side (文) of the kanji 紋 was used phonetically for /bun; mon/ to mean “design.”  With 糸 and 文 together they meant a pretty pattern in woven fabric.  In Japanese 紋 is also used to mean “family crest.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 紋 /mon/ meant “family crest,” and is in 波紋 (“ripple” /hamon/), 指紋 (“finger print” /shimon/) and 家紋 (“family crest” /ka’mon/).

  1. The kanji 紅 “red”

History of Kanji 紅The seal style writing was comprised of 糸, a skein of threads, and 工, which was used phonetically for /koo/. Together they meant “red.”  The kanji 紅 meant “red.”

The kun-yomi 紅 /be’ni/ is in 紅色 (“red” /beniiro/), 口紅 (“lipstick” /kuchibeni/). The on-yomi /koo/ is in 紅茶 (“black tea” from the color of brewed tea /koocha/) and 紅一点 (“only female in the company” /ko’o itten/).

  1. The kanji 紺 “dark blue”

History of Kanji 紺The seal style writing was comprised of 糸 and 甘, which was used phonetically for /kan/. Together they meant “dark blue.” The kanji 紺 meant “dark blue.”

The kun-yomi /kon/ is in 紺色 (“dark blue” /kon-iro/), 濃紺 (“dark blue” /nookun/) and 紺碧の空 (“the azure sky” /konpeki-no-so’ra/).

  1. The kanji 縁 “edge; to be linked by fate”

History of Kanji 縁The right side of the seal style writing (彖) was used phonetically for /tan; en/ to mean “edge.”  With the left side 糸, together they meant “edge of clothes; fringe.” From that it also meant something connecting. In Buddhism this kanji means “to be linked by fate.” The kyuji, in blue, reflected the seal style. In shinji the right top was simplified. The kanji 縁 meant “edge; to be linked by fate.”

The kun-yomi 縁 /huchi’/ means “edge; border; brim,” and 額縁 (“picture frame” /gakubuchi/) and 縁なし眼鏡 (“a pair of rimless eyeglasses” /huchinashi-me’gane/). The on-yomi /e’n/ is in 縁起がいい (“of good omen; boding well for” /engi-ga-i’i/), 縁談 (“marriage proposal; marriage prospect” /endan/), 縁故採用 (“hiring through personal connection” /enko-sa’iyoo/) and 縁がある (“to be linked by fate” /e’n-ga-aru/).

  1. The kanji 級 “class; order”

History of Kanji 級The kanji 級 had 糸and 及, which was used phonetically for /kyuu/. The history of 及 by itself is shown on the right. The image was a person and a hand of another person catching the person in front. The sense of “order” from these two people, front and behind, signified order. With threads added, they originally meant setting up threads in the right order on the loom. From that it was extended to mean “phase; stage.” The kanji級 meant “class; order.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /kyuu/ is in 等級 (“rank; class” /tookyuu/), 上級生 (“upper class student” /jookyu’usee/) and 一級品 (“first-rate goods” /ikyuuhin/).

  1. The kanji 給 “to supply; be given”

History of Kanji 給The right side合 of the kanji 給 was used phonetically for /kyuu/ to mean “to fill a gap.” With the left side 糸, they meant “to meet what is deficient.” The kanji 給 meant “to supply.”

The kun-yomi 給う /tama’u/ means “to be given (by a superior person)” humble style; “(a superior person) to give.” The on-yomi /kyuu/ is in 給料 (“salary; wage” /kyu’uryoo/), 給与 (“salary; wage” /kyu’uyo/), 支給する (“to pay; provide” /shikyuu-suru/) and 給油 (“refueling; oil supply” /kyuuyu.)

We will continue with a bushu itohen in the next post.  Thank you very much. -Noriko [March 18, 2017]

The Kanji 盾循干刊汗

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This is a short post in finishing up with kanji that originated from two weapons– 盾循 and 干刊汗.

  1. The kanji 盾 “shield”

history-of-kanji-%e7%9b%beIn oracle bone style, in brown, and bronze ware style, in green, it was an image of a shield. The seal style writing, in red, had a canopy-like shape and an eye with a cross shape. Following Setsumon’s explanation, which is based on the seal style, many scholars view this as a shield which protected the eyes of a soldier and his body. The kanji 盾 meant “shield.”

The kun-yomi 盾 /tate’/ meant “shield,” and /-date/ is in 後ろ盾 (“support; backing” /ushirodate/).  The on-yomi /jun/ is in 矛盾 (“contradiction; inconsistency” /mujun/) that comprises 矛 “halberd” for attacking an enemy and 盾 “shield” for defending oneself.

  1. The kanji 循 “to follow”

history-of-kanji-%e5%be%aaThe left side of the seal style writing was a crossroad, signifying “going” and the right side 盾 “shield” was also used phonetically for /jun/ to mean “to follow; go along.” The kanji 循 meant “to follow.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /jun/ is in 循環 (“cycle; circulation; rotation” /junkan/).

  1. The kanji 干 “dry; attack”

history-of-kanji-%e5%b9%b2rIn oracle bone, bronze ware and ten styles, it was a forked weapon. The kanji 干 meant “to violate; attack.” However, this kanji is rarely used to mean aggression, except in the word 干渉 “interference; meddling.” It was borrowed to mean “dry; dry up.”

The kun-yomi /hi/ is in 干からびる (“to shrivel up; shrink” /hikarabi’ru/), 干物 (“dried fish” /himono/). Another kun-yomi /ho’su/ means “to air under the sun,” as used in 布団を干す /huton o hosu/ “to air futon under the sun.” The on-yomi /kan/ is in 干渉する (“to interfere; meddle” /kanshoo-suru/), 干拓 (“reclamation by drainage” /kantaku/) and 干害 (“drought damage” /kangai/).

  1. The kanji 刊 “to publish”

history-of-kanji-%e5%88%8aFor the kanji 刊, the left side (干) of the seal style writing was used phonetically for /kan/ to mean “to shave a piece of wood.” The right side was a knife. By using a knife, printing blocks were shaved to make a book. In kanji the knife became刂,a bushu rittoo “knife.” The kanji 刊 meant “to publish.”

There is no fun-yomi. The on-yomi /kan/ is in 月刊誌 (“monthly magazine” /gekka’nshi/), 朝刊 (“morning paper” /chookan/), 刊行 (“publication” /kankoo/), 新刊本 (“new publication; new title” /shinkanbon/).

  1. The kanji 汗 “perspiration; sweat”

history-of-kanji-%e6%b1%97For the kanji 汗, the left side of the seal style was “water,” which became a bushu sanzui in kanji (). The right side was used phonetically for /kan/. The kanji 汗 meant “perspiration; sweat.”

The kun-yomi /a’se/ means “perspiration; sweat” and is in 汗をかく(“to sweat; perspire” /a’se-o kaku/) and 冷や汗 (“cold sweat” /hiyaa’se/).  The on-yomi /kan/ is in 発汗 (“sweating” /hakkan/).

It is time for us to move onto another subject. I have not decided which groups of “things and objects” we may start with next time yet. Thank you very much for your reading. -Noriko [March 5, 2017]

The Kanji 黄横広拡鉱矢知侯候喉- 黄 “fire arrow” and 矢 “arrow”

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In this post we are going to look at the kanji that originated from “fire arrow” (黄) – 黄横広拡鉱 −, and “arrow” (矢) – 矢知侯候喉.

  1. The kanji 黄 “yellow; golden”

history-of-kanji-%e9%bb%84%e8%89%b2For the kanji 黄 in oracle bone style, in brown, bronze ware style, in green, and seal style, in red, it was a fire arrow with an arrowhead at the top, combustible materials in the middle and feathers at the bottom. When a fire arrow was shot, it illuminated an area. The yellow color of this light became the meaning of this kanji. The kanji 黄 meant “yellow; golden.”

The kun-yomi 黄 /ki/ means “yellow,” and is in 黄色 (“yellow” /kiiro/), 黄緑色 (“light green” /kimidoriiro/) and 卵の黄身 (“egg yolk” /tama’go-no kimi/). The on-yomi /oo/ is in 黄金の (“golden” /oogon-no/) and 卵黄 (“egg yolk” /ran-oo/). Another on-yomi /koo/ is in 黄葉 (“yellowing of autumn leaves” /kooyoo/) and 黄河 (“the Yellow River (in China)” /ko’oga/). (The word 黄金色 is also read as /koganeiro/.  /ko/ is listed as a kun-yomi on the Joyo kanji list.)

  1. The kanji 横 “side; sideways; wicked; wrong”

history-of-kanji-%e6%a8%aaFor the kanji 横, the bronze ware style writing was the same as 黄. In seal style 木 “wood” was added on the left, and the right side was used phonetically for /oo/, and meant “sideways,” from a fire arrow illuminating both sides as it traveled. Together they signified a piece of wood placed sideways as a latch on a gate. From that it meant “side; sideways.” Something that goes sideways could be going outside the legitimate areas, thus, it also meant “wicked; wrong.”

The kun-yomi 横 /yoko/ means “side; sideways,” and is in 真横 (“right next to; side” /mayoko/), 縦と横 (“length and width” /ta’te-to yoko/), 横這い (“leveling off” /yokobai/), 横槍を入れる (“to butt in; interrupt” /yokoyari-o-ireru/), 横流しする (“to sell illegally” /yokonagashi-suru/). The on-yomi /oo/ is in 横断歩道 (“pedestrian crossing” /oodanho’doo/), 縦横に (“in every direction; crisscrossing” /juuo’o ni/), 横暴な (“oppressive; tyrannical” /ooboo-na/) and 横領 (“embezzlement; misappropriation” /ooryoo/).

  1. The kanji 広 “wide; spacious”

history-of-kanji-%e5%ba%83For the kanji 広, in (a) in oracle bone style the top was a house, and the inside was a fire arrow that signified “wide.” (b) and (c) in bronze ware style had a house with one side open, which (d) in seal style became 广, a bushu gandare “house with one side open.” In shinjitai (f)  the inside of the kyujitai (e) 廣 was replaced by a katakana ム, which is one of the simplifying shapes.  The kanji 広 meant “wide; spacious.”

The kun-yomi /hiro’i/ means “wide; spacious,” and is in 広場 (“open area” /hi’roba/).  /-Biro/ is in 手広くやる (“do business extensively” /tebiroku yaru/).  The on-yomi /koo/ is in 広告 (“advertisement” /kookoku/) and 広報 (“public information; public relations PR” /ko’ohoo; koohoo/).

  1. The kanji 拡 “to widen”

history-of-kanji-%e6%8b%a1For The kanji 拡, the seal style had扌, a bushu tehen “act that one does by hand.” Together with the kanji 廣 “wide” they meant “to widen.” The kyujitai 擴 was simplified to 拡. By an agent of action ,“hand,” the kanji 拡 is used as a verb, whereas 広 was an adjective.  Until the 2010 revision of Joyo kanji (that is, 1981 version), the kun-yomi /hiro/ was not in Joyo kanji, and 広 was often used. So we see both 広げる and 拡げる in print.

The kun-yomi 拡げる /hirogeru/ means “to widen,” as a transitive verb.  The on-yomi /kaku/ is in 拡張する (“to expand” /kakuchoo-suru/) and 拡大 (“enlargement” /kakudai/).

  1. The kanji 鉱 “ore; mineral”

history-of-kanji-%e9%89%b1For the kanji 鉱 Old style was shown in gray. The seal style writing had 石 “rock” on the left, and the right side 黄 was used phonetically for /koo/. Together they meant “ore; mineral; rock.” In kyujitai 鑛, the left side became 金, a bushu kanehen “metal; mineral,” and the right side became 廣 with a madare, which was further replaced by 広 in shinjitai. The kanji 鉱 means “ore; mineral.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /koo/ is in 鉱山 (“mine” /ko’ozan/), 鉱物 (“minerals” /ko’obutsu/) and 炭鉱 (“coal mine” /tankoo/).

The next 15 or so kanji that we are going to look at in this and next posts deal with an arrow, 矢, and its variants.

  1. The kanji 矢 “arrow”

history-of-kanji-%e7%9f%a2For the kanji 矢, in oracle bone style and bronze ware style it was an arrow with an arrowhead at the top and feathers at the bottom. The seal style writing became much less an image of an arrow. In kanji a short slanted stroke emphasized the arrowhead. The kanji 矢 meant “arrow.”

The kun-yomi 矢 /ya’/ means “arrow,” and is in 弓矢 (“bow and arrow” /yumi’ya/). The expression 白羽の矢が当たる means (“the choice falls on (someone)” /shiraha-no-ya’-ga-ataru). The on-yomi /shi/ is in the expression 一矢報いる (“to shoot back; give a small blow back; retaliate” /i’sshi mukuiru/) and 嚆矢 (“beginning” /ko’oshi/).

A personal note on the word 嚆矢 — Having lived away from Japan so many years and spending my reading time mostly on linguistics and others written in English I had less chance to encounter complex or less frequently used words in Japanese. One day while I was keeping company with my then-90-year-old mother in her room in Japan and working on my materials, I was looking for on-reading words for 矢 /shi/. I found 嚆矢 /ko’oshi/, a word that I had never used myself, and had to look up how to read it. Then, I felt a funny urge to say to my mother, “Mother, do you know what /ko’oshi/ with the kanji /ya/ means?” For a moment she looked puzzled, probably thinking that I was testing her mental ability in her advanced age. My unassuming soft-spoken mother answered, “Do you mean the word for beginning?” After a pause she picked up a pen and started scribbling down the word in kanji on a piece of paper. I had to smile at her with pride and amazement.

I was a product of post-war education in which kanji were simplified, prose made plain and complex words pushed away. It was only in high school that we studied classical Japanese. On the other hand someone who was schooled for fewer years in the Taisho and early Showa eras received an education that equipped her to read much better. Undoubtedly my not living in Japan had something to do with it, but nonetheless it was a humbling experience. At the same time it made me think about the quality of the language education that I received after the post-war national language reform.

(Incidentally the kanji 嚆 means “(whistling) sound of an arrow being shot” and is non-Joyo kanji.)

  1. The kanji 知 “to know”

history-of-kanji-%e7%9f%a5For the kanji 短, the seal style writing had 矢 “arrow,” which also meant “to vow.” The right side, 口 “mouth,” signified “word; language.” Together they signified “to vow to a god.”  Knowledge was what the god gave. From that the kanji 知 meant “to know.”

The kun-yomi 知 /shiru/ means “to know.” The on-yomi /chi/ is in 知人 (“acquaintance” /chijin/), 知事 (“prefectural governor” /chi’ji/), 承知する (“to consent to; accept; know” /shoochi-suru/), 熟知する (“to know well; have thorough knowledge of” /ju’kuchi-suru/), 知能 (“intelligence; mental faculties” /chi’noo/), 知覚 (“perception; sensory” /chikaku/), 周知の (“common knowledge” /shu’uchi-no/) and 機知に富んだ (“witty; resourceful” /ki’chi-ni-tonda/).

The next two kanji 侯 and 候 share the same origin and their developments were intertwined.

  1. The kanji 侯 “(feudal) lord; marquis”

history-of-kanji-%e4%be%afFor the kanji 侯, (a) in oracle bone style and (b) and (c) in bronze ware style had an arrow under a canopy or target range, signifying “to shoot an arrow.” In (d) in seal style, a person bending his back foward to watch out was added at the top. Together they meant the title of a person who oversaw shooting arrows against an enemy – “feudal lord; lord.” Later on it became one of the five levels of titles in the order of 公侯伯子男 based on Confucious. The kanji 侯 meant “lord; marquis.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /koo/ is in 諸侯 (“feudal lords” /sho’koo/) and 侯爵 (“marquisa” /ko’oshaku/).

  1. The kanji 候 “scout; climate; be”

history-of-kanji-%e5%80%99For the kanji 候 the bronze ware style writing had an arrow and a house or canopy, the same components as 侯. In seal style, in addition to a person crouching watching out at the top (侯), another person (イ) was added on the left side. This was to differentiate the two meanings that 侯 originally had – “lord” from shooting arrows, and “to watch for a sign of an enemy; scout,” the latter of which became the meaning of the kanji 候 “to peep; watch for a sign.” Weather or climate was something one judged or forecast from atmospheric signs, so it was used to discuss season or weather. In classical Japanese, 候 /sooro’o/ meant “to be” for /~de aru/ in old epistolary style.  The kanji 候 meant “to scout; climate; be.”

The kun-yomi 候 /sooro’o/ is a classic verb “to be.” The on-yomi /koo/ is in 気候 (“climate” /kikoo/), 天候 (“weather” /tenkoo/), 斥候 (“scout” /sekkoo/), 候文 (“old epistolary style writing in classical Japanese” /sooro’obun/) and 居候 (“a person living in someone’s else’s house without paying; free loader” /isooroo/).

  1. The kanji 喉 “throat”

history-of-kanji-%e5%96%89For the kanji 喉, the seal style writing had 口 “mouth” next to the shape (d) in 侯, which was used phonetically for /koo/. Together they meant “throat.”

The kun-yomi 喉 /no’do/ means “throat.” The on-yomi /koo/ is 耳鼻咽喉科 (“ear nose and throat specialist; otolaryngology” /ji’bi inkooka.) and 喉頭炎 (“laryngitis” /kooto’oen/).

In the next post we continue to add more kanji with 矢 and introduce its variants. Thank you very much for your reading.  –Noriko [February 19. 2017]