The Kanji 心思急恩念応 – こころ (1)


The kanji 心 “heart” appears in a large number of kanji that are related to mental and emotional experiences. So I expect that our discussion of these kanji will stretch over a few postings.

 (1) The kanji 心 “heart; mind; core”

History of the kanji 心In bronze ware style, in green, and ten style, in red, it was an anatomical shape of the chambers of a heart. In ten style an artery was added. It meant “heart” as in the part of one’s body and “heart; mind” as in emotion. The heart being the center of the body and important, it is also used to mean “essential; core.”

The kun-yomi /kokoro’/ means “heart; mind; feelings,” whereas the on-yomi /shi’n/ is in the 心臓 /shinzoo/ “heart,” as in the part of the body. The kun-yomi /kokoro’/ is in 心から (“sincerely; truly” /kokoro’kara/), 心がける (“to be mindful of” /kokorogake’ru/), 気心の知れた (“trusted” /kigokoronoshireta/). /Koko/ is in 心地よい (“to feel good; pleasant” /kokochiyo’i/). The on-yomi /shi’n; ji’n/ is in 心配する (“to be worried” /shinpai-suru/), 安心する (“to feel relieved” /anshin-suru/), 中心 (“central; middle” /chuushin/) and 肝心な (“essential; point of” /kanjin-na/.)

 (2) The kanji 思 “to think”

History of the kanji 思In ten style, the top of the kanji 思 was a baby’s fontanel that was viewed from above. (A fontanel is the soft spot between the bones on a new-born baby’s head.) It signified “brain.” The bottom was a “heart.” “Brain” and “heart” together meant “to think.” In the last post, we looked at the kanji 考 “to think.” What is the difference between 思 and 考, both of which means “to think,”in English is an often asked question by a student. The verb /kanga’eru/ (考える) was using one’s mind actively or thinking logically, taking time to think matters over. In kanji 考, the bushu oigashira came from an image of an elder with long hair and a cane, and it indicated “taking time.” The process of deliberate thinking takes time. On the other hand the verb /omo’o/ (思う) means that a thought, idea, feeling or opinion comes to you, usually spontaneously.

The kun-yomi 思う /omo’o/ is in 思い出す (“to recall; remember; recollect” /omoida’su/), 思い出 (“memory” /omoide/), 思いがけず (“unexpectedly” /omoigake’zu/).  It is interesting to know that the words in on-yomi /shi/ do not necessarily imply spontaneity. It is in 思考 (“thought’ thinking” /shikoo/), 思想 (“thought; ideology” /shisoo/), 思考力 (“ability to think” /shiko’oryoku/) and 意思 (“one’s will; intent” /i’shi/).  So the distinction between 思う and 考える that I have just written may apply only to those words.

 (3) The kanji 急 “to hasten; rush” and 及 “to reach; also”

History of the kanji 急The kanji 急 “to hasten” has a surprise “cousin” — the kanji 及 “to reach; extend; in addition to.” How could the kanji 急 and 及 be related other than having the same on-sound /kyuu/?  The answer lies in the ancient writing, not only in the meanings but also the shapes. For the kanji 急 we only have a ten style sample shown on the left. The top was a person (he had very long arms, didn’t he?); the middle was what I call a sideways hand (of someone else); and at the bottom was a heart. The exact same shape appeared in the kanji 及. The kanji 及 has a fuller inventory of ancient writing, as shown on the right. Since we have not discussed this kanji before, let us look at it now.

History of the kanji 及The kanji 及 — In 及, the two oracle bone style samples, in brown, were a mirror image of each other, featuring a person and a hand from behind catching his leg. It was someone trying to reach from behind, and it meant “to reach; chase.” In bronze ware style, the left sample had a bigger sideways hand, focusing on “to catch; reach,” and the right sample had a crossroad, indicating that two people were moving. In ten style the crossroad dissappeared. In kanji the person and a hand from behind coalesced into the current shape. It meant “to reach over; extend; also.”

The kun-yomi is in the verb 及ぶ (“to reach; extend; stretch” /oyobu/) and in the connecter 及び (“and; in addition to” /oyobi/). The on-yomi /kyu’u/ is in  追及する (“to investigate; accuse” /tsuikyuu-suru/) and 波及する (“to infect; extend” /hakyuu-suru/). Other kanji that contain the shape 及 include the kanji 吸 “to suck; absorb” and 扱 “to handle; deal.”

Now back to the kanji 急. We can see now that the ten style of the kanji 急 was really 及 and 心 combined. From a feeling of being chased, it meant “to hurry; rush.” In kanji, the shape of a person reached by the hand is better preserved in 急 than in 及. It is noteworthy that even though the kanji 急 belongs to semantic-phonetic composite writing (形声文字 /keeseemo’ji/), the element that was used for a phonetic purpose clearly demonstrated semantic relevance as well.

The kun-yomi 急ぐ /iso’gu/ means “to hurry; rush.” Another kun-yomi /se/ in 急かす /seka’su/ (“to rush someone”) is a transitive verb, while 気がせく /kigase’ku/ (“to feel rushed”) is an intransitive verb. The on-yomi /kyu’u/ is in 急に (“suddenly; abruptly” /kyuuni/), 急行 (“express” /kyuukoo/) and 急速に (“rapidly” /kyuusoku-ni/).

(4) The kanji 恩 “indebtedness; goodness; favor”

History of the kanji 恩In the ten style writing of the kanji 恩, the top 因 had a person (大) sleeping on a floor mat, and was used phonetically. By itself it was the kanji 因 /i’n/ “to be based on; dependent on.” The bottom was a heart. With a heart 心 added at the bottom to 因, the kanji 恩 meant “goodness; a debt of gratitude.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /o’n/ is in 恩がある (“to be indebted; feel grateful for a favor” /o’n-ga-aru/), 恩人 (“benefactor; patron” /onjin/), 恩返しする (“to repay out of gratitude” /onga’eshi-suru/), 恩義 (“obligation; favor” /o’ngi/), 恩恵 (“benefit; blessing; grace” /onkee/.)

(5) The kanji 念  “long-held thought; for confirmation”

History of the kanji 念In bronze ware style and ten style, the top of the kanji 念 was a lid or a stopper for a rice wine cask. The bottom was a heart. Together they meant something that one kept inside his heart for a long time, that is, “to ponder; thought.” We recognize the top to be another kanji 今 “now.” History of the kanji 今

The kanji 今 had the same development, as shown on the right. The shape was borrowed to mean “now,” but the interpretation that a stopper for a wine wine cask signifying catching the present moment makes sense to me. The kanji 今 meant “present time; now.”

There is no kun-yomi for 念. The on-yomi /ne’n/ is in 念じる (“to pray” /nenjiru/), 残念な (“pitiful; sorrowful; regrettable” /zanne’n-na/), 念入りな (“careful; elaborate” /nen-iri-na/), 念を押す (“to remind; make sure” /nenoosu/), 念のため (“just to make sure; for confirmation” /nennotame/), 念仏を唱える (“to chant a prayer to the Buddha” /nenbutsu-o tonae’ru/).

(6) The kanji 応・應 “to respond (willingly)”

History of the kanji 応The kanji 応 had a kyujitai that was much more complex, 應, shown in blue on the left side. In bronze ware style, all three writings had a bird that returned to the eave of a house. The bird is believed to be a hawk, which swiftly returns on command. I have noticed that all of the bronze ware style samples in the reference (there were six of them in Akai 2010) had a dot or a line on the left side of the bird. Just to make sure that it was not a simple bump that showed up in the reference materials, or even in copying the original, I have looked up a photo of 毛公鼎 in Ishikawa (1996), which provided an image in better quality, and it was there too. To my disappointment I still cannot make out what that extra dot or line next to the bird meant. We only have one sample of ten style, but in it a couple of more changes took place — The eave of the house became a table with legs, and a heart was added at the bottom. Altogether, they signified “to respond willingly like a hawk returning swiftly at the command of a person. In kyujitai, the top left became a bush madare “a house with one side wall open.” In shinjitai, the person and the bird were dropped, leaving a madare and a heart only. The kanji 応 means “to respond (willingly).”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /o’o/ is in 応じる (“to respond willingly; comply” /oojiru/), 応募する (“to apply for” /oobo-suru/), 相応の (“suitable; appropriate” /soooo-no/). It is also read as /no’o/ in 反応 (“reaction” /hannoo/).

We have looked at only six kanji with 心 so far. We obviously need to continue to look at many more kanji that contain 心, so I had better stop here until our next post. [February 7, 2015]