The Kanji 丁打訂頂予序預幻互緑録克- Tool (2)

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In this second post on kanji that originated from “carpenter’s tools” we are going to explore the kanji 丁打訂頂(丁), 予序預幻(予), 互, 緑録(彔) and 克.

  1.  The kanji 丁 “a square block; counter for a square section”

History of Kanji 丁There are two different meanings associated with the ancient writings of 丁 – one is “an area; a square” and another “a nailhead” that was viewed from above or from the side. (In our blogs, oracle bone style is shown in brown; bronze ware style in green; and seal style in red.) A nail got pounded down flat in a straight angle, thus it meant something “right angle; flat,” and “a square block.” In Japan it is used as a counter for a square block as well as in an address for a section of an areas in a large city, such as 銀座四丁目 (“Fourth block of the Ginza area in Tokyo” /ginza-yonchoome/). The kanji 丁 means “a (square) block; section; counter for a section.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /choo/ is in 丁度 (“just; precisely; barely” /choodo/), and 三丁目 (“3-chome; third block” /sanchoome/). Another on-yomi /tee/ is in 丁寧な (“polite” /te’enee-na/) and 丁重に (“courteously; respectfully” /teechoo-ni/). The expression 一丁上がり /icchooagari/ means “Now finished!; the dish is ready!” We used to buy tofu at a tofu shop by small blocks, such as お豆腐二丁下さい (“May I have two pieces of tofu, please?” /otoohu ni’choo-kudasai/), but nowadays tofu comes in a plastic container in all sorts of sizes and 丁 is no longer needed.

  1. The kanji 打 “to hit; pound on”

History of Kanji 打The seal style writing of the kanji 打 comprised “a hand; an act that one does using a hand” and 丁 “square; a right angle.” Together a hand over a nailhead meant “to hit; strike hard.” 打 was also used to make a word without adding the meaning “to hit.” The kanji 打 means “to hit; pound on.” <Composition of the kanji: 扌and 丁>

The kun-yomi 打つ /u’tsu/ means “to hit; strike hard,” and is in 打ち消す (“to negate; contradict” /uchikesu/) and 打ち上げる (“to launch; conclude” /uchiageru/). The on-yomi /da/ is in 打撃 (“batting; damage; blow” /dageki/), 打者 (“slugger; batter” /da’sha/), 打楽器 (“percussion instructment” /daga’kki/), 打算的な (“calculating” /dasanteki-na/) and 一網打尽 (“making a roundup arrest” /ichimoo-dajin/).

  1.  The kanji 訂 ‘to correct; revise; amend”

History of Kanji 訂The seal style writing of the kanji 訂 comprised 言 “word; language; to say” and 丁 “straight; right angle,” which was used phonetically for /tee/.  Together they meant “to make words right.” The kanji 訂 means “to correct; revise; amend.” <Composition of the kanji 訂: 言 and 丁>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /tee/ is in 訂正 (“correction; revision” /teesee/) and 改訂版 (“revised edition” /kaiteeban/).

  1. The kanji 頂 “summit; top”

History of Kanji 頂The seal style writing comprised 丁 “a flat nailhead,” which was used phonetically for /choo/, and 頁, a bushu oogai “head,” from a man with formal headdress. Together they meant “a flat top area; summit; the top of one’s head.” In Japanese this kanji is also used for a humble verb for “to receive.” Comparing to another kanji 戴 for “to receive,” 頂 is used more casually. The kanji 頂 means “summit; top; to receive (humble style).” <Composition of the kanji 訂:  丁 and 頁>

The kun-yomi 頂く /itadaku/ means “to receive; hold above one’s head,” and is also in 山の頂 “mountain summit” /yama-no-itadaki/). The on-yomi /choo/ is in 頂上 (“top; summit” /choojo’o/), 有頂天 (“ecstatic; rapturous” /ucho’oten/) and 仏頂面をする (“to look sullen” /bucchoozura-o-suru/).

The component 予 appear in 予序預, and oddly in 幻 coming from the upside shape of 予.

  1. The kanji 予 “in advance; preliminary; allowances”

History of Kanji 予For the kanji 予 there are two different writings (a) and (b) in seal style to account for the kyuji (c), in blue, and the shinji (d). (a) was a “weaving shuttle with a thread hanging down.” A weaving shuttle was pushed through the warps that were loosened on the loom. From “making room in advance of a shuttle’s passing” the kanji 予 meant “in advance; preliminary; allowances.” (b) had 象 “elephant,” which had been explained that the large size and slow movement of an elephant signified “large; relaxed; loose.” (c) reflected (b). In shinji, 象 was dropped. The kanji 予 means “in advance; preliminary.” The kanji for the original meaning, a weaving shuttle, is the non-Joyo kanji 杼 with a bushu kihen “wooden.” <Composition of the kanji 予: マ and 了>

The kun-yomi 予め /arakajime/ means “in advance.” The on-yomi /yo/ is in 予定 (“schedule; plan” /yotee/), 余裕 (“allowances; additional coverage” /yoyuu/) and 猶予 (“hesitation; postponement” /yu’uyo/).

  1. The kanji 序 “order; beginning of an order”

History of Kanji 序For the kanji 序, the top left of the seal style writing was the eaves or an addition to a house. Under that 予 “extra room” was used phonetically for /jo/. The extended area next to the main house was used as a place or school where propriety was taught. From that the kanji 序 meant “order; beginning of an order.” It is sometimes used for the word 序でに “while I am at it (I do another thing); taking the opportunity,” perhaps from the sense of order.<Composition of the kanji 序: 广 and 予>

The kun-yomi 序でに “while (you) are at it” (not on the Joyo kanji list). The on-yomi /jo/ is 順序 (“order” /ju’njo/), 秩序 (“order; discipline” /chitsu’jo/), 序曲 (“prelude” /jo’kyoku/), 年功序列 (“seniority system” /nenkoojo’retsu/) and 序の口 (“lowest ranking” /jonokuchi/).

  1. The kanji 預 “to deposit; temporary custody”

History of Kanji 預For the kanji 預 the left side of the seal style writing was 予 “roomy; extra,” which was used phonetically for /yo/. The right side 頁 was a man with a ceremonial hat or a “head.” How they came to mean “to deposit; leave something for a temporary custody” is not clear, perhaps it signified an act that one does for future purpose. The kanji 預 means “to leave for a temporary custody; deposit.” <Composition of the kanji 預:  予 and 頁>

The kun-yomi 預ける /azuke’ru/ means “to deposit; leave for temporary custody” and its intransitive counterpart 預かる /azuka’ru/ means “to keep; take care of.” The on-yomi /yo/ is in 預金 (“bank deposit; saving in a bank” /yokin/).

  1. The kanji 幻 “illusion; magic”

History of Kanji 幻The ancient writing for the kanji 幻 was the upside down image of 予, showing the thread coming out at the top. Pulling a shuttle in the wrong way caused confusion in weaving, signifying something that was not correct or real, thus “illusion.” Very clever!  The kanji 幻 means “illusion; magic.”

The kun-yomi 幻 /maboroshi/ means “illusion.” The on-yomi /gen/ is in 幻想的な (“fantastic; visionary” /gensooteki-na/) and 幻覚 (“hallucination” /genkaku/).

  1. The kanji 互 “each other; alternately”

History of Kanji 互For the kanji 互 the seal style writing was “a tool to make a rope by twisting threads alternately from two of more sides.” The kanji 互 means “each other; alternately.”

The kun-yomi 互い /tagai/ means “mutual; each other” and is in 互い違い (“alternate” /tagaichi’gai/). The on-yomi /go/ is in 交互に (“alternately” /ko’ogo-ni/), 相互の (“mutual” /so’ogo-no/), 互角の (“well-matched; equal” /gogaku-no/) and 互換性 (“compatibility” /gokansee/).

History of Kanji 彔The component 彔 – The right side 彔 of the kyuji for the kanji 緑 and 録 had its own history as shown on the right. It was a twisting devise for wringing wet threads or drilling a piece of wood, creating spills around. It was phonetically /roku/.

10. The kanji 緑 “green”
History of Kanji 緑For the kanji 緑 (a) in oracle bone style and (c) in the styles found in documents, in gray, and (d) in seal style had a skein of threads (糸). The right side was a twisting devise for wringing wet threads or drilling a piece of wood, creating spills around or sawdust. It was also used phonetically for /roku/ to mean “green.” A skein of threads that was green gave the meaning “green.” The kanji 緑 means “color of green.” <Composition of the kanji 緑: 糸, ヨ with a long stroke and 氺>

The kun-yomi 緑 /mi’dori/ means “green.” The on-yomi /ryoku/ is in 緑化運動 (“tree-planting drive” /ryokka-u’ndoo/) and 新緑 (“fresh green; new leaves in spring” /shinryoku/), 常緑樹 (“evergreen tree” /jooryoku’ju/) and 緑茶 (“green tea” /ryokucha/). Another on-yomi /roku/ is in 緑青 (“copper green rust; verdigris patina” /rokusho’o/).

  1.  The kanji 録 “to record”

History of Kanji 録For the kanji 録, in seal style 金 “metal” and 彔 “green” together meant greenish color of bronze ware, on which record of important events were cast, and was used phonetically for /roku/ “to record.” The kanji 録 means “records; to record.” <Composition of the kanji 録: 金, ヨ with a long stroke and 氺>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /roku/ is in 記録 (“record” /kiroku/), 目録  (“catalogue; inventory” /mokuroku/), 実録 (“papers; authentic record” /jitsuroku/), 回顧録 (“memoirs” /kaiko’roku/), 議事録 (“minutes; proceeding of meeting” /giji’roku/) and 登録 (“registration” /tooroku/).

  1. The kanji 克 “to overcome”

History of Kanji 克The kanji 克 had a stream of records from the ancient times. How we interpret them is another matter. One view is that (a) and (b) in oracle bone style (c) in bronze ware style was “a curved knife with a large handle at the top and that a handgrip on the side that was used to core out.” (d) in Old style showed that it had saw-dust. The writing was borrowed to mean “to overcome.” Another view is that the ancient writings was a person with a heavy helmet, sitting with his legs bent and enduring the weight. In this account the kanji shape 克 is explained as a person (兄) with a helmet. In my view whichever appeals to you for your study should be fine. The kanji 克 means “to overcome.” <Composition of the kanji 克: a short 十 and 兄>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /koku/ is in 克服 (“to overcome” /kokuhuku-suru/), 克己心 (“self-control” /kokki’shin/), 克明な (“scrupulous; minute” /kokumee-na/) and 下克上 “social upheaval; junior dominating senior” /gekoku’joo/).

I expect that we shall have a couple or three more posts on kanji that originated from a tool. Thank you very much for your reading. – Noriko [December 16, 2017]

The Kanji 田画畑留界介町丁 – 田 (1)

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  1. The kanji 田 “rice paddies”

History of Kanji 田We have looked at the origin of the kanji 田 “rice paddies” earlier when we discussed the kanji 男 [December 19, 2014, post]. Since then several bronze ware style samples have come to my attention, so I am adding a couple of bronze ware style samples here, in green. The oracle bone style samples, in brown, had more than a single line vertically and/or horizontally inside the rectangular shape. It was rice paddies and the lines signified levees. In the beginning stage of growing rice, fields are immersed in water inside raised ridges. Those strips of raised land also served as a footpath. The writing meant “rice paddies.” In bronze ware style, the rice paddies were simplified to four paddies. The proportion of the ten style sample, in red, was typical of ten style, which was longer than it was wide.

The kun-yomi /ta/ is in 田んぼ (田圃) /tanbo/ “rice paddies.” The on-yomi /de’n/ is in 水田 (“irrigated rice paddies” /suiden/), 油田 (“oil field” /yuden/), 炭田 (“coal field” /tanden/). It is also customarily used for the word 田舎 (“countryside” /inaka/).

  1. The kanji 画 “drawing; plan”

History of Kanji 画For the kanji 画, in bronze ware style, it had a hand holding a brush at the top, and rice paddies at the bottom. An official recording a boundary of rice paddies meant “boundary; to draw.”  In ten style, the lines surrounded rice paddies to show the boundaries in four directions. In kyujitai, in blue, it consisted of 聿 “to write” from a hand holding a brush, 田 “rice paddies,” and another line underneath 一. In shinjitai, the top was reduced to just 一, and below that 由, instead of 田, was placed inside a receptacle shape 凵.

There is no kun-yomi for 画 in the Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /ga/ is in 画家 (“painter” /gaka/), 画面 (“screen” /ga’men; gamen/), and 漫画 (“comics” /manga/). Another on-yomi /ka’ku/ is in 企画する (“to make a plan; propose a project” /kikaku-suru/), 画数 (“number of writing strokes” /kakusu’u/), 九画 (“nine strokes” /kyu’ukaku/), and 画する (“to mark an epoch or boundary” /kaku-su’ru/).

  1. The kanji 畑 “agricultural field; specialty”

No ancient writing existed because this was created in Japan. It is a 国字 (“kanji that was created in Japan” /kokuji/). All kokuji are a composite of two semantic components. The kanji 畑 is no exception – it consists of the kanji 火 “fire” and the kanji 田 “rice paddies.” The agricultural fields that were not immersed in water would occasionally be burned to give the soil certain nutrients. Together they signified an agricultural field that was not necessarily irrigated. It meant “agricultural field.” The word /tanbo/ 田んぼ is used for rice paddies whereas the word /hatake/ 畑 is used for field that is not immersed in water. 畑 is also used for a more general sense of one’s field, such as a specialty of one’s work.

The kun-yomi /hatake/ 畑 means “agricultural field,” and is in 田畑 (“farm; field” /ta’hata/), 畑仕事 (“field work” /hatakeshi’goto/), 花畑 (“flower field” /hanaba’take/), 畑違い (“different area of expertise” /hatakechi’gai/), 化学畑 (“chemistry field” /kagakuba’take/).

  1. The kanji 留 “to stay; remain; fasten”

History of Kanji 留For the origin of the kanji 留, we discuss two different interpretations here. One from Shirakawa is that in bronze ware style the left side was a stream of water with two pools of water on both sides, and the right side was rice paddies. The pools of water signified something “to stay in one place” like water in rice paddies. It meant “to stay; remain.” In ten style the two elements were placed up and down.

History of Kanji 留 (old kanji photos)Another interpretation is from the Kadokawa dictionary. It does not refer to the bronze ware style sample above. Instead, it appears to be based on writing from later time, including from official seal samples and a stele, as shown on the right side. In this account, the top was explained to be the kanji 卯 “horse’s bridle” and the bottom 由 was used phonetically to mean “to put a bridle on firmly.” Together tying a horse to a tree by the bridle to keep it in one place signified “to fasten” and “to remain.” In the Key to Kanji book I took the latter view. Now I am wondering if both accounts can be possible to explain “to remain” and “to fasten.” In shinjitai kanji the symmetrical shapes at the top (卯) were replaced by two different shapes.

The kun-yomi 留める /tomeru/ means “to fasten.” Another kun-yomi 留まる /todoma’ru/ means “to stay in a place.” The on-yomi /ryu’u/ is in 留学 (“study in a foreign country” /ryuugaku/), 留意する (“to pay enough attention to” /ryu’ui-suru/). Another on-yomi /ru/ is in 留守にする (“to be absent from home” /ru’su-ni-suru/) and 留守番 (“house sitter; staying home” (during a family is away) /rusuban/).

  1. The kanji 界 “world; area” and 介 “to help; mediate”

History of Kanji 界For the kanji 界, in ten style, the left side was rice paddies, and the right side was used phonetically for /ka’i/ to mean “something between.” The history of the kanji 介 is shown on the right.

History of Kanji 介(frame)The Kanji 介; In oracle bone style a person was standing sandwiched by two dots on both sides. It signified a person wearing armor in the front and on the back. A hard casing such as armor was also used for shellfish, as in the word 魚介類 (“fish and shellfish” /gyoka’irui/). A person sandwiched between two sides signified someone who “mediates two sides” or “help.” So the kanji 介 meant “to help; mediate.”

For the kanji 界, 田 ”rice paddies” and 介 “a person in the middle” together signified the area inside the boundaries. What is inside a boundary is also a world. It meant “world.” In shinjitai, the rice paddies 田 is placed on top of 介.

There is no kun-yomi for 界. The on-yomi /ka’i/ is in 世界 (“world” /se’kai/), 限界 (“limit” /genkai/), 境界 (“boundary” /kyookai/), 財界 (“financial world; business circle” /zaikai/), 他界する (“to die” /takai-suru/).

  1. The kanji 町 “town”

History of Kanji 町For the kanji 町, in ten style, the left side was neatly arranged rice paddies. The right side was 丁. The history of the kanji 丁 is shown on the right.

History of Kanji 丁The kanji 丁: In the oracle bone style of 丁, it was the top of a nail that was viewed from the above. In bronze ware style, the nail was viewed from the side. A nail is pounded down in a right angle. In ten style it became stylized. 丁 meant something that had a right angle such as a block. (We discussed 丁 when we looked at the kanji 打 in the June 7, 2014, post.)

For the kanji 町, 田 “rice paddies” and 丁 “block” together meant the land that had blocks and junctions, that is a “town.” /Cho’o/ used to be used as the measurement of land in olden days.

The kun-yomi 町 /machi’/ means “town” and is in 町中に出る (“to go into the town” /machinaka-ni-de’ru/), 町外れ (“outer edge of a town” /machiha’zure/) and 下町 (“downtown; shitamachi.” /shitamachi/). The word Shitamachi usually refers to the low area of Tokyo on the east of the Sumida River. In the Tokugawa era, large residences where samurai class people lived were on the west side of Edo Castle and commoners lived on the east side toward the waterfront. The on-yomi /cho’o/ is in 町内会 (“neighborhood association” /choona’ikai/), 町人 (“merchant” (in old class system, as contrasted to samurai); townspeople” /choonin/).

There are several more frequently used kanji that contain 田, so we will continue this topic in the next post. [July 4, 2015]