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 里野予理王玉畜蓄玄 – 田 (3)

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  1. The kanji 里 “village; one’s parents home”

History of Kanji 里For the kanji 里, the top of the bronze ware style writings, in green, was rice paddies which had neatly arranged grids. Under that the vertical line had a bulge which signified a ball of dirt on the ground (土.) Together they meant a land where people grew rice and produce. It meant a “village; one’s parents’  home.” In the two bronze ware style samples, the center line in the two elements “rice paddies” and “ground” was continuous, rather than two discrete images. In fact none of the eight bronze ware writing samples in Akai (2010) shows a separation between the two elements. We do not have oracle bone style writing. Ten style, in red, had lines that were even thickness.

The kun-yomi 里 /sato/ means “village,” and 里帰り /satogaeri/ means “return to parents home; homecoming.” /Sato/ also is used by a married woman talking about her parents home, in a more humble style than saying 実家 /jikka/. The expression 里心がつく /satogo’koro-ga tsu’ku/) means “to start feeling homesick.” The on-yomi /ri/ was a unit of distance measurement. In Japan one ri was about 4 km. The expression 千里の道も一歩から /se’nri-no-michi-mo ip’po-kara/ means “A long journey begins with the first step.”

  1. The kanji 野 “fields; outside”

History of Kanji 野For the kanji 野, the oracle bone style sample (a), in brown, and the bronze ware style sample (b) had two “tree” 木, signifying woods 林, and “soil; ground” 土. Together they signified “wooded land.” Another bronze ware style sample (c) had rice paddies and the origin of 予 “roomy; latitude” at the top, instead of a wooded land. The bottom was “soil.” Together a land that stretched like many rice paddies meant “fields.” While in (c), 田 and 土 were placed in two separate locations, in ten style (e) the two elements became one shape 里 “village.” The right side was 予 “roomy; latitude.”  Setsumon also gave the shape (d) as its old style, in gray. The shape (d) consisted of 林 “wooded area,” 予 “roominess” and 土 “soil.”

History of Kanji 予(frame)The Kanji 予; The origin of 予 was explained as a weaving shuttle with a thread attached at the bottom. A weaving shuffle pushed through the loom between the threads that were loosened a little. In order to get the shuttle to pass through, threads were pulled to make room. From “making room in advance of a shuttle’s passing” the kanji 予 meant “in advance; preliminary.” As a kanji, 予 only had the ten style sample, as shown on the right. But as a component of 野, we can see a couple earlier shapes in (c) and (d) in the history of the kanji 野 above.

So, the left side of the kanji 野 was 里 “village,” and the right side 予 was “roominess.” Together a spacious piece of land in the field meant “field.” A field was outside of a town where important business was conducted. From that it meant “outside the power; outsider; opposition.”

The kun-yomi /no/ is in 野原 (”a green field” /no’hana/). The on-yomi /ya/ is in 野球 (“baseball” /yakyuu/), 野党 (“opposition party” /ya’too/), 在野 (“outside government; outside power” /zaiya/), 野蛮な (“barbaric” /yaban-na/).

  1. The kanji 理 “logic; rational”

History of Kanji 理For the kanji 理, the left side of the ten style writing 王 was jewels strung together. Splitting a gem neatly along the natural cleavage signified the rational way to do something. The right side 里 was used phonetically for /ri/, and also contained 田 “rice paddies.” Rice paddies had levees that went through. Both components had the meaning of something going straight through. From that the kanji 理 meant “logic; rational.”

There is no kun-yomi in the Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /ri/ is in 理解する (“to understand” /ri’kai-suru/), 理由 (“reason” /riyuu/), 無理な (“unreasonable” /mu’ri-na/) and 論理 (“logic” /ro’nri/).

王の鉞イラスト

King’s axe

The kanji 玉 and : The kanji 王 means “king; crown” and the kanji 玉 means “jewel; ball.” Jewels could also signify the crown jewels of a king. In a traditional kanji dictionary, 王 and 玉 are treated as one bushu. However the two shapes have totally different lines of history.

The kanji 王 came from a large ornamental axe of a ruler that signified power, such as the drawing on the right. History of Kanji 王(frame)In the history of the kanji 王 on the right, in oracle bone style it was an outline of an axe that was placed with the blade side down. In bronze ware style the first example showed a thick blade. The bronze ware style and ten style samples showed the middle horizontal line closer to the top line to emphasize the importance of the bottom, the blade. In kanji the three horizontal lines were distributed evenly.

History of Kanji 玉(frame)The kanji 玉 came from a string of jewels. The oracle style sample had three jewels with a string going through with a knot at the top. In bronze ware style and ten style, the three horizontal lines were evenly placed, unlike the kanji 王. In kanji a dot was added to differentiate it from 王.

Among the Joyo kanji the component 玉 is used in just a few kanji, such as the kanji 玉, 宝 and 璧. Most kanji use the component 王 even when it originated in, and/or still means, “jewel,” including the kanji 現珍班球環 and 珠.

  1. The kanji 裏 “back; inside; wrong side”

History of Kanji 裏For the kanji 裏, in bronze ware style, the left sample (a) was the same as that of the kanji 里. In (b), 里 was placed inside a collar and was used phonetically for /ri/. Together something inside the collar meant the wrong side of clothes (a collar). The kanji 裏 meant “the back; inside: the wrong side.”

The kun-yomi 裏 /ura’/ or 裏側 /uragawa/ means “the back; inside; the wrong side,” and is in 裏工作 (“behind-the-scene maneuvering” /urako’osaku/) and 裏話 (“story behind; inside story” /uraba’nashi/). The on-yomi /ri/ is in 裏面 (“back side” /ri’men/).

In this last post on kanji that came from 田 “rice paddies,” let us look at two more that may have a different origin here — 畜蓄.

  1. The kanji 畜 “livestock”

History of Kanji 畜The top of the kanji 畜 was 玄. The history of 玄 is shown on the right.

History of Kanji 玄(frame)The kanji 玄: The bronze ware style of 玄 was a skein of threads. (The one in gray is the old style before ten style given in Setsumon.) In ten style the top was added to signify the tied knot for dyeing. From dyeing threads dark, it meant “black” and “mysterious.”

For the kanji 畜, there are different views on what was under 玄 “skein of threads.” Shirakawa treated it as a pot to dye threads. From soaking the skein of threads for a duration of time to pick up pigments better, it meant “to accumulate.” The Kadokawa dictionary treated the top not as the skein of threads but as an abbreviated shape of the kanji that meant “to nurture (the right side of the kanji 滋),” and the bottom as rice paddies. Together from leaving rice field uncultivated to regain the nutrients in the soil, it meant “to accumulate; store.” Later on the kanji 畜 came to be used to mean “livestock.” For the original meaning “to accumulate; store” a bushu kusakanmuri was added 蓄.

There is no kun-yomi in the Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /chi’ku/ is in 家畜 “livestock.” The word 畜生 originally meant “animals” (in the sense of below humans) and is used as a strong cursing word “You brute!” by an angry male speaker with a variation of こん畜生 /konchikisho’o; konchikisho’o/.

  1. The kanji 蓄 “to accumulate; store”

History of Kanji 蓄We have already touched above on how the kanji 蓄 came about. With the bush kusakanmuri “plants” added, it bears the original meaning of the bottom “to accumulate; store.”

The kun-yomi 蓄える /takuwae’ru/ means “to stash away; store.” The on-yomi /chi’ku/ is in 貯蓄 (”saving” /chochiku/), 蓄積する (”to accumulated; heap up” /chikuseki-suru/), 蓄電 (“to charge electricity” /chikuden/).

There are other kanji among the Joyo kanji that contain 田 that originated from the rice paddies. The presence of the meaning from “rice paddies in the kanji 畔 (“levee; ridge” /u’ne/ in kun-yomil /ha’n/ in on-yomi), and 苗 (“nursery plant; seedling” /na’e/ in kun-yomi, /byo’o/ in on-yomi) are self-evident. The kanji 描 (“to describe; depict” /ega’ku/ in kun-yomi and /byo’o/ in on-yomi) and 猫 (“cat” /ne’ko/ in kun-yomi and /byo’o/ in on-yomi) are phonetically related to 苗 /byo’o/.  Another kanji 奮 (“to muster one’s courage/strength” /huruu/ in kun-yomi and /hu’n/ in on-yomi came from the rice paddies.)

We have had three postings on kanji that contain 田 “rice paddies.” There are kanji that contain the shape 田 but do not mean “rice paddies.” I will try to put some of them together in the next post.  [July 18, 2015]