The Kanji 牛物利件牧牲半判伴畔   


I have written last week that I was going to take a break from writing for a while. I am posting a new one so soon. This post was prompted by a comment from a reader last week about the origin of the kanji 物, which involves the discussion of the bushu ushihen “ox; cow.”  First we look at kanji with a bushu ushihen– 牛物件牧牲 with revisiting 利. Then we look at the kanji with 半-半判伴畔.

  1. The kanji  牛 “bull; ox”

For the kanji 牛 in oracle bone style, in brown, bronze ware style, in green, and seal style, in red, the top was an ox head with its two horns growing upwards, and the bottom was its body. It meant “an ox; a cow.” In kanji a short-slanted stroke was added on the top left for an emphasis on the horns. The kanji 牛 means “cow; ox; cow.” [Composition of the kanji 牛: a short ノ, 二 and丨]

The kun-yomi 牛 /ushi/ means “cow; bull; ox; cattle.” The on-yomi /gyuu/ is in 乳牛 “dairy cow; dairy cattle” /nyuugyuu/, 牛乳 “milk” /gyuunyuu/, 牛肉 “beef” /gyuuniku/, 牛車 “ox-drawn carriage used by nobility in the Heian period” /gi’ssha/ and 水牛 “buffalo” /suigyuu/.

  1. The kanji 物 “stuff; thing; various; to select”

For the kanji 物 there was an old view that the right side was streamers of different colors. Oxen had different coloration and signified “various or assorted.” From various things it meant “thing; stuff.” Another view (seen in Shirakawa) seems to explain the ancient writings here better. (a) was “a plough or hoe spattering the soil,” which was phonetically /butsu/. This eventually became the shape 勿 in kanji. In (b) and (c) “an ox,” a large animal, signifying all animals, was added. (d) had “a plough with spattering soil” only. (e) comprised “an ox” and “a plough.” Cows or oxen that pulled a plough for tilling the fields had different coloration, thus it meant “various or assorted.” Choosing from various things also signified “to select; make one’s choice.” The kanji 物 means “stuff; thing; various; to select.” [Composition of the kanji 物: 牛 and 勿]

The kun-yomi 物 /mono’/ means “thing; matter; article; goods,” and is in 安物 “cheap article; inferior article” /yasumono/, 買い物 “shopping” /kaimono/, 生き物 “living creature” /iki’mono/ and 物々しい “showy; stately” /monomonoshi’i/. The on-yomi /butsu/ is in 物品 “goods; an article” /buppin/, 物理学 “physical science” /butsuri’gaku/, 物色する “look for; select” /busshoku-suru/ and 見物する “to go sight-seeing” /kenbutsu-suru/. Another on-yomi /motsu/ is in 禁物 “tabooed thing; forbidden thing” /kinmotsu/.

[The interpretation of the shape in (a), (b) and (c) as “a plough or hoe spattering the soil” is also relevant to the kanji 利. So, let us look at the kanji 利 here. It is a revision of my earlier writing a year ago.]

The kanji 利 “sharp;  useful; advantageous”

For the kanji 利 (a) comprised “a knife” or “a plough or hoe” and “a rice plant with crop.” (b), (c) and (d) comprised of “a rice plant” and “a plough or hoe spattering the soil.” A sharp pointed plough or hoe could dig up the soil effectively and be useful. It meant “useful; advantageous; sharp.” In (e) the plough or hoe became replaced by “a knife,” preserving the sense of a tool that was sharp. (On the other hand in 物 it became 勿.) In kanji it was replaced by 刂 a bushu rittoo “knife.” The kanji comprises 禾, a bushu nogihen, and刂 a bushu rittoo “knife.” The kanji 利 means “sharp;  useful; advantageous.”

  1. The kanji 件 “case; matter”

The seal style writing of the kanji 件 had イ “an act that a person does” and 牛 “an ox.” Together they signified “a person counting oxen in a herd” or “counting cases.” The kanji 件 means “case; matter.” [Composition of the kanji 件: イ  and 牛]

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /ken/ is in 事件 “incidence; case” /ji’ken/, 条件付き “conditional” /jookentsuki/, 件名 “case name” /kenmee/, 別件 “separate charge; different case” /bekken/, 用件 “business; things to be done” /yooke’n/ and 人件費 “personnel expenses” /jinke’nhi/.

  1. The kanji 牧 “to herd cattle; a place where cattle graze; pasture”

For the kanji 牧 at the top left (a) had “sheep” while (b), (c), (d) and (e) all had “ox.” (The direction of the horns differentiated the two animals.) The bottom in all was “a hand holding a stick to herd sheep or oxen” (攴攵, a bushu bokunyuu “to cause.”) Where animals grazed was “pasture.” The kanji 牧 means “to herd cattle; a place where cattle graze; pasture.” [Composition of the kanji 牧: 牛 and 攵]

The kun-yomi /maki/ is in 牧場 “pasture; meadow” /makiba’/. The on-yomi /boku/ is in 放牧 “pasturage; grazing” /hooboku/, 牧師 “pastor; minister; cleric” /bo’kushi/, 遊牧 “nomadism” /yuuboku/, 牧場 “stock farm; ranch” /bokujoo/ and 牧歌的な “pastoral; idyllic” /bokkateki-na/.

  1. The kanji 牲 “sacrifice; sacrificial animal”

For the kanji 牲 the oracle bone style writing comprised “a sheep” and “a new emerging plant” used phonetically for /see/ to mean “life.” Together they signified “live sheep that was offered to a god as a sacrificial animal.” From bronze ware style on, however “an ox” was used. An ox is a big animal, and a sacrificial ox was more valuable than a smaller animal. The kanji 牲 means “sacrifice; sacrificial animal.” [Composition of the kanji 牲: 牛 and 生]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /see/ is in 犠牲になる“to sacrifice oneself” /gisee-ni na’ru/ and 犠牲者 “victim; prey” /gise’esha/.

The next four kanji 半判伴畔 contain 半, which came from a half of an axe.

6. The kanji 半 “a half”

For the kanj 半 the top of bronze ware style and seal style writings was ハ “to divide something in half” used phonetically for /han/. The bottom was “an ox.” Together they signified an ox that was cut in half.  In kanji ハ flipped upside down forming a sort of a truncated katakana ソ. The kanji 半 means “a half.”  [Composition of the kanji 半: a truncated ソ,二 and丨]

The kun-yomi 半ば /nakaba’/ means “the middle,” and is in 月半ば “middle of the month” /tsuki nakaba’/. The on-yomi /han/ is in 過半数 “majority; more than half” /kaha’nsuu/, 上半身 “the upper body” /jooha’nshin/, 生半可な “shallow; superficial” /namahanka-na/, 半可通 “superficial knowledge; smatterer” /hanka’tsuu/, 折半する “to cut into halves; split in half” /se’ppan-suru/ and 半べそをかく “be on the verge of crying” /hanbeso-o ka’ku/.

  1. The kanji 判 “a seal; to judge; discern”

For the kanji 判 the seal style writing comprised 半 “half” used phonetically for /han/ and “a knife” adding the meaning dividing something in half. After signing a contract both parties took one half of the contract as proof. In a dispute of a contract, a judge decided which party was right. In kanji the knife became 刂, a bushu rittoo. The kanji 判means “a seal; to judge; discern.” [Composition of the kanji 判: 半 and 刂]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /han/ is in 判子 “hanko seal” /hanko/, 判決 “judicial decision; ruling” /hanketsu/, 公判 “public trial” /koohan/, 小判 “koban; Japanese gold coin of the Edo period” /ko’ban/, 判定勝ち “winning on point” /hanteegachi/, 判読する “to decipher; make out” /handoku-suru/, 談判 “negotiation; bargaining” /da’npan/ and 判事 “judge” /ha’nji/.

  1. The kanji 伴 “to accompany someone; companion”

The seal style writing of the kanji 伴 comprised “an act that a person does,” which became イ, a bushu ninben in kanji, and 半 “half” used phonetically for /han/. They signified two people, each being a half of each other’s accompaniment. The kanji 伴 means “to accompany someone; companion.” [Composition of the kanji 伴: イ and 半]

The kun-yomi 伴う /tomona’u/ means “to accompany; bring in its train.” The on-yomi /han/ is in 同伴者 “one’s companion” /dooha’nsha/, お相伴する “to join for a meal” /oshooban-suru/, 伴走する “to pace set; run alongside” /bansoo-suru/ and 伴奏 “accompaniment in music” /bansoo/.

  1. The kanji 畔 “a side; a ridge”

For the kanji 畔 the seal style writing comprised 田 “rice paddies” and 半 used phonetically for /han/ tomean “the side.” They meant the side or ridge of rice paddies, which was used for a walk path. It also meant “side.” The kanji 畔 means “a side; a ridge.” [Composition of the kanji 畔: 田 and 半]

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /han/ is in 湖畔”lakeside” /kohan/ and 河畔”riverside” /kahan/.

Now I return to my break. Thank you very much for your reading. –Noriko [June 24, 2018]

The Kanji 利別例創前愉癒輸諭喩 -りっとう “sword; knife”


In the last post we looked at kanji that contain 刀 “sword; knife; to cut.” In this post, we are going to look at its variations, a bushu rittoo (刂). The name rittoo comes from 立 “standing” and 刀.

history-of-kanji-%e5%88%b6frameThe two shapes 刀 and刂 in kanji had the same shape in ancient writing, and when the last ancient style writing became kanji that 刂 was used. Just a few months ago we had a chance to look at this change in the kanji 制 and 製 in connection with a bushu kihen. [The Kanji 未妹味昧制製果課裸菓–“tree” (2) on July 19, 2016] In the kanji 制, shown on the right, the left side was a vigorously growing tree with the top thrusting upward, and the left side was a knife. Trimming tree limbs back with a knife or shears means “to regulate.” Now we look at other kanji that have a bushu rittoo.

  1. The kanji 利 “sharp; advantageous”

history-of-kanji-%e5%88%a9For the kanji 利, in oracle bone style, in brown, the left side was a knife and the right side was a rice plant with crops. The two dots were probably grains of rice. In bronze ware style, in green, the positions of the knife and the rice plant were switched and the grains are still present. A sharp cutting tool was advantageous in harvesting rice or other crops. In kanji the knife on the right became two vertical lines and formed a bushu rittoo. The kanji 利meant “sharp” and “useful; advantageous.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ri/ is in 鋭利な (“sharp; sharp-edged” /e’eri-na/), 利口な (“clever; bright; shrewd” /rikoo-na/), 便利な (“convenient; useful” /be’nri-na/) and 利用する (“to make good use of” /riyoo-suru/).

  1. The kanji 別 “to separate”

history-of-kanji-%e5%88%a5For the kanji 別, in oracle bone style the right side signified separated bones. Together with a knife on the left, they meant “to separate bones at the joint using a knife.” In ten style, in red, the positions of the two elements got switched. The kanji 別 meant “to separate; another.”

The kun-yomi 別れる (“to become separated” /wakare’ru/) and 別れ際 (“on parting” /wakaregiwa/). The on-yomi /betsu/ is in 別々に (“separately” /betsubetsu-ni/), 別居する (“to live separately; live apart” /bekkyo-suru/), 差別 (“discrimination” /sa’betsu/) and 特別に (“particularly; specially” /tokubetsu-ni/).

The next kanji 例 contain 列. The kanji 列 and 烈 have also been discussed previously in connection with fire. [The Kanji 焦煎烈煮庶遮蒸然燃 –“fire” (2) れっか May 28, 2016]

  1. The kanji 例 “example; custom; that

history-of-kanji-%e4%be%8bFor the kanji 例 In ten style the left side was a “person.” The middle and the right side had a beheaded head with the hair still attached and a sword, which signified “to display an enemy’s beheaded heads in a row as a show of victory after a battle,” as previously discussed. For 例, with “person” (イ) added, it signified “people neatly in line.” From that 例 meant “things in display as a model.” 例 is also used to refer to something previously known to both a speaker and a hearer, “that; usual.”

The kun-yomi 例えば /tatoeba/ means “for example.” The on-yomi /re’e/ is in 例 (“example; customes” /re’e/), 例の (“the usual; that one” /re’e-no/, as in 例の話 (“the story that was previously discussed” /re’e-no-hanashi/), and 実例 (“actual example” /jitsuree/), 恒例の行事 (“customary event” /kooree-no gyooji/).

  1. The kanji 創 “cut; to create”

history-of-kanji-%e5%89%b5For the kanji 創, the bronze ware style writing had a standing person on the left and a knife on the right. Together they meant “to be wounded; cut.” In ten style the left side was replaced by a different writing 倉 that had the same sound /so’o/. A knife was used to create something new. So, it also meant “to create.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /so’o/ is in 創造する (“to create” /soozoo-suru/). The original meaning “wound” remains in words such as 絆創膏 (“adhesive bandage” /bansookoo/).

  1. The kanji 刺 “to sting; pierce; stab”

history-of-kanji-%e5%88%baFor the kanji 刺, the left side 朿 was “thorny twigs.” With a “knife” on the right side together, they meant “to sting; pierce; stab.”

The kun-yomi 刺す /sa’su/ means “to stab; sting,” and is in 虫刺され (“bug bite” /mushisasare/) and 刺身 (“sashimi; slices of raw fish.” The on-yomi /shi/ is in 刺激 (“stimulus; impetus” /shigeki/), 刺繍 (“embroidery” /shishuu/) and 名刺 (“name card” /meeshi/).

  1. The kanji 前 “front; before”

history-of-kanji-%e5%89%8dFor the kanji 前, In bronze ware style, the top was “a footprint,” and the bottom was a boat. It meant “to move forward.” In the three ten style writings (b) (c) and (d), the footprint looked more like the kanji 止. (d) had a knife on the bottom right that added the meaning “to cut and even up,” possibly toenails — toenails are in front of your body. The kanji 前means “front; before.” It is also used to mean “portion.” In kanji the footprint (止) was simplified to a three stroke shape.

The kun-yomi 前 /ma’e/ means “front; before,” and is in 建前 (“façade; the theory” /tatemae/) and 後ろ前 (“(to wear clothes) backwards” /ushiro’mae/), 自前 (“one’s own expense” /jimae/) and 持ち前 (“one’s nature; peculiar” /mochimae-no/. The on-yomi /ze’n/ is in 戦前 (“before war”/senzen/) and 前衛 (“avant-garde” /zen-ee/).

history-of-kanji-%e5%85%aaThe next five kanji 愉癒輸諭喩 share the same component 兪. 兪 is not a Joyo kanji but we have its ancient style writings shown on the left. Both bronze ware style writings had a boat, or a tray that was placed vertically. A boat and a tray signified “to transport” something to another place. The right side was a surgical needle with a big handle at the top and a knife. In ten style the handle became the top. Together they originally meant “to take a lesion out with a knife; heal.”

  1. The kanji 愉 “pleasure”

history-of-kanji-%e6%84%89For the kanji 愉, the bronze ware style writing was the same as that of 兪 “to take a lesion out with a knife; recover.” In ten style a heart (忄) was added on the left. Removing the source of concern from the heart meant “pleasure; joy.” In kanji the knife became a bushu rittoo shape.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /yu/ is in 愉快 (“pleasant; delightful; cheerful” /yu’kai/).

  1. The kanji 癒 “healing; cure”

history-of-kanji-%e7%99%92The ten style writing of the kanji 癒 had a bed (爿), vertically placed for space, on the left and a horizontal line at the top of 兪, which signified a sick person. Together they mean a sick person getting healed from an illness by having lesion removed with a surgical knife. In kanji the bed and the sick person became a bushu yamaidare (疒) “sick; illness,” and a “heart” (心) was added to indicate “feeling better; healing from an illness.” The kanji 癒 meant “cure: heal.”

The kun-yomi 癒す /iya’su/ means “to cure; heal,” and its passive form 癒される /iyasare’ru/ means “therapeutic; healing.” The on-yomi /yu/ is in 治癒 (“healing; recovery” /chi’yu/).

  1. The kanji 輸 “to transport”

history-of-kanji-%e8%bc%b8For the kanji 輸, in ten style the left side was a “vehicle” (車). The right side “taking out a lesion” gave the meaning “to take something out to another place.” Together they meant “to move something; transport.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /yu/ is in 輸出 (“export” /yushutsu), 輸入 (“import” /yunyuu/), 輸送 (“transportation; carriage” /yusoo/) and 運輸 (“transportation; conveyance” /u’n-yu/.)

  1.  The kanji 諭 “to admonish for an error; discourage”

history-of-kanji-%e8%ab%adThe ten style writing of the kanji 諭 had a bushu gonben “word; to say.” Together with 兪, they meant “to admonish someone for an error; advise,” as if one took the lesion out. The kanji 諭 means “to admonish someone for an error; counsel; discourage.”

The kun-yomi /sato’su/ means “to admonish someone for an error; advise.” The on-yomi /yu/ is in 教諭 (“teacher at elementary and high schools” /kyooyu/).

  1. The kanji 喩 “example; metaphor”

There is no ancient writing available for 喩. The left side 口 “to speak” and the right side 兪together meant “to teach something with a metaphor.”

The kun-yomi 喩え /tato’e; tato’i/ is not a Joyo kanji reading but means “example; metaphor.” The on-yomi /yu/ is in 比喩 (“metaphor” /hi’yu/).

In the next post we will look at a few more kanji 刃忍認 that are related to a knife, and then start a topic on other sharp-edged objects. [November 6, 2016]  -Noriko