The Kanji 合拾答塔搭今陰含吟貪念捻倉 Container (1)


We are going to look at kanji that originated from a lid over a container. In this post the kanji we are going to look at are: 合拾答塔搭 (containing  合) and 今陰含吟貪念捻 (containing 今) and 倉.

  1. The kanji 合 “to meet; put together; fit; mix”

History of Kanji 合In all three types of ancient writing (oracle bone style in brown, bronze ware style in green and seal style in red) for the kanji 合 it had a container with a lid on top. From the meaning of “a lid and the container fitting well,” it meant “to meet; fit.” The kanji 合 means “to meet; put together; fit; mix.” Of the two kanji that is pronounced as /au/ to mean “to meet,” the kanji 合 is used for things whereas the kanji 会 is for people.  <Composition of the kanji 合: and 𠆢 , 一 and 口>

The kun-yomi 合う /a’u/ means “to fit; meet” and is in  打ち合わせ (“staff meeting” /uchiawase/), 詰め合わせ (“assortment” /tsumeawase/), 言い合い (“argue; verbal fight” /iiai/), 間に合う (“be in time; to manage” /mania‘u/) and 歩合 (“percentage” /buai/). The on-yomi /goo/ is in 合計 (“total sum” /gookee/), 合意する (“to agree upon” /gooi-suru/) and 結合 (“bind; union” /ketsugoo/). Another on-yomi /gatsu/ is in 合作 (“joint work” /gassaku/) and 合唱 (“chorus” /gasshoo/).

  1. The kanji  拾 “to pick up; gather”

History of Kanji 拾The seal style writing of the kanji 拾 comprised “a hand” and 合 used phonetically for /shuu/ to mean “to pick up,” together signifying “a hand picking up a thing.” In kanji the left side became 扌, a bushu tehen “an act that one does using a hand.”  The kanji 拾 means “to pick up; gather.”  <Composition of the kanji 拾: 扌 and 合>

The kun-yomi 拾 /hirou/ means “to pick up” and is in 拾い物 (“find; windfall” /hiroimono/).  /-Biro/ is in 命拾い (“a narrow escape” /inochibi’roi/). The on-yomi /shuu/ is in 拾得物 (“lost-and-found item” /shuutoku’butsu/) and 事態を収拾する (“to get the situation under control” /ji’tai-o shuushuu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 答 “answer”

History of Kanji 答There is no ancient writing for the kanji 答. The writing on the left side is a brush writing from a later time and comprised 艸 “plants; grass” and 合 “to meet” used phonetically for /too/, together forming 荅 “answer.” One view explains 荅 to be two sides of a pea pod, fitting very well. Later the top was replaced by 竹, a bushu takekanmuri “bamboo.” A bushu takekanmuri often pertained to writing because bamboo writing tablets and writing brush had a bamboo handle. It may be the case that the takekanmuri replaced “plants” because writing an answer using a bamboo brush fit better to its meaning. The kanji 答 means “answer.”  <Composition of the kanji 答: 竹 and 合>

The kun-yomi /kota’e/ means “answer.” The on-yomi /too/ is in 答案用紙 (“answer sheet” /tooan-yo’oshi/), 回答 (“answer; response to a question” /kaitoo/) and 解答 (“work out; answer” /kaitoo/).

  1. The kanji 塔 “tower; monument”

History of Kanji 塔The seal style writing for the kanji 塔 comprised 土 “dirt; soil” and 荅 used phonetically for /too/. The writing 塔 was phonetic rendition of 卒塔婆 /sotoba/ from the Sanskrit “stupa,” which was a dome-like monument erected as a Buddha shrine. The kanji 塔 means “tower; monument.”  <Composition of the kanji 塔: 土 and 荅>

There is no on-yomi. The on-yomi /too/ means “tower; monument,” and is in 管制塔 (“control tower” /kanseetoo), 金字塔 (“monumental achievement” /kinjitoo/) and 象牙の塔 (“ivory tower” /zooge-no-too/).

  1. The kanji 搭 “to load; board”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 搭. The kanji 搭 comprises 扌, a bushu tehen, “an act one does using a hand,” and 荅 used phonetically for /too/ to mean “an action.” The kanji 搭 is now used to mean “to load; board.”  <Composition of the kanji 搭: 扌 and 荅>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /too/ is in 搭乗券 (“boarding pass” /toojo’oken/) and 搭載する (“to load; be equipped with” /toosai-suru/).

  1. The kanji 今 “now; present time”

History of Kanji 今For the kanji 今 in all three ancient style it comprised “a cover with a stopper for a container or rice wine cask.” (The shape appeared in the top of the anceint writing of the kanji 飲 which we looked at in earlier post.) It was borrowed to mean “present moment; now.” Another explanation is that “the top was capturing the present moment.” The kanji 今 means “now; present time.” <Composition of the kanji 今: 𠆢  and ラ>

The kun-yomi 今 /i’ma/ means “now; present time,” and is in 只今 (“promptly” /tada’ima/) in a humble way. The expression one says when he comes home is pronounced as /tadaima/, an unaccented word.  The on-yomi /kon/ is in 今月 (“this month” /kongetsu/), 今週 (“this week” /konshuu), 今後 (“from now” /kongo/) and 昨今 (“up-date; these days” /sak’kon/). 今年 /kotoshi/ is also a customary reading. Another on-yomi /kin/ is in 今上天皇 (”the reigning emperor; His majesty” /kinjootenno’o/).

  1. The kanji 陰 “shadow; negative”

History of Kanji 陰For the kanji 陰 in the two bronze ware style writings the left comprised “mountains” (vertically placed), “something to cover” and “a cloud rising” underneath, together a mountain blocking the sun and a could under a cover signified “a dark area” or “a shadow.” The contrast between a sunny area and a shadowy area also is used for the contrast between “positive (陽) and negative (陰).” The seal style writing comprised the same components in more stylized shape. The kanji 陰 means “shadow; negative.” <Composition of the kanji 陰: 阝, 今 and 云>

The kun-yomi /ka’ge/ means “shade; dark area.” The on-yomi /in/ is in 陰影 (“shading; nuance” /in-ee-no-a’ru/) and 山陰地方 (“San’in region,” the northern side of the Chugoku region”  /san-in-chi’hoo/) and 陰性 (“negative” /insee/).

  1. The kanji 含 “to contain; include”

History of Kanji 含The seal style writing of the kanji 含 comprised “a cover with a stopper” (今) and “a mouth; box” (口) together signifying “putting something inside a mouth or container.” The kanji 含 means “to contain; include.” <Composition of the kanji 含: 今 and 口>

The kun-yomi 含む /huku’mu/ means “to include; contain.” The on-yomi /gan/ is in 含有量 (“content” /ganyu’uryoo/) and 含蓄のある (“signifying; suble; pregnant with meaning” /ganchiku-no-a’ru/).

  1. The kanji 吟 “to groan; chant”

History of Kanji 吟For the kanji 吟 in seal style the left one comprised 口 “mouth” and 今 “a cover with a stopper” used phonetically for /kin; gin/ to mean “muffling sound in a mouth.” The second one had 音 “sound” instead of 口. The kanji 吟 reflected the left one. From “a muffled voice in a closed mouth” the kanji 吟 means “to groan; chant.” <Composition of the kanji 吟: 口 and 今>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /gin/ is in 吟味する (“to examine closely” /gi’nmi-suru/) and 詩吟 (“shigin; recitation of Chinese poem” /shigin/).

  1. The kanji 貪 “to covet; be greedy; devour”

History of Kanji 貪The seal style writing of the kanji 貪 comprised “a lid with a stopper” (今) and “a bronze ware vessel” (貝) to store valuables. Together they signified “stashing away greedily with a stopper.” The kanji 貪 means “to covet; be greedy; devour.”  <Composition of the kanji 貪: 今 and 貝>

The kun-yomi 貪る /musaboru/ means “to covet; crave.” The on-yomi /don/ is in 貪欲な (“greedy” /don-yoku-na/).

  1. The kanji 念 “thought; pray; wish; ponder”

History of Kanji 念For the kanji 念 the bronze ware style writing and the seal style writing comprised 今 “a lid to keep something in” and 心 “heart.” Together they meant “a thought that one kept inside his heart for a long time.” The kanji 念 means “thought; pray; wish; ponder.”  <Composition of the kanji 念: 今 and心>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /nen/ is in 念じる “to pray; wish; hope” /nenjiru/), 失念する “to forget” /shitsunen-suru/), 念願の (“long-cherished” /nengan-no), 雑念 (“idle thoughts; distraction” /zatsunen/) and 念仏 (“to invoke Buddha; pray to Amida Buddha” /nenbutsu-o tonae’ru/).

  1. The kanji 捻 “to twist; bend”

History of Kanji 捻The seal style writing of the 捻 comprised “a hand” and 念 used phoneticallly for /nen/ to mean “twist.” Together they signified “to twist something with fingers.” The kanji 捻 means “to twist; bend.”  <Composition of the kanji 捻: 扌, 今 and 心>

The kun-yomi 捻る /hine’ru/ means “to twist.” The on-yomi /nen/ is in 捻出する (“to squeeze money; manage to come up with money” /nenshutsu-suru/) and 捻挫 (“sprain; ligament rupture” /nenza/).

  1. The kanji 倉 “storage; warehouse; vault”

History of Kanji 倉For the kanji 倉 in oracle bone style and bronze ware style it was  “a grainer,” with “a cover to protect the grain from rain” at the top and “an opening to get the grain out” at the bottom, together signifying “storage of grain.” In seal style the top became a bushu hitoyane. The kanji 倉 means “storage; warehouse; vault.”  <Composition of the kanji 倉: 𠆢 , 戸 with another stroke and 口>

The kun-yomi 倉 /kura’/ means “storage; vault,” and /-gura/ is in 米倉 (“rice storage” /komegura/). The on-yomi /soo/ is in 倉庫 (“warehouse” /so’oko/), 穀倉地帯 (“farm belt” /kokusoochi’tai/).

There are a few more shapes that belong to the group of containers.  We shall continue with them in the next post.  Thank you very much for your reading. – Noriko  [January 13, 2018]

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]