The Kanji 鬼畏異細思脳悩胃-田 (4) “not rice paddies”


In this post, we are going to look at kanji in which the component 田 did not come from “rice paddies.” Three origins are discussed here — [A] The shape 田 from “head of the spirit of the dead” in the kanji 鬼畏異; [B] The shape 田 “brain” from “baby’s skull viewed from above” in the kanji 細思脳悩; and [C] The shape 田 from “stomach” in the kanji 胃.

[A] The shape 田 from “head of the spirit of the dead”– 鬼畏 and 異

The kanji 畏 has the 田 shape at the top, but in order to discuss that it may be useful to look at a closely related kanji 鬼 first.

  1. The kanji 鬼 “devil; deceased”

History of Kanji 鬼In the history of the kanji 鬼 shown on the left, in oracle bone style, in brown, it was a figure with a square head with a crisscross inside kneeling down. The crisscross inside the square shape signified a fierce expression of a deceased person. It meant the spirit of a deceased person. In bronze ware style, in green, the head became a pointed shape. In the old style that predated ten style given in Setsumon, in gray, the left side had an altar table, and a small shape that signified a dark spirit was added next to the figure. In ten style, in red, an altar table was not present. The kanji reflected ten style writing, including the top short stroke above the head as a short slanted stroke. From the spirit of the dead in its origin, 鬼 was used to signify mysterious ability or supernatural power.

The kun-yomi /oni’/ means “ogre; devil,” and is in 鬼退治 “slaying the ogre” in folktale, 鬼ごっこ (“a game of tag” /onigo’kko/) in children’s play, and 仕事の鬼 (“demon for work” /shigoto-no-oni’/). The on-yomi /ki/ is in 鬼才 (“genius; a person of extraordinary talent” /kisai/) and 鬼門 (“weak point; area to be avoided” /kimon/). The expression 鬼籍に入る (“to join the necrology; to die” /ki’seki-ni hai’ru/) takes the original meaning of the spirit of a deceased person. Other kanji that contain 鬼 among the Joyo kanji all reflect “spirit” in its origin. They are 魂 (“soul; spirit” /ta’mashii/ in kun-yomi, /ko’n/ in on-yomi), 魅 (“charm” /mi/ in on-yomi) and 醜 (“ugly” /miniku’i/ in kun-yomi, /shu’u/ in on-yomi).

  1. The kanji 畏 “to revere; obey respectfully”

History of Kanji 畏In the oracle bone style sample of the kanji 畏 (a), we recognize a shape similar to the kanji 鬼 on the left, with a couple of differences — the figure in 畏 was standing whereas the figure in 鬼 was kneeling; and 畏 had a stick. A figure of the spirit of the dead carrying a stick signified something to be feared. The bronze ware style samples (b) and (c) had the position switched. In the third bronze ware style sample (d) another set of elements was added on the right side — a stick and a hand. As we have discussed before, “a stick” and “a hand” made up the meaning “to cause an action to happen,” which became a  bushu bokuzukuri 攴, or 攵 in a newer kanji [the postings on October 18 and 24, 2014]. So the right side reinforced the meaning “making someone revere or obey respectfully.” In ten style, (f), just as we saw in 鬼, the pointed head changed to a short line sticking out above the head. The bottom shape is difficult to make out (and its older style given in Setsumon (e) is not helpful to me either.) The best I can do is to suggest that the stick on the left, the body in the center and a hand contributed to this shape. The kanji 畏 means “to be fearful of; awe.”

The kun-yomi 畏れる /osore’ru/ means “to revere; awe,” and another kun-yomi 畏まる /kashikoma’ru/ (this sound not on the Joyo kanji list) means “to obey respectfully; humble oneself.” The polite expression かしこまりました (“Certainly; I understand.” /kashikomarima’shita/) comes from this verb. The on-yomi /i/ is in 畏敬の念 (“reverence; awe” /ikee-no-ne’n/) and 畏怖の念 (“fearful; with awe” /ihu-no-ne’n/).

History of Kanji 異(frame)The kanji : Another kanji that had the shape 田 related to a fierce facial expression or a spirit is the kanji 異. [Two post on May 31, 2014 and September 26, 2014]. In 異, rather than a face bearing fierce expression, it was a mask worn in a votive play. In oracle bone style and bronze ware style on the right we see two hands holding a mask of a fearsome face. The ten style sample had a stage for the votive play added. Putting on a mask of an extraordinary face changes the wearer into another person. It meant “different.”

There is another difference in ten style. In the ten style of 鬼 and 畏 from “face/head,” there was a short line sticking out at the top whereas 異 from “mask” did not. Then, if we look at the ten style samples of the kanji 細思脳悩, which originated from a baby’s skull as we are about to see,we notice that they all have a short line at the top. So, it appears that this short line at the top in ten style did carry the meaning of a head as a part of the body. In the case of 鬼, it retained as the short slanted stroke in kanji.

[B] The shape田 “brain” from baby’s skull

The next four kanji shared the same shape in ten style — a rounded square with a diagonal crisscross and a short line on top. That shape became 田 in the kanji 細 and 思, but not in the kanji 脳 or 悩.

  1. The kanji 細 “small; thin”

History of Kanji 細The left side of the ten style of the kanji 細 was a skein of threads, which signified “long and thin,” and it became the bushu itohen. History of Kanji Component %22Brain%22On the right side was a rounded square shape with a diagonal crisscross inside and a short line at the top. This shape came from an infant small head with a fontanel that was viewed from the top. A fontanel is a soft spot between the bones of the skull and it is  called ひよめき /hiyomeki/ or 泉門 /senmon/ in Japanese. The gap is so small that it signified “smallness.” Together they meant something “long and thin; very small.” In an earlier kanji for 細, the right side had 囟 (if your browser comes as blank, it is (b) in the purple table on the right.) The diagonal crisscross was similar to a katakana メ.

History of Kanji 思(frame)The kanji : The kanji 思 shared the same origin as “brain” as 細. We have looked at the kanji 思 in connection with 心 “heart.”[February 7, 2015] In ten style the top was an infant head where the bones of the skull had not closed completely and it signified the brain. Together with an anatomical shape of a “heart” they meant “to think.” In kanji the top took the shape 田 and the bottom 心.

The kanji 脳 ”brain” and 悩 “torment; distress” The meaning of “brain” from a baby’s skull with a fontanel shape not only became the shape 田, but it also became an combination of a receptacle with a katakana /me/ inside, in kanji such as 脳 and 悩. We revisit those kanji that we looked at earlier [February 21, 2015] to focus on the role of “brain.”

History of Kanji 脳(frame)The kanji 脳: The left side of the ten style writing of the kanji 脳 (a) on the right was a person. On the right side in addition to an infant head viewed from above, it had three wavy lines. Those were fully grown hair. So, the right side was no longer that of an infant, but of a person. Together they meant “brain.” (b) and (c) were both older kanji, (b) with a person from ten style, and (c) with the body radical nikuzuki 月. Officially (c) was the kyujitai. In shinjitai (d) the right side had a simplified shape ツ and the bottom was replaced by a receptacle shape with メ inside.

History of Kanji 悩(frame)The kanji :  The left side of the ten style writing was a woman, whose role is not clear. It meant “to torment; distress.” In kyujitai 女 was replaced by the bushu risshinben “heart.” In shinjitai, the right side have gone through the same process as 脳.

In [B] we have looked at four kanji 細思脳 and 悩, that originated from a baby’s skull. They all share the same ten style shapes with a diagonal crisscross inside (囟).  The baby’s skull became 田 in two kanji 細 and 思, and a receptacle with a メ in 脳 and 悩.

One more “not rice paddies” 田 here — 胃.

[C] The shape 田 from “stomach”     

  1. The kanji 胃

History of Kanji 胃In bronze ware style of the kanji 胃, the top was a stomach that contained food. The dots signified that it had food particles and was not empty. The bottom came from a piece of meat, which signified that the writing was about a part of a body. Together they meant “stomach.” There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 胃 /i/ means “stomach,’ and is in 胃腸 (“stomach and intestines” /ichoo/).

Next we are going to move onto another topic of “habitats.” Since we have discussed a house in the bushu ukanmuri “house,” anakanmuri “opening (in a cave dwelling),” and madare “house with one side open” before we spent four posts on the bushu ta “rice paddies,” how about returning to a house and looking at a door and a gate next time?   [July 25, 2015]

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]