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]

Hand and Bushu Tehen: 手挙拳摩打持推 – “hand” (6)

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We have been looking at various shapes that originated from a hand. In this post we look at the kanji that contain the shape 手 itself (手, 挙, 拳 and 摩) and the bushu tehen (打, 持 and 推.)

1. The kanji 手 “hand; person with hand skill; method”

History of the Kanji 手 "hand"This is an open hand with five fingers and a wrist area, which seems to me the most obvious shape for a hand. However, I found only bronze ware style, in green, and ten style, in red. I had to go back to the sources a few times to make sure that I did not miss any oracle bone style. It puzzles me.

It is not surprising how many meanings a hand has: 1) a hand as a physical feature, as in 手 (“hand” /te’/) and 手でする(“to do by hand” /te’de suru/) ; 2) a person who has skill using a hand, such as 運転手 (“driver” /unte’nshu/), 選手 (“participating athelete” /se’nshu/) and やり手 (“an enterprising man” /yarite/); 3) skills in the use of a hand, as in 上手 (“skillful” /joozu’/) and 下手 (“unskillful” /heta’/); 4) a way or method as in 手法 (“method” /shuhoo/) and 奥の手 (“the last resort” /o’kunote/); and 5) something on one’s hand to own, such as 手に入れる(“to obtain” /te’ ni-ireru/) and 手にする (“to obtain; hold in one’s hand” /te’ ni suru/.

2. The kanji 挙 “to raise a hand; carry out”

History of Kanji 挙 ”to raise; carry out"The kanji 挙 looks to have a single hand in kanji, but if you look at its ten style, it had as many as five hands! At the top were two hands from either side and an interlocking shape in the middle. At the bottom were two hands from either side and another hand inside. In the last post we saw the kanji 興 having four hands that gave the meaning “to raise,” but this topped that in terms of the number of hands. How did it get reduced to a single hand? The kyujitai 擧, in blue, serves as the middle step: The two hands at the bottom were replaced by two strokes (ハ) left and right. In shinjitai, the top was replaced by a truncated katakana tsu (ツ). The history of kanji is a history of simplification of shape to make writing easier, to write and to read. We have seen this process in the top of the kanji 覚 “to be conscious of” and 学 “to learn”: In kyuujitai 覺 and 學 got replaced with the katakana tsu shape at the top, as discussed in an earlier post [link.] With five hands in its ancestor, the kanji 挙 means “to do something together at once, and is used in words such as 一挙に (“at a stroke” /i’kkyo ni/,) 挙手 (“raising a hand” /kyo’shu/) and 結婚式を挙げる (“to carry out a wedding ceremony” /kekko’nshiki o ageru/.)

3. The kanji 拳 “fist”

History of Kanji 拳 "fist"Similar to 挙 is 拳. In ten style the top was used phonetically for /ke’n/, and was the same as the kanji 券 (“ticket” /ke’n/), which had 刀 “knife; sword” instead of 手. The kun-reading is /kobushi’/ “fist” and it makes the word 拳銃 (“pistol” /kenjuu/.) After simplification of 擧 to 挙, the kanji 挙 and 拳 look so much alike. In trying to find either kanji in isolation in a dictionary or on the computer, I often pick the wrong kanji first.

4. The kanji 摩 “to rub; knead and soften by hand”

History of Kanji 摩 "rub; knead"The top 麻 was hemp or flax whose fibers needed to be pounded by hand to soften. There is another kanji that uses 麻, which is 磨 (“to polish; hone” /migaku/.) It has a stone 石 underneath instead of a hand 手. In 摩, adding a hand below emphasizes kneading- or rubbing-like work that one does by hand. The kun-reading is not used often and the on-reading /ma/ is in 按摩 (“massage” /anma/) and 摩擦 (“friction” /masatsu/.)

So the three kanji we have just looked at have direct use of a hand. Next we look at three kanji that have a bushu tehen. In the past I have touched on a few kanji that contained a tehen: 振 “to shake” from 辰 “clam” [link]; 採 “to adopt” from 采 “picking from above” and 授 “to bestow” from the original meaning of 受 “to receive” [link]. Let us look at a few more.

5. The kanji 打 “to hit” (and 丁 “block”)

History of Kanji 打 and 丁

Only ten style is available for 打, so let us look at the kanji 丁 “block.” In oracle bone style, in brown, and bronze ware style, in green, 丁 was a “nail”, or something oblong. With a tehen added, the kanji 打 got the meaning of hitting a nail by hand to pound it in. So it meant “to hit.” In a baseball game 打者 (“hitter; slugger” /da’sha/) uses his arms and the kun-reading is in 打つ (“to hit” /u’tsu/.) In Japanese there is a prefix うち- “emphatic” that makes up many words such as 打ち明ける “to confide,” 打ち合わせ “staff meeting; informal meeting,” うち興じる ”to make merry” and 打ち消す “to deny.” This prefix must be of Japanese origin. Shirakawa (2004) mentions that there was a use of the kanji 打 as an emphatic prefix in Chinese. I do not have knowledge of how these two facts were related, and I am curious.

6. The kanji 持 “to have” (and 寺 “temple”)

History of Kanji 持 and 寺Only ten style is available for 持, but we can get some insight from 寺 on the right. For 寺, the bronze ware style writing had a footprint or foot (the precursor of 止) and a hand. In ten style an extra line was added, making the shape 寸. Together they meant that one used feet and hands to work in a place, specifically in a government office. Later on Buddhist monks stayed in the government building and it came to mean a “temple.”  Now back to the kanji 持 –寺 was used phonetically for /ji/ and probably for its meaning of a hand. Adding a tehen emphasized that one had something in hand. The kun-reading  持つ  /mo’tsu/ means “to hold in hand; own,” and is in 持ち物 (“one’s property” /mochi’mono/.) The on-reading is in 持参する (“to bring something with one” /jisan-suru/.)

7. The kanji 推 “to push forward; guess”

History of Kanji 推The right side is 隹, a bushu hurutori “bird,” which I discussed earlier  [link], but here it was used phonetically for /sui/ to mean “to push forward.” By adding a tehen, it meant to push by hand. A bird was also used in fortune-telling or divination and had the meaning “to guess.” A hurutori was also used for guessing, as in 誰 (“who” /da’re/) even though in current writing hiragana is usually used. The kun-reading 推す /osu/ means “to thrust forward; to recommend,” and the on-reading /sui/ is in 推薦状 (“a letter of recommendation” /suisenjoo/), 推進する (“to propel” /suishin-suru/) and 推測 (”guess; conjecture” /suisoku/.)

In writing this post, I was not able to find any oracle bone style or bronze ware style that had a tehan. That leads me to conclude that the kanji that have a tehen were created after bronze ware style, most likely as 形声文字 semantic-phonetic composite writing. I was going to wrap up my “hand”stories in this post, but it looks like I need more posts to do so. [June 7, 2014]