In the last two posts, we explored kanji that originated from “tree.” In all of these kanji (休本体末抹朱株 and 未妹味昧制製果課裸菓, except 休) the shape 木 for “tree” was sort of hidden in a different shape. I would like to add a couple more to this group–業乗. We then start exploring kanji in which 木 appears as it is as a bottom or left component –楽薬林森条査染机案極.
- The kanji 業 “work; skills; deed; act”
For the kanji 業, the top of (a) in bronze ware style, in green, and ten style (c), in red, had notches to hang a number of musical instruments, and the bottom was its stand. This view came from Setsumon and is the prevalent view in references. The fact that such a stand became writing suggests the importance of musical instruments in a ceremony and religious rite in ancient times. It came to be used to mean “skills; work; one’s deed.” On the other hand Shirakawa takes the view that it was wooden frames that were used to ram dirt down to make a strong foundation or wall, and that from those boards in construction 業 came to mean “work” in general. In Buddhism it is used for “karma” from the Sanskrit word that meant “deed; act.”
The kun-yomi 業 /waza’/ means “work; deed; act,” and is in 仕業 (“one’s doing; act” /shiwaza/). The on-yomi /gyo’o/ is in 工業 (“manufacturing industry” /ko’ogyoo/), 産業 (“industry” /sangyoo/), 業務 (“work; service” /gyo’omu/), 授業 (“class; lecture” /ju’gyoo/). Another on-yomi 業 /goo/ means (“karma; inevitable retribution”).
- The kanji 乗 “to climb; ride”
We looked at the kanji 乗 exactly two years ago in connection with “foot.” [One Foot at a Time (3) 無舞乗 on July 20, 2014.] The oracle bone style, in brown, and bronze ware style writings was a man standing on top of a tree with his two feet anchored outward for a sure foothold. It meant “to ride, to get aboard.” There is another interpretation for the two feet in the ten style writing – two people (ヒ) were sitting on a tree. The kyujitai writing, in blue, reflected ten style. In shinjitai, the two feet, or people, lost their shape and became short lines. For sample words, please refer to the earlier post.
- The kanji 楽 “music; pleasant; enjoyable; comfortable”
There are different views on what the top of the kanji 楽 originated from — a swing drum on a stand (Setsumon); bells with a handle which had ornamental threads on both sides (Shirakawa); a string instrument, from a fingernail (白) plucking two strings of threads (幺) (Kadokawa); and acorns on a kunugi tree that were used phonetically to mean “fun; to enjoy.” A musical instrument making pleasant rhythmic sounds meant “music; pleasant; enjoyable; comfortable.” The kyujitai writing 樂 reflected ten style but it was simplified to 楽 in shinjitai.
The kun-yomi 楽しい /tanoshi’i/ means “enjoyable,” and is in 楽しみにする (“to look forward to” /tanoshi’mi-ni-suru/). The on-yomi /ga’ku/ is in 音楽 (“music” /o’ngaku/). Another on-yomi /raku/ is in 気楽な (“carefree; easygoing” /kiraku-na/) and 楽々と (“with great ease” /rakura’ku-to/).
- The kanji 薬 “medicine; pharmaceutical”
The kanji 薬 has a bushu kusakanmuri “plant; plant life; vegetation” on top of the kanji 楽. The bottom 楽 was used phonetically for /raku/ to mean “medicinal herb.” Together they meant “medicine; pharmaceutical.” Just like 樂, 薬 was simplified to 薬
The kun-yomi /kusuri/ means “medicine; herbal medicine,” and is in 薬屋 (“pharmacy; drug store” /kusuriya/). /-Gusuri/ is in 飲み薬 (“internal medicine” /nomigu’suri/) and 目薬 (“eye drop” /megu’suri/). The on-yomi /yaku/ is in 薬品 (“medicine; chemicals” /yakuhin/).
The next two kanji are self-explanatory –林森.
- The kanji 林 “wooded area”
In all the ancient writings in three styles shown on the left, it had two trees side by side. They meant “woods; grove.” When 木 is placed on the left side of a kanji, it is a bushu kihen, and the fourth stroke becomes short.
The kun-yomi /hayashi/ means “wooded area; grove.” The on-yomi /ri’n/ is in 林立する (“to stand close together”/rinritsu-suru/), as in 高層ビルが林立する (“crowded with high-rise buildings” /koosoobi’ru-ga rinritsu-suru/).
- The kanji 森 “forest”
In oracle bone style the kanji 森 had three trees, either in a triangle shape or side by side. A lot of trees meant “forest.” Deep in a forest also gave the meaning “mystic.”
The kun-yomi /mori/ means “forest.” The on-yomi /shi’n/ is in 森林 (“forest” /shinrin/). The phrase 森羅万象 /shi’nra banshoo/ means “all things in nature.”
- The kanji 条 “line; streak”
The kanji 条 had the kyujitai 條. The ten style writing had quite a few discrete items– the left side was a person; the middle vertical line was water trickling down; and the right side had a hand holding a stick at the top and (a branch of) a tree. In an earlier post on the bushu bokuzukuri/bokunyoo [Kanji Bushu ぼくづくり攵・攴(1) 改攻枚教 on October 18, 2014], we saw that “a hand holding a stick” became a bushu bokuzukuri/bokubyoo (攴・攵) and meant “action; to cause an action.” In ten style all the components together made up the meaning of “a standing person being purified with water sprinkled by shaking a twig of a tree.” From “trickle of water” it meant a long thin lines or a sentence line in a document such as a section or article of law. In shinjitai, curiously the line for water trickling down that meant “line” disappeared together with a person. Only the right side remained, but even then 攵 changed to 夂 “backward.”
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /jo’o/ is in 条件 (“condition” /jooke’n/), 条約 (‘treaty” /jooyaku.), 条例 (“ordinance; regulations” /jooree/), 一条の光 (“a ray of light” /ichi’joo-no hikari/) 憲法九条 (article 9 of the Japanese Constitution) and the phrase 金科玉条 (“golden rule” /ki’nka gyokujoo/).
- The kanji 査 “to inspect”
査 was not discussed in Setsumon. In kanji, the bottom 且 was used phonetically for /sa/. The use of 査 to mean “to examine” was said to have come from a dialectal use or borrowing.
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /sa/ is in 検査 (“inspection” /ke’nsa/), 査定 (“assessment” /satee/), 査証 (“visa” /sashoo/), 審査 (“examination; investigation” /shi’nsa/), 調査 (“survey; investigation” /cho’osa/) and 巡査 (“police constable” /junsa/).
- The kanji 染 “to dye”
The ten style of the kanji 染 had “water; liquid” on the left side. The right side was wilted leaves and a tree, signifying tree extract to dye. Together soaking fabric in tree extract liquid meant “to dye.” The kanji 染 meant “to dye.”
The kun-yomi 染める /someru/ means “to dye.” In Japan it is also used for 染みる (“to soak; permeate” /shimiru/, as in 心に染みる (“to sink into one’s heart” /kokoro’-ni shimiru/). The on-yomi /se’n/ is in 染色 (“dyeing” /se’nshoku/), 染料 (“dye” /senryo’o/), 感染 (“infection” /kansen/) and 汚染 (“contamination; pollution” /osen/).
- The kanji 机 “desk”
In ten style, the left writing was a low stand with a leg on two sides. It was also used as a stool to sit on or an armrest. The right ten style writing had “wood” on the left. A wooden low table became the kanji 机 “desk; writing table.”
The kun-yomi /tsukue/ means “desk,” and is in 文机 (“low writing table” /huzu’kue/). The on-yomi /ki/ is in the expression 机上の空論 (“a mere theory; an academic theory that cannot be put into practice” /kijoo-no-kuuron/).
- The kanji 案 “plan; proposal; to worry”
For the kanji 案, the top 安 was used phonetically for /a’n/. The bottom 木 “wood” signified a wooden table. (For the discussion of the kanji 安, please read the previous post [Kanji Radical 女 おんなへん – 女好妹要妻安 on November 23, 2014].) One thought about a matter in order to make a proposal at a desk. From that, it meant “plan; proposal; idea.” Sitting at a desk pondering for a long time also gave the meaning “anxious; to be worried.”
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /a’n/ is in 案を練る (“to work out a plan” /a’n-o ne’ru/), 立案する (“to make a proposal” /ritsuan-suru/), 案内 (“guide; showing around a place” /an-na’i/) and 案じる (“anxious; to worry” /anjiru/).
- The kanji 極 “extreme”
In bronze ware style, it was a person standing in a constricted space. In ten style, a tree was added on the left side. Setsumon treated 極 and 棟 as the “ridge beam” of a house. The room between the ridge beam and roof is very small. In ten style, “wood” and a hand of another person pushing the standing person into a tight corner, and was used phonetically for /kyoku/ to mean “extreme.” Together they meant “extreme.”
The kun-yomi 極める /kiwame’ru/ means “to reach the end; go to the extreme,” and is in 極めて (“extremely; very” /kiwa’mete/). The on-yomi /kyo’ku/ is in 究極 (“extreme; limit” /kyuukyoku/), 極限 (“utmost limit” /kyokugen/), 極端に (“extremely” /kyokuta’n-ni/) and 南極 (“the Antarctic” /nankyoku/).
There are many more kanji that contain 木 “tree; wooden” in various positions of kanji. We will have one more posting on kanji with 木 next week. Thank you very much. [July 30, 2016]