The Kanji 重腫種童動働衝鐘憧瞳- tied wrapped stuff with a shaft through (2)


In the last post we explored kanji that came from the shape that described something wrapped in cloth that was tied around at both ends and in the middle and had a shaft going through in the middle. By itself it became the kanji 東. In this post we are going to look at two other shapes that contain the same origin but with additional components. In the kanji 重腫種 “dirt” and “a person” were added, while in the kanji 童動働衝鐘憧瞳 “a tattooing needle over an eye” signifying “slave” was added.

Let us begin with the three kanji 重腫 and 種: To 東, 土“dirt; soil” and “a person” were added.

  1. The kanji 重 “heavy; large; to treasure; to lay over”

History of Kanji 重For the kanji 重 (a) in bronze ware style, in green, comprised “a person” at the top, “stuff wrapped in cloth tied around at both ends and in the middle with a shaft going through,” as in 東, and “soil” (土) signifying “weight” at the bottom. Together “a person standing on top of a heavy load stamping it down on the ground” meant “heavy.” Putting something over from the top also meant “to lay over; pile; repeat.” Something heavy should not be taken lightly and meant “important; previous.” The kanji 重 means “heavy; large; to treasure; to lay over.”  [Composition of the kanji 重: ノ, 一 and 里 with the vertical line reaching ノ]

The kun-yomi 重い /omoi/ means “heavy; grave,” and is in 重荷 (“heavy load; responsibility” /omoni/) and 身重 (“pregnant” /miomo/). The second kun-yomi 重ねる /kasaneru/ means “to repeat; lay over.” The third kun-yomi /e/ is in 八重桜 (“double-pedaled cherry bloosom” /yaeza’kura/), 二重 (“twofold” /huta’e/). The on-yomi /juu/ is in 重量 (“weight” /juuryo’o/), 重要な (“important” /juuyoo-na/) and 厳重に (“sternly; closely” /genjuu-ni/). Another on-yomi /choo/ is in 重宝する (“to find something useful; handy” /cho’ohoo-suru/), 貴重な (“precious; important” /kichoo-na/) and 慎重に(“cautiously” /shinchoo-ni/).

  1. The kanji 腫 “swelling; boil; tumor”

History of Kanji 腫The seal style writing of the kanji 腫 comprised 月, a bushu nikuzuki “part of the body” and 重 used phonetically for /shu/ to mean something inside. The curved shape of tied stuff was applied to one’s body and meant “swelling; boil; tumor.” The kanji 腫 means “swelling; boil; tumor.” [Composition of the kanji  腫: 月 and 重]

The kun-yomi 腫れる /hareru/ means “to swell.” The on-yomi /shu/ is in 腫瘍 (“tumor” /shuyoo/).

  1. The kanji 種 “seed; kind; sort”

History of Kanji 種For the kanji 種 in seal style (a) comprised 禾 “rice plant with crop” and 重 “heavy” used phonetically for /shu/. Grains that were full and heavy made good seeds and were kept for the next sowing. Seeds also differentiated plants.  (The right side of (b) is the shape we look at in the next group.) The kanji 種 means “seed; kind; sort.” [Composition of the kanji 種: 禾 and 重]

The kun-yomi 種 /ta‘ne/ means “seed.” /-Dane/ is in 一粒種 (“the only child of someone” /hitotsubuda’ne/). The on-yomi /shu/ is in 種類 (“kind; sort” /shurui/), 人種 (“race; ethnic group” /jinshu/) and 品種 (“kind” /hinshu/).

The next shape was in the kanji 童動働衝鐘憧瞳– to 東, “a tattooing needle” and “an eye” were added.

 4.The kanji 童 “young child”

History of Kanji 童The bronze ware style writing of the kanji 童 was very long because it contained four separate components on top of another. The top had “a tattooing needle” (辛) and “an eye” (目), together signifying “a prisoner or slave who got tattooed above the eyes.” The bottom had “rolled stuff tied with a pole through” (東) and “dirt” (土), together making up 重 “heavy.” Altogether they signified “a prisoner or a slave who was made to do manual labor such as moving heavy dirt.” The meaning of punishment was dropped. Someone who was ignorant like a prisoner or slave meant “child.” The seal style writing dropped “an eye.” In kanji a needle became 立 and the bottom coalesced into 里 (no relation to the kanji 里). The kanji 童 means “young child.”  [Composition of the kanji 童: 立 and 里]

The kun-yomi 童 /wa’rabe/  is in 童歌 or わらべ歌 (“children’s nursery song” /warabe’uta/). The on-yomi /doo/ is in 童謡 (“children’s song” /dooyoo/) and 童心に帰る(“to retrieve one’s childlike innocence” /dooshin-ni ka’eru/).

  1. The kanji 動 “to move”

History of Kanji 動For the kanji 動 in bronze ware style (a) was the same as 童 “prisoner; slave” who moved heavy stuff. (b) had “a crossroad” on the left, 童 on the right and “a footprint” at the bottom. Together they meant “to move or push forward something heavy.” (c) in Old style a crossroad and a footprint became 辵, the precursor of a bushu shinnyoo, and 重. However, in (d) in seal style instead of 辵 力“a plough” was used to include strenuous work such as field work. The kanji 動 means “to move.” [Composition of the kanji 動: 重 and 力]

The kun-yomi 動く/ugo’ku/ and its transitive counterpart 動かす /ugoka’su/ mean “to move.” The on-yomi /doo/ is in 移動する (“to move; shift” /idoo-suru), 手動 (“manual operation” /shudoo/), 原動力 (“driving force” /gendo’oryoku/), 行動 (“behavior; act” /koodoo/), 動物 (“animal” /doobutsu/) and 一挙一動 (“every move; the slightest move” /i’kkyo ichidoo/).

  1. The kanji 働 “to work; operate”

The kanji 働 was created in Japan, thus no ancient writing existed. The kanji 働 comprises イ, a bushu ninben “an act that one does,” and 動, whose original meaning was “manual heavy work” used phonetically for /doo/. Together they meant “one working hard like doing field work or moving heavy stuff.” The kanji 働 means “to work; operate.” [Composition of the kanji 働: イ, 重 and 力]

The kun-yomi 働く /hataraku/ meant “to work.” /-Batara-ki/ is in 只働き (“working for nothing.” The on-yomi /doo/ is in 労働者 (“laborer” /roodo’osha/), 稼働する(“to operate; work” /kadoo-suru/) and 実働時間 (“actual working hours” /jitsudooji’kan/).

  1. The kanji 衝 “to collide; crash”

History of Kanji 衝For the kanji 衝 the two seal style writings both had 行 “crossroad” signifying “to move forward.” Inside (a) was 童 used phonetically for /shoo/ to mean “to strike” while (b) had 重 used phonetically for /shoo/. The original meaning of a pole going through gave the meaning “to push something through.” Together “striking or to push something forward” meant “to collide; road.” The kanji 衝 means “to collide; crash.” [Composition of the kanji 衝: 彳, 重 and the right side of 行]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /shoo/ is in 衝突 (“collision; clash; falling-out” /shoototsu/), 衝動的な (“impulsive” /shoodoo-teki-na/) and 衝撃 (“impact; shock” /shoogeki/).
8. The kanji 鐘 “a large bell”

History of Kanji 鐘For the kanji 鐘 (a), (b) and (c) comprised 金 “metal” and 童 used phonetically for shoo. It was a large bell for a festival and religious rite to strike with a stick. The kanji 鐘 means “a large bell.” [Composition of the kanji 鐘: 鐘 and 童]

The kun-yomi 鐘 /kane/ means “a bell.” The on-yomi /shoo/ is in 警鐘 (“alarm bell” /keeshoo/).

  1. The kanji 憧 “unsettled; to yearn after; admire”

History of Kanji 憧The seal style writing of the kanji 憧 comprised “a heart,” which became 忄, a bushu risshinben “heart” placed on the left side, and 童 used phonetically for /doo/. Together they meant “an unsettled heart.” It also means “to yearn after; admire.” The kanji 憧 means “unsettled; to yearn after; admire.”[Composition of the kanji 憧: 忄and 童]

The kun-yomi 憧れ /akogare/ means “yearning.” The on-yomi /doo/ is in 憧憬 (“yearning” /dookee/).

  1. The kanji 瞳 “pupil; eye”

There is no ancient writing of the kanji 瞳. The kanji comprised 目 “eye” and 童 used phonetically for /too/. Together they meant “pupil of an eye.” The kanji 瞳 means “pupil; eye.” [Composition of the kanji 瞳: 目 and 童]

The kun-yomi 瞳 /hitomi/ means “pupil; eye.” The on-yomi /doo/ is in 瞳孔 (“pupil” /dookoo/).

Our “something wrapped in cloth that was tied around on both ends and in the middle and had a shaft going through in the middle” (I need to rephrase this wordy descrition at one point) does not end with the twenty kanji we have explored. It extends to another small group of kanji and that will be our topic next week.  Thank you very much for your reading. – Noriko [April 21, 2018]

The Kanji 東動働重童-力 “power” (3)


In continuing the bushu 力 “power; strength”, we are going to look at the kanji 動 and 働 in this post. In the two kanji 動 and 働, the obvious starting point is the kanji 重.  When we look at ancient writing, discussing the kanji 重 further takes us to the kanji 東.

(1) The kanji 東 “east”

The kanji 東 is the kanji that we study at a very early stage (we need it for 東京 “Tokyo” /tookyoo/!). Your teacher tried very hard to make kanji meaningful to the class and may have said something like, “Can you see the sun, 日, inside a tree, 木, in this kanji?  Morning sun shines through the branches of a tree in the east.  So, the kanji 東 means ‘east.’”  Forty years ago, when I first started to teach Japanese and looked for a way to explain kanji, I also came across this explanation. Even then I felt doubtful about it. Apparently that was the explanation given in the Setsumon Kaiji, the utmost authoritative etymology source of Chinese characters.  So, it has been retold timelessly.

The history of the kanji 東(abc)The ancient writings tell us a different story. In oracle bone style, (a) in brown, and bronze ware style, (b) in green, it was a bag that was tied around a pole, with two ends tied tightly and the middle wrapped around as well.  The middles of these samples do not look anything like the sun.

History of the kanji 日

The History of the kanji 日

At the time of the oracle bone style and bronze ware style, shown on the right, the sun was a circle with a dot, long or short, in the middle, that signified that the inside was not empty.  It was only in ten style, (c) in red, when the middle dot became a line across.

What did a bag of stuff with a pole going through have to do with the direction “east”?  The answer is, “Nothing.” The writing was borrowed to mean “east.” Borrowing means it had no relevance to the meaning or sound of the original kanji. Borrowing a shape for a direction was not uncommon: the kanji 西 “west,” from a basket, 南 “south,” from a musical instrument, were borrowed. The kanji 北, “back to back,” was used phonetically for “north.”  This was just the ground work for the kanji in this post.

The kun-yomi 東 /higashi/ means “east.”  Another kun-yomi /a’zuma/ also meant “east.” The on-yomi /to’o/ is in 東京, 東海道 (“the Tokaido road” /tooka’idoo/) and 東北地方 (“northeast region” /toohokuchi’hoo/), 中東 (“Middle East” /chuutoo/).

(2) The kanji 重 “heavy; weight”

The history of the kanji 重(de)The bronze ware style sample, (d), of the kanji 重 consisted of a person on top, a bag that was tied around, and soil at the bottom. In ten style, (e), it had the shape of a person bending over at the top, and below that was the same as (c) in 東, and the dirt at the bottom. The person’s feet were connected all the way to the ground.  Together a person with a heavy bag standing on the ground meant “heavy.”

The kun-yomi is in 重い (“heavy” /omoi/), 重たい (“heavy” /omotai/), and 重み (“weight” /omomi/).  Another kun-yomi 重ねる (“to pile; lay something on the other” /kasaneru/), 重ね重ね (“repeatedly” /kasanega’sane/). The on-yomi /ju’u/ is in 二重 (“double” /nijuu/), 厳重に (“closely; strictly” /genjuuni/).

(3) The kanji 動 “to move” and the kanji 童 “young child”

The history of the kanji 動(fg)In the kanji 動, the left side 重 was just explained. If we jump to the ten style, (g), we see what we expect from the kanji 重, with the plough for 力 “power” on the right side. Together they meant applying power to move heavy stuff, or “to move.”  So far it makes sense, doesn’t it.

But what about the bronze ware style, as in (f)?  It had a large tattoo needle (辛) with a big handle, and an eye underneath at the top. (f) in bronze ware style was different from (d), 重 in bronze ware style. Why is that? Even though the ten style, (e) for 重 and (g) for 動, are closely similar, why are the bronze ware styles from which they developed so different? What a bother…, but we will not give up.  There is a reason. Ancient creators of writing used a tattoo needle in various kanji. The bushu 言 and 音 that we saw earlier were just a few of the examples. Another example of use of a tattoo needle was that a convict was tattooed as a punishment for a crime.

History of the kanji 童

History of the kanji 童

I remember that earlier I had come across a shape that was the same as (f).  It was the bronze ware style of the kanji 童, shown in (h) on the right. (f) and (h) had to be the same.  In 童, someone who had a tattoo, a convict, did a heavy manual work. (We recognize a heavy load and the soil in (h) and (i).)  The needle over an eye symbolized blindness to knowledge or not having freedom. Later on, the meaning of convict was dropped and the kanji meant someone who was ignorant. That is a young child. The kanji 童 means “young child.”

Now back to our kanji 動. The kanji 動 originally meant “to work hard” or “physical work.” The writing was later taken away to mean “to move” or “to move stuff,” which is the current use.

The kun-yomi 動く (“to move” ugo’ku/) is 身動きできない (“cannot budge; cramped” /miu’goki deki’nai/), 動き回る (“to move about” /ugokimawa’ru/).  The on-yomi /do’o/ is in 運動 (“exercise” /undoo/), 活動 (“activity” /katsudoo/) and 自動ドア (“automatic door” /jidoodo’a/).

(5) The Kanji 働 “to work; labor”

What happened to the original meaning of “working hard” that 動 had? That is where the newer kanji 働 comes in.  The kanji 働 was created in Japan to mean “to work (using one’s body).” So, there is no ancient writing existed. Logically a kokuji (国字), a kanji that was created in Japan, does not have an on-yomi. But the kanji 働 just took the on-yomi of the kanji 動 /do’o/.

The kun-yomi /hataraku/ means “to work for wages” and is in ただ働き (“work without pay” /tadaba’taraki/). The on-yomi /do’o/ is in 労働 (“labor” /roodoo/) and 稼働する (“(machine is) in operation” /kadoo-suru/).

The year 2015 is hitsujidoshi, “the year of the sheep,” written as 未年.The kanji 未 and the animal sheep have no relation, so it is just an arbitrary use. I would like to touch on the kanji 羊 to celebrate the new year in the next post. [1_6_2015]