The Kanji 食飯餓館飽飾飲餌養 – Food (1)


食と食へんThe new area of topics we are going to explore in the this and next several postings is around a kitchen, cooking, measuring, etc. We start kanji with a bushu shokuhen “eating; food” – 食飯餓館飽飾飲餌養. A bushu shokuhen has one stroke fewer than the kanji 食, as shown on the right. We shall also see that not all the kanji with a bushu shokuhen originated from 食.

  1. The kanji 食 “to eat; meal”

History of Kanji 食For the kanji 食, in (a), (b) and (c) in oracle bone style, in brown, it was “food in a raised bowl with a lid.” (b) had the dotted lines on both sides. I am unable to find the account for this in reference, but I am wondering if they signified that there was so much food that it was spilling over. It meant “food; to eat.” (d), in green, was in bronze ware style. In seal style (e), in red, some scholars analyze it as 皀 with 𠆢 — “a cover” (𠆢), “food” (白) and “a spoon; ladle” (ヒ). The kanji 食 means “to eat; food.”  <The composition of the kanji: 𠆢 and 良>

The kun-yomi 食べる /tabe’ru/ means “to eat,” and is in 食べ物 (“food” /tabe’mono/). Another kun-yomi 食う /ku’u/ has many uses — 食う (/ku’u/ “to eat” – a male speaker’s style; or used for an animal), 電池を食う (“to use up battery” /de’nchi-o ku’u/), 足止めを食う or 食らう (“to be prevented leaving” /ashidome-o-ku’u; kura’u/), 虫が食う (“to be eaten by worms” /mushi-ga-ku’u/), 食い止める (“to stop; hold back” /kuitome’ru/), 食ってかかる (“to go at someone; lash out at someone” /ku’ttekakaru/) and 食い違う (“do not match; go wrong” /kuichigau/). The on-yomi /shoku/ is in 食事 (“meal” /shokuji/), 朝食 (“breakfast” /chooshoku/), 食材 (“food; ingredients” /shokuzai/), 粗食 (“plain food” /soshoku/), 食料品 (“foodstuffs; groceries” /shokuryoohin/) and 給食 (“school lunch” /kyuushoku/).

  1. The kanji 飯 “cooked rice; meal”

History of Kanji 飯For the kanji 飯, in bronze ware style and seal style it comprised “food in a raised bowl with a lid,” and 反, which was used phonetically for /han/. Together they originally meant “cooked grains such as rice and millet.” The kanji 飯 means “cooked rice; meal.” <The composition of the kanji 飯: a bushu shokuhen and 反>

The kun-yomi 飯 /meshi’/ means (“mea” /meshi’/ by a male speaker), and is in 昼飯 (“lunch” /hirumeshi/ by a male speaker), 握り飯 (“rice ball” /nigirimeshi/) and 朝飯前 (“piece of cake; snap” /asamashima’e/). The on-yomi /han/ is in (お)赤飯 (“steamed sticky rice with red azuki beans” for a celebratory meal /oseki’han/ or /sekihan/), 炊飯器 (“(electric) rice cooker” /suiha’nki/), 五目ご飯 (“rice cooked with a few other ingredients” /gomoku-go’han/) and in the expression 日常茶飯事 (“daily occurrence” /nichijoosaha’nji/). /-Pan/ is in 残飯 (“leftovers from a meal” /zanpa’n/).

  1. The kanji 餓 “to starve”

History of Kanji 餓For the kanji 餓, the seal style writing comprised “food in a raised bowl with a lid,” and 我, which was used phonetically for /ga/ to mean “to starve.” The kanji 餓 means “to starve.” A few postings ago, we looked at another kanji that meant “to starve” – the kanji 飢. The kanji 飢 focuses on lack of food (such as in famine).   <The composition of the kanji 餓: a bushu shokuhen and 我>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ga/ is in 飢餓 (“starvation” /ki’ga/), 餓死 (“death due to starvation” /ga’shi/) and 餓鬼 (“imp” /ga’ki/; “young mischievous kid; brat” spoken by a male speaker” /gaki’/).

4. The kanji 館 “building; large house”

History of Kanji 館For the kanji 館, the seal style writing had “food in a raised bowl with a lid” (食), and 官 “a place where military officers stay,” which was used phonetically for /kan/. Together they originally meant “a place where many people gather and eat.” The kanji 館 means “a large building; mansion.”  <The composition of the kanji 館: a bushu shokuhen and 官>

The kun-yomi 館 /yataka/ means “a mansion; a large house.” The on-yomi /kan/ is in 旅館(“Japanese-style inn” /ryokan/), 会館 (“hall; clubhouse; building” /kaikan/), 図書館 (“library” /tosho’kan/), 大使館 (“embassy” /taishi’kan/) and 水族館 (“aquarium” /suizoku’kan/).

  1. The kanji 飽 “to grow tired; weary; be fed up; full”

History of Kanji 飽For the kanji 飽, in Old style the left side of (a), in purple, had “a covered bowl of food.” The right side had “a hand” over “a baby.” Together they meant “feeding a baby to full stomach.” The top of (b) is not clear, but it could be two doors to an altar, and (b) means “to offer food to satisfy a god.” In seal style in (c) the right side was replaced by 包 “to wrap up completely,” from a baby in mother’s womb, and was used phonetically for /hoo/ to mean “full.” After eating much food one’s stomach was full. With too much of anything one gets weary of. The kanji 飽 means “to become tired of; be saturated; weary; full.”  <The composition of the kanji 飽: a bushu shokuhen and 包>

The kun-yomi 飽きる /aki’ru/ means “to grow weary of; become tired of.” It is in 飽きが来る (“to grow tired of” /aki’ga-kuru/), 飽き足らない (“unsatisfying” /akitaranai/), 聞き飽きた (“I got tired of hearing it” /kikia’kita/) and 飽くまで (“to the bitter end; to the last; stubbornly” /aku’made/). The on-yomi /hoo/ is in 飽和 (“saturation” /hoowa/).

  1. The kanji 飾 “to decorate”

History of Kanji 飾For the kanji 飾, the left side of the seal style writing had 食 “food in a raised bowl with a lid” and 人 “person” on the right top, and 巾 “cloth” at the bottom. Together they meant “a person in front of a bowl of food wiping the bowl with a piece of cloth.” It meant “to make it clean or pretty.” The kanji 飾 meant “to decorate; embellish.”  <The composition of the kanji 飾: a bushu shokuhen, a short ノ, 一 and 巾>

The kun-yomi 飾る /kazaru/ means “to decorate,” and is in 髪飾り(“hair accessory” /kamika’zari/), 飾り付け (“decoration” /kazaritsuke/) and 着飾る (“to dress up” /kikazaru/). The on-yomi /shoku/ is in 修飾語 (“modifier” in grammar /shuushokugo/), 服飾デザイナー (“dress designer” /hukushoku-deza’inaa/) and 粉飾決算 (“fraudulent account; window dressing settlement” /hunshoku-ke’ssan/).

In the next three kanji – 飲餌養, the bushu shokuhen originated from something other than “food in a raised bowl with a lid.”

  1. The kanji 飲 “to drink; swallow”

History of Kanji 飲For the kanji 飲, in oracle bone style (a) had “a person trying to drink wine from a large wine cask.” If we look at (a) closely, the tongue was a forked shape, as was in the ancient writings of the kanji 舌 “tongue,” indicating eating. It meant “to drink (wine).” (b) in oracle bone style was a large wine cask (酉) with a stopper at the top. The left side of (c) and (d) in bronze ware style and (e) in seal style had a wine cask with a stopper. The right side was a person trying to drink or opening his mouth wide. In the kyuji 飮, (f) in blue, the cask was replaced by a bushu shokuhen “to eat; food.” The reason could be that a bushu 酉 was primarily used for fermented liquid and the kanji 飲 is more inclusive of liquids and food that one drinks or swallows without chewing. The kanji 飲 meant “to drink; swallow.”  <The composition of the kanji 飲: a bushu shokuhen and 欠 >

The kun-yomi 飲む /no’mu/ means “to drink; swallow,” and is in 飲み込む (“to swallow; understand” /nomiko’mu/), 飲み込みがいい (“quick to comprehend” /nomikomi-ga-ii/), 飲食店 (“restaurant” /inshoku’ten/), 飲料水 (“drinking water” /inryo’osui/) and 誤飲 (“drinking or swallowing by mistake” /goin/).

  1. The kanji 餌 “bait; feed”

History of Kanji 餌For the kanji 餌, the two seal style writings, (a) and (b), had totally different shapes. (a) was “a vessel to keep grains” (鬲) with 耳 on top, which was used phonetically for /ji/ to mean “flour dumpling.” Together they originally meant “steamed dumpling.” (b) had “food on a raised bowl with a lid” on the left side, and 耳 “ear,” which was used phonetically for /ji/. The kanji 餌 means “animal feed; bait; lure.”  <The composition of the kanji 餌: a bushu shokuhen and 耳>

The kun-yomi 餌 (“bait; lure; animal feed” /esa’; e’/), and is in 餌付ける (“to feed (to domesticate)” /ezuke’ru/) and 餌食になる (“to become a victim” /e’jiki-ni-naru/). The on-yomi /ji/ is not on the Joyo kanji list.

  1. The kanji 養 “to support; nourish; foster”

History of Kanji 養For the kanji 養, (a) in oracle bone style and (b) and (c) in bronze ware style had a sheep on the left, which was used phonetically for /yoo/ to mean “to feed.” The right side was “a stick held by a hand,” signifying “action.” Together they signified sheep farming. The right side would have become 攴 in kanji, but in seal style, (d), the kanji 食 “to eat; food” replaced it. The kanji 養 means “to support (by providing food); nourish; foster.”  <The composition of the kanji 養: 羊 with a short last stroke, 八 and 良>   (P. S. — Actually (a) was “a cow; ox,” judging from the shape of the horns. August 20, 2017)

Other kanji such as 飼 “to keep animal,” 飢 “to starve” and 餅 “rice cake” do not have ancient writing and are phonetic-semantic kanji, in which a bushu shokuhen signified “food.”

In this posting we have seen in all the kanji that a bushu shokuhen, which is one stroke fewer than the kanji 食, pertains to food, eating or drinking.  Some kanji even did not contain 食 in earlier writings, but for the meaning of “food; eating” a bushu shokuhen took over as a semantic feature.  We shall continue exploring the topic around food preparation and eating in the next several postings. Thank you very much for your reading. – Noriko [August 19, 2017]

The Kanji 未妹味昧制製果課裸菓–“tree” (2)


This is the second post on kanji that originated from “tree.” The kanji we are going to look at are 未妹味昧・制製・果課裸菓.

In the last post, we looked at 末, which had a long horizontal stroke at the top that came from just a marking bulge called hiten pointing out the top of a tree. In contrast the kanji we are going to look at here first is 未, which had a short stroke at the top, but it actually came from a real line rather than just a symbol.

  1. The kanji 未 “not yet; still”

History of Kanji 未rIn the oracle bone style writings of 未 (a), in brown, there was an upward-facing U-shape line placed on a tree. It signified that the tree was growing with rigor and the limbs were even outgrowing the trunk. It originally meant “a tree growing strong.” In the second oracle bone sample (b), bronze ware style, (c) in green, and ten style, (d) in red, the top limbs were in a more well-formed shape. The original meaning “a tree growing strong” was borrowed, or came, to mean something that had not been completed. The writing 未 meant “not yet; still.”

The kun-yomi 未だ /mada/ means “not yet; still.” Another kun-yomi 未だに /imada-ni/ means “not yet; still.” The on-yomi /mi/ is in 未来 (“future” /mi’rai/), 未明 (“early morning; dawn” /mimee/), 未然に防ぐ (“to prevent beforehand” /mizen-ni huse’gu/).

  1. The kanji 妹 “younger sister”

History of Kanji 妹(frame)A long-time reader of this blog may recall reading such a story given in 1 above before in the kanji 妹 in the context of a bushu onnahen “woman; female.” [Kanji Radical おんなへん-女好妹要妻安 on November 23, 2914.]  A female member of a family who was still growing meant “younger sister.” The history is shown on the right in a green box. For sample words, please refer to the previous post.

  1. The kanji 味 “taste”

History of Kanji 味For the kanji 味, in ten style the left side 口 was a mouth and the right side 未 was used phonetically for /mi/ to mean “not yet; still.” Tasting something in the mouth is the process of trying to figure out what it is. It meant “taste.”

The kun-yomi /aji/ means “taste,” and is in 味見する “to taste for a try,” 塩味 (“salty taste” /shio’aji/), 後味の悪い (“leaving a bad aftertaste; feeling an unpleasant effect” /atoaji-no-waru’i/). The on-yomi /mi/ is in 味覚 (“taste bud” /mikaku/) and 賞味期限 (“best before” date; food expiration date” /shoomiki’gen/). It is also used for other than food, such as 味方する (“to take someone’s side” /mikata-suru/), 興味ある (“interesting” /kyoomia’ru/) and 趣味 (“hobby; pastime” /shu’mi/).

  1. The kanji 昧 “self-absorption in something”

History of Kanji 昧The two kanji 味 and 昧 are easy to be confused in isolation. The kanji 昧 has a bushu hihen “sun” instead of a bushu kuchihen “mouth.” For the kanji 昧, (a) and (b) in bronze ware style, the top was 未 “not yet,” and the bottom was “the sun.” The time before the sun rose was dark, and from that it meant “not clear.” When one is self-absorbed in something, he cannot see other things. In ten style (c), 日 and 未 were placed side by side. The kanji 昧 means “self-absorption; indulge.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ma’i/ is in 曖昧な (“ambiguous; vague” /aimai-na/). 三昧 /za’nmai/ means “being self-absorbed in doing somethingor indulgence,” and is always used with other words such as 読書三昧 (“indulgence in reading books” /dokushoz’nmai/) and 釣り三昧 (“self-indulgence in fishing” /tsuriza’nmai/).

Overgrown limbs (the origin of 未) have to be trimmed back neatly. That is what happened to the next two kanji, 制 and 製.

  1. The kanji 制 “to control; regulate”

History of Kanji 制In ten style for 制 the left side was exactly the same as that of 未, whose original meaning was “a tree growing strong.” The right side was “knife.” Together “trimming overgrowing limbs at the top with a knife or a pair of shears” meant “to put in order; control; regulate.” In kanji an extra short stroke was added to emphasize pruning. (In the last post in 朱 and 株, we saw a similar device of adding an extra short stroke on top left of a tree.) The right side became a bushu rittoo “vertical knife,” which is a bushu shape when 刀 “knife; sword” was placed on the right side of kanji. The kanji 制 means “to put in order; control; regulate.”

  1. The kanji 製

History of Kanji 製For the kanji 製, in ten style the top was pruning a tree with a pair of shears, which became the kanji 制 “to regulate.” A well-maintained tree signified something well-made. The bottom was “clothes” from “collar.” Together they signified “to make clothes.” The meaning extended to mean manufacturing a well-made product with precision. The kanji 製 means “to manufacture products of even quality; product; made in.”

The next four kanji 果課裸菓 share the same shape 果.

  1. The kanji 果 “fruit; end; to perish”

History of Kanji 果rIn bronze ware style, it was a tree with berries or fruits on top.The oddly elongated wtiting (b) may be due to a particular stylistic effect. It meant “nut; fruit; berry.” It also meant something that came to fruition, thus, “results.” In ten style (c) the dots were lost. In Japan this writing also meant “to perish; end.” Could it be because fruits and berries perish very quickly?  The kanji means “fruit; result; outcome; to perish; end; carry out.”

The kun-yomi /kuda/ is in 果物 (“fruit” /kuda’mono/). Another kun-yomi 果て /hate/ means “end; result,” and in the verb 果てる (“to perish; die; be exhausted ” /hate’ru/). The on-yomi /ka/ is in 果実 (“fruit; fruition” /ka’jitsu/) and 結果 (“result” /kekka/).

  1. The kanji 課 “to impose; section; study subject”

History of Kanji 課 copyFor the kanji 課, in ten style the left side 言 was a bushu gonben “word; language.” The right side 果 was used phonetically for /ka/ to mean “to use; try.” Together they originally signified administering an employment exam. An applicant studied the materials and the examiner gave the test. An official examined the fee or levy, so it also extended to mean “charge.” The kanji 課 means  “section of study; lesson; to charge; impose.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ka/ is in 課する (“to levy; impose; assess” /kasu’ru/), 課目 (“subject of study” /kamoku/), 第三課 (“lesson 3” /da’i sa’nka/), 課題 (“assignment; question; problem” /kadai/), 課税 (“taxation”/kazee/) and 課長 (“section manager” /kachoo/).

  1. The kanji 裸 “bare; naked”

History of Kanji 裸For the kanji 裸, in the ten style writing 果 was phonetically used for /ka/, which was placed inside 衣 “clothes.” In the development of kanji, the shape of a component stayed in tact, not splitting up to allow other shape in between. There are some exceptions. 衣belonged to those exceptions, showing the back and front of a collar separately in some kanji. (The kanji 裏 “back; wrong side” is another example.) The role of 果 is not very clear in 裸 but some scholars think that smooth skin of a fruit and a body could be the connection. A body without clothes meant “bare; naked.”

The kun-yomi /hadaka/ means “naked; bare.” The on-yomi /ra/ is in 裸体 (“bare body” /ratai/), 全裸 (“completely naked” /zenra/) and 赤裸々な (“unvarnished; frank” /sekirara-na/).

  1. The kanji 菓 “sweets”

There is no ancient writing sample for the kanji 菓. Fruit was eaten as something sweet. The original writing for fruit, 果, came to have a wider meaning as discussed in 10, and a new kanji was created to mean “sweets” by adding a bushu kusakanmuri “plant; grass.” In Japan it originally meant “fruit processed with sugar,” and came to mean sweets that were made with bean or rice powder and sugar. The kanji 菓 means “sweets.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ka/ is in お菓子 (“snack; sweets” /oka’shi/). /-Ga/ is in 和菓子 (“Japanese-style sweets” /waga’shi/) and 洋菓子 (“western-style sweets” /yooga’shi/) and 生菓子 (“Japanese unbaked sweets” /namaga’shi/).

There are more kanji that contain a shape that originated from a tree. We will look at those before we start looking at kanji with a bushu kihen “tree; wooden” in the next post. [July 17, 2016]