The Kanji 通勇湧踊全詮栓傘 Container (4) 


In this fourth post on kanji that originated from a container and a lid, we are going to look at two common shapes, 甬 “a hollow cylindrical shape” that signified “to go through; fall through” in the kanji 通勇湧踊, and a bushu hitoyane (𠆢 or 亼) “cover” in the kanji 全詮栓傘.

History of Kanji 甬The shape 甬 had its own history shown on the right. There are different views on this shape. One is a person stamping his feet on a pole to push through a board. In this post we take the view that it was a hollow cylindrical shape that was formed by assembling pieces of wood. Being hollow gave the meaning “to fall through.” It is phonetically /yoo; too/.

  1. The kanji 通 “to pass through; go and come back regularly; commute”

History of Kanji 通For the kanji 通 (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, had “a crossroad” on the left and 甬 “a hollow cylindrical shape,” signifying “to fall through,” and “a footprint” in (a) added. Together they meant “to move on past a crossroad” or “to pass through.” In (c) in bronze ware style, in green, in addition to the two components it had “a round shape” at the top indicating “a rounded cylindrical shape,” such as a pail,” which changed to a マ shape in kanji. In (d) in seal style the footprint moved to the left side, and together with a crossroad they formed 辵, which coalesced into 辶, a bushu shinnyoo “to move forward.” Not having an obstacle in the passage also meant “to go and come back regularly.” It is also used in communication in speaking and telephone, etc. The kanji 通 means “to pass through; go and come back regularly; understand.” [Composition of the kanji 通: 甬 and 辶] (Please note that in writing 辶 has a wiggly line, as shown in the kanji in the table.)

The kun-yomi 通う /kayou/ means “to commute.” Another kun-yomi 通る /to’oru/ means “to pass by,” and is in 通り (“road” /toori/), 見通しだ (to be expected” /mitooshi-da/) and その通り(“True; exactly” /sono-to’ori/).  The on-yomi /tsuu/ is in 日本語が通じる (“be able to communicate in Japanese” /Nihongo-ga-tsuujiru/), 交通 (“traffic” /kootsuu/), 通信 (“communication” /tsuushin/), 通過する (“to pass through” /tsuuka-suru/), 通用する (“to be used; be accepted” /tsuuyoo-suru/) and 精通している (“familiar with; knowledgeable with” /seetsuu-shiteiru/).

2. The kanji 勇 “courage; brave”

History of Kanji 勇For the kanji 勇, the top of (a) in bronze ware style had “a hollow cylindrical shape,” signifying “to go through,” and was used phonetically for /yuu/. The bottom was “a plough,” signifying “to exert one’s strength.” Together they meant “one’s strength spurting.” (b) in Old style had “a heart” rather than “a plough” at the bottom. In seal style (c) had the two components placed side by side whereas (d) had “a halberd” instead of “a plough.” Together they meant to muster up one’s strength to do something. Bravery involves spurts of strength. The kanji 勇 means “courage; brave.” [Composition of the kanji 勇: マ, 田 and 力]

The kun-yomi /isamashi’i/ means “brave,” and is in 勇んで  (“in high spirits; with a light heart” /isa’nde/) and 勇み足 (“over-eagerness; rash” /isami’ashi/), as in 勇み足をする (to make a careless mistake by rushing”). The on-yomi /yu/ is in 勇気 (“courage” /yu’uki/), 勇敢な (“brave” /yuukan-na/), 勇退 (“voluntary retirement” /yuutai/) and 蛮勇 (“recklessness” /ban-yuu/).

  1. The kanji 湧 “to spring out”

History of Kanji 湧The seal style writing of the kanji 湧 comprised “water” and 甬 which was used phonetically for /yuu/ to mean “through.” Together they meant “water springing out from a well.” The kanji 湧く means “to bubble up; spring out.” [Composition of the kanji 湧: 氵and 勇]

The kun-yomi 湧く /waku/ means “to spring out.” The on-yomi /yuu/ is in 湧出する (“water springs out” /yu’ushutsu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 踊 “to dance”

History of Kanji 踊The seal style writing of the kanji 踊 comprised 足 “leg; foot” and 甬 used phonetically for /yoo/ to mean “to bubble up.” Together they meant “legs jumping up and down.” The  kanji 踊 means “to dance.” [Composition of the kanji 踊: 足へん and 甬]

The kun-yomi /odoru/ means ‘to dance,” and is in 盆踊り (“Bon festival group dancing” /bon-o’dori/). The on-yomi /yoo/ is in 舞踊 (“dancing” /buyoo/).

The next shape called a bushu hitoyane means “a cover.” The name comes from the shape of the kanji 人 and had not relation to its meaning. /Yane/ means “roof.”

  1. The kanji 全 “complete; perfect; to fulfill”

History of Kanji 全For the kanji 全  (a) in Large seal style, in light blue, had “a roof or cover” (𠆢 or 亼) that signified “to gather things under one cover”– a bushu hitoyane. The bottom was a set of flawless perfect jewels or jems (王). (b) in Old style had decoration that was in symmetry. The kanji 全 meant “complete; perfect; to fulfill.” [Composition of the kanji 全: 𠆢  and 王]

The kun-yomi 全く~ない (“completely not” /mattaku ~ na’i/). The verb 全うする /mattoo-suru/ means “to carry out; fulfil completely.” Another kun-yomi 全て /su’bete/ means “all.” The on-omi /zen/ is in 完全に (“completely; perfectly” /kanzen-ni/), 全部 (“all; entirety” /ze’nbu/) and 全然~ない (“not at all” /zenzen ~na’i/).

  1. The kanji 詮 “to discuss thoroughly; in the end”

History of Kanji 詮The seal style writing comprised 言 “word; language” and 全 “complete; thorough” used phonetically for /sen/. Together they meant that “details were worked out or elucidated.” It also means “to think thoroughly” and “in the end.” [Composition of the kanji 詮: 言 and 全]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /sen/ is in 詮索する (“to pry; inquire” /sensaku-suru/), 所詮は (“after all” /shosen-wa/) and 詮議する(“to give due consideration” /se’ngi-o suru/).

  1. The kanji 栓 “stopper; plug”

There is no ancient writing. The kanji 栓 comprises 木 “wood” and 全, which was used phonetically for /sen/ to signify “stopper; plug.” A wooden piece was used as a wedge or stopper. The kanji 栓 means “stopper; plug; wedge.” [Composition of the kanji 栓: 木 and 全]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 栓 /sen/ means “stopper; plug,“ as in ワインに栓をする (“to cork a bottle” /wain-ni sen-o-suru/), 水道の元栓 (“the main valve of water supply” /suidoo-no motosen/) and 耳栓 (“ear plug” /mimisen/).

  1. The kanji 傘 “umbrella”

The kanji 傘 does not have ancient writing. The kanji 傘 has a canopy (𠆢), folding frames (four 人) and a central rod (十). It meant an umbrella. It also meant a protecting force for many different things. The kanji 傘 means “umbrella; parasol; protecting force.” [Composition of the kanji 傘: 𠆢, two 人, 十 and two 人]

The kun-yomi /kasa/ means “umbrella,” and is in 傘立て (“umbrella stand” /kasata’te/).   /-Gasa/ is in 雨傘  (“rain umbrella” /amaga’sa/) and 日傘 (“parasol” /higa’sa/).

We shall continue exploring kanji that originated a container in the next posts  -Noriko [February 11, 2018 –Japan time]

The Kanji 道導述帝適敵通造ーしんにょう(4)

  1. The kanji 道 “road” and 導 “to guide”

History of Kanji 導The kanji 道 and 導 have been discussed in an earlier post in connection with a physical feature (The Kanji 民眠盲衆自面首道導 on June 6, 2015) – The upper right component 首 was a head with hair. The two kanji shared the same bronze ware style writing, in green, which consisted of a crossroad, inside which was a head with hair, and underneath was a hand. History of Kanji 道 (frame)Together they signified someone showing by hand the way to go, thus 導 meant “a hand guiding the way to go forward” or just “to guide.” (Ten style is in red.) Without a hand at the bottom it became the kanji 道 “road; way.” As I write this post I am wondering if the two Japanese words みち /michi/ and みちびく /michibi’ku/ existed before the kanji came to Japan and shared the same cognates, too. The word /hiku/ means “to draw; to pull; lead.” Another scenario is that the word みちびく came after the kanji introduction. To look into which was a historical fact is a totally different endeavor. For us in vocabulary study keeping in mind this possible relationship between みち and みちびく may be useful.

  1. The kanji 述 “to state”

History of Kanji 述When we looked at the kanji 術 three months ago in the post entitled the kanji 行街術衛 – ゆきがまえ (October 17, 2015), 術 was explained in two ways, depending on how the middle 朮 was explained. One explanation of 朮 from Setsumon was that “sticky millets around the stalk.” Another, by Shirakawa, was an “animal that was used to exorcise an evil spirit on a road.” Unlike 術, 述 had a bronze ware style sample, but it still does not give us a definitive answer – it looks like the top of the millet stalk drooping with grain, but it also looks like an animal. (One problem with Shirakawa’s account is that many kanji scholars seem to be skeptical of the existence of such magic practice.) Whatever the origin was, the kanji 朮 (it is not a Joyo kanji) meant もちあわ “sticky millet,” and in both kanji 術 and 述, it was used phonetically for /jutsu/. For us it is more convenient to understand 述 as one following what had been said, thus “to reiterate; state.”

The kun-yomi 述べる /nobe’ru/ means “to state; say.” The on-yomi /ju’tsu/ is in 述語 (“predicate” /jutsugo/), 記述する (“to describe; write down” /kijutsu-suru/), and 前述の (“aforementioned” /zenjutsu-no/).

The kanji 帝 “imperial,” 適 “suitable” and 敵 “enemy; foe” — In order to discuss the kanji 適 and its related kanji 敵, it would be helpful to look at the kanji 帝. I would have never imagined that those kanji would lead us to the kanji 帝, until I wrote about the two kanji 適 and 敵 for the Key to Kanji.

  1. The kanji 帝 “emperor; imperial”

History of Kanji 帝For the kanji 帝 in both of the two samples in oracle bone style, in brown, it was an altar table that had three crossed legs for stability. It was the most important altar table to place offerings for the ancestral gods and gods of nature. It signified the highest god that ruled the universe. From that it came to be used for “emperor; imperial.” In bronze ware style, the top, for most likely offerings, got separated. In kanji the bottom 巾 is probably the remnant of stabilizing three legs.

The kun-yomi 帝 /mikado/ means “emperor.” The on-yomi /te’i/ is in 皇帝 (“emperor” /kootee/), 帝国 (“empire” /te’ikoku/) and 帝国主義 (“imperialism” /teikokushu’gi/).

  1. The kanji 適 “suitable” and 敵 “enemy; foe”

History of Kanji 適The history of the kanji 適 and 敵 is shown on the left. The two kanji in bronze ware style were basically the same: The top was what the kanji 帝 was and the bottom was 口 “words; a prayer box.” Together they signified someone who could say a prayer in conducting the most important worship rite of the ancestral gods, that is, a legitimate heir to the throne. History of Kanji 敵When a bushu onnaben was added on the left side, it became the kanji 嫡 /cha’ku/, in words such as 嫡子 (“legitimate son or daughter; heir”/cha’kushi/). Now let us look at the kanji 適 and 敵.

The kanji 適 -In ten style the kanji 適 had the makings of a shinnyoo “to move forward” on the left side. Together from something that can move on it meant “to fit; suitable.” The kun-yomi 適う /kana’u/ means “suitable; qualified.” The on-yomi /teki/ is in 適当な (“suitable; fit” /tekitoo-na/), which is also used in the opposite meaning of “irresponsible.” It is also in 適応する (to adapt” /tekioo-suru/), 快適な (“confortable” /kaiteki-na/), 適材適所 (“the right person in the right position” /tekizaite’kisho/).

The kanji 敵 – In ten style the right side was a bushu bokuzukuri 攵 “to take an action; beat.” Together they meant someone who was a good match to be one’s enemy, or someone who was against the heir to the throne whom one should fight against, thus “enemy; foe.” The kanji 敵 means “enemy; foe” and also “to match; equal; rival.” It also retained the original meaning of “to fit.” The kun-yomi is 敵 /kataki’/ “enemy; foe.” The on-yomi /teki/ also means “enemy; foe,” but the kun-yomi /kataki’/ is a more emotional, stronger word. It is also in 敵味方 (“friend and foe” /tekimikata/), 天敵 (“natural enemy” /tenteki/), 敵意 (“hostility” /te’kii/), 無敵の (“matchless” /mutaki-no/).

(There are a couple of more Joyo kanji that include the same component – 滴 “drop,” and 摘 “to pick.” The component was used solely phonetically.)

  1. The kanji 通 “to pass through”

History of Kanji 通For the kanji 通, we have two oracle bone style samples shown on the left. In addition to a crossroad on the left side, and a footprint on the right, it had the shape that later became 用. In bronze ware style, a round shape was added on 用, which became 甬 in kanji. Even though scholars seem to agree that 甬 signified an action in which something went through, thus it meant “through; to pass through,” what the shape originally was came from is not agreed. One view is that the top was a person stamping on a stick to push it through; another is that the top was a hand pail 手桶 whose cylindrical shape signified something “through”; yet another is that it was just used phonetically. Whatever the origin, the katakana マ shape and 用 formed a single meaningful unit. Together with a bushu shinnyoo, the kanji 通 meant “to pass through; go and come back regularly.”

The kun-yomi 通る /to’oru/ means “to pass through.” Another kun-yomi 通う /kayou/) means “to commute; go repeatedly.” The on-yomi /tsu’u/ is in 通学する (“to commute to school” /tsuugaku-suru/), 通路 (“passageway” /tsu’uro/), 通勤時間 (“commuting time” /tsuukinji’kan/), 交通 (“transportation; traffic” /kootsuu/), and 通話記録 (“call log” /tsuuwaki’roku/).

  1. The kanji 造 “to make; assemble”

History of Kanji 造The kanji 造 means “to  make; do; assemble.” There seem to be a number of different views on the origin, including that it was just a borrowing. One thing agreed upon is that the upper right was a miscopy and was not related to the kanji 告. The bronze ware style and ten style samples are shown on the left. I hate to leave it this way, but I do not see an account that would be helpful for us to learn.

The kun-yomi /tsuku’ru/ means “to make.” The on-yomi /zo’o/ is in 創造 (“creation” /soozoo/), 造作なく (“easily” /zoosana’ku/), 造詣の深い (“to have profound knowledge” /zookee-no-huka’i/).

For other kanji that contain a bushu shinnyoo, such as 遠, 違, 選 and 達, please read the earlier posts. This post concludes our exploration of shinnyoo kanji. We have seen in each one of the kanji that (1) a bushu shinnyoo originated from two discrete shape-meaning units of a crossroad, either one side or both sides, and a footprint. The two elements remained discrete items through ten style.  (2) In kanji the two elements coalesced into one.  (3) a bushu shinnyoo added the sense of setting off an action or moving forward to the component that provided another meaning or sound.

There are a few more shapes that originated from something in human habitats that I would like to look at. In the next two or three posts, I am thinking about 廴, a bushu ennyoo, and 京 “a house on top of a hill” among other shapes. [January 23, 2016]

The History of the Kanji Radical Shinnyoo – 進迷通逆徒


History of Kanji with Radical Shinnyoo しんにょう http:/

In this post, I am going to discuss the development of shinnyoo (or shinnyuu, previously) しんにょう “to go forward.”  In my long years of teaching I have seen that many students find the shape and meaning of a shinnyoo difficult to understand and learn. The odd shape is the product of a long history of development.

It came from two shapes that represented two meanings: a crossroad and a footprint/foot or step. When one reaches a crossroad, he has to decide which way to go, and when he steps over across the crossroad he is going forward. In oracle bone style writing (column B) either a crossroad or a footprint was often used. In bronze ware style writing (column C) both appeared, with a footprint at the bottom of the main element. In ten style writing (column D) a crossroad became three curbs and a foot moved to the left side, forming a single component having the meaning of “to go forward.”

After ancient writing became kanji, the shape that will be eventually called shinnyoo in Japan has gone through three more shapes. First, in Reisho style, the earliest style of kanji, a crossroad became three diagonal strokes. I do not have reisho style examples for each of the kanji. For the second shape, shown in column E, I am using images that were taken from The Kangxi Dictionary, originally published in 1716, with a Japanese annotation (Watanabe 1885.)   In this publication, the shinnyoo consists of two short strokes and a hooked shape with a long extended stroke underneath (1E, 2E, 3E, 4E, and 5E.)   This shape of shinnyoo is still used in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

ThreeShapesofShinnyooThen, In Japan, particularly after the National Language Reform in 1946, we write a shinnyoo with one short stroke, a wave-like line and a long extended stroke underneath. That is the third shape. The second shape is called kyuujitai (old style) and the third shape is called shinjitai (new style).  In 2010, the Japanese government guideline revived the second shape in some kanji with a shinnyoo as “permissible.”

Now, back to the first table above, did you notice something odd about the kanji 徒 (5F) ?  The two elements in this kanji for “on foot” — crossroad and step — did not merge into a shinnyoo.  So, I got curious and looked up the Kangxi Dictionary. It noted that the shape in (5E), which had a shinnyoo, was  the older form of 徒 (5F).  This tells us that the modern kanji form 徒 went back to ten style (5D), skipping over the reisho style (5E.)  Another twist in our shinnyoo story.

In the long history of ancient writing of Chinese characters to the present-day Japanese kanji, some shapes disappeared and some did not.  When ancient creators of writing came up with the idea of combining existing shapes that had their own meanings into a new shape with a new meaning, it became possible to form an enormous number of new writing.  For that reason, a majority of the old written forms disappeared, except in dictionaries, and what survived are what we use in the modern writing.

Notes: A bushu shinnyoo is discussed further in the later posts (The kanji 進達返退迷逃近 and The Kanji 迎逆連軍運過速束込入.)  [December 28, 2015]

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