The Kanji 凡帆汎同洞胴銅 – Co­ntainer (6)


History of Kanji - A vessel; tube-shapeThis is the second post on kanji that originated from a container. The word “container” in our exploration means an object in a broad sense that holds something, including ones for the purpose of transporting. The ancient writing shapes shown on the right were interpreted in four different meanings in this blog, the two of which (a) and (b) were discussed in the last post, and we are going to explore (c) and (d) in this post:

(a) “a boat” to transport on the water in the kanji 舟船舷舶 and as (b) “a shallow bowl; shallow vessel; tray” to transport by hand in the kanji 般搬盤服. In the next post we explore examples used as (c) “a sail” to transport things on the water in the kanji 凡帆汎 and as (d) “a tube-like shape; cylindrical” in the kanji 同洞胴銅.

(c) as “a sail” to transport things on the water 凡

  1. The kanji 凡 “all; common; ordinary; spreading”

History of Kanji 凡In the interpretation of 凡 (c) above, the two vertical lines (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, and (c) and (d) in bronze ware style, in green were “masts,” and the short horizontal lines were the outline of “a sail.” A sail caught wind. A sail is large, and covering a large area meant “all; nearly all; approximation.” In (e) in seal style, in red, the short line in the middle signified that inside was not hollow or empty. “All” means nothing special, thus “ordinary.” The kanji 凡 means “all; common; ordinary; spreading.”  [Composition of the kanji 凡: 几and ヽ]

The kun-yomi 凡そ (“approximately” /oyoso/) and 大凡 (“approximately; more or less” /ooyoso/). The on-yomi /bon/ is in 平凡 (“ordinary; common” /heebon/), 凡人 (“ordinary person” /bonjin/). Another on-yomi /han/ is in 凡例 (“legend: /hanree/).

  1. The kanji 帆 “sail”

There is no ancient writing. For the original meaning of “sail of a boat,” a new kanji 帆 was created by adding a piece of cloth 巾 on the left. The kanji 帆 means “sail.” [Composition of the kanji 帆: 巾 and 凡]

The kun-yomi /ho/ means “sail” and is in 帆立貝 (“scallop” from the shape /hotate’gai/). The on-yomi /pan/ is in 出帆する (“to sail from” /shuppan-suru/).

  1. The kanji 汎 “all; covering all; far and wide; pan-”

History of Kanji 汎The seal style writing had “water” and 凡, which was used phonetically for /han/ to mean “sail; large piece of cloth; to spread.” Together they meant “to float on the water.” Water spreading would cause a flood in a wide area. The kanji 汎 means “all; covering all; far and wide; pan-.” [Composition of the kanji 汎: 氵 and 凡]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /han/ is 汎用する (“to use frequently” /han-yoo-suru/), 汎用性のある (“versatile; widely useable” /han-yoosee-no-a’ru/) and (汎アメリカ主義 (“Pan-Americanism” /ha’n amerika-shu’gi/).

(d) 同 “a tube-like shape; cylindrical”

  1. The kanji 同 “same; identical”

History of Kanji 同The origin is not clear. One view is that the top of 1 and 2 in oracle bone style and 3 and 4 in bronze ware style was same as 凡, and in some instances as 舟. The bottom was 口 “mouth; to speak.” A tube-like shape signified that the opening from the front through the back was “the same.” The sides of the top shape were lengthened in (e) in seal style, which reflected in the kanji 同. The kanji 同 means “same; identical.” [Composition of the kanji 同: 冂, 一 and 口]

The kun-yomi 同じ /ona-ji/ or /onna-ji/ means “the same.” The on-yomi /doo/ is in 同一の “same; identical” /dooitsu-no/], 共同 (“cooporation; collaboration” /kyoodoo/), 同感する (“to agree with” /dookan-suru/), 同情する (“to sympathize” /doojoo-suru/) and 異同 (“discrepancy; distinction” /idoo/).

  1. The kanji 筒 “tube-like shape; cylindrical”

History of Kanji 筒The seal style writing had 竹 “bamboo” and 同, which was used phonetically for /doo; too/ to mean “tube-like shape,” a shape having straight parallel sides. Together they meant tube-like shape such as a bamboo. The kanji 筒 means “tube-like shape; cylindrical.” [Composition of the kanji  筒: 竹かんむり and 同]

The kun-yomi 筒 /tsutsu/ means “cylindrical object; tube,” and is in 筒抜け (“leaking out” /tsutsunuke/) and 茶筒 (“tea canister” /chazutu/). The on-yomi /too/ is in 封筒 (“envelop” /huutoo/) and 水筒 (“canteen; water bottle” /suitoo/).

  1. The kanji 洞 “cave; to penetrate”

History of Kanji 洞The seal style writing comprised “water” and 同, which was used phonetically to mean “a shape that was hollow.” Together they mean an area where water gushed through and made a shape that went through, such as cave. The kanji 洞 means “cave; to penetrate.” [Composition of the kanji 洞: 氵 and 同]

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /doo/ is in 洞窟 (“cave” /dookutsu/) and 空洞化 (“to become hollow; hollow out” /kuudooka-suru/).

  1. The kanji 胴 “torso; trunk”

There is no ancient writing. The kanji 胴 comprised 月, a bushu nikuzuki “a part of the body,” and 同, which was used phonetically for /doo/ to mean a tube-like shape. A part of a body that had a tube-like shape was “torso; trunk.” The kanji 胴 means “torso; trunk.” [Composition of the kanji  胴: 月 and 同]

There is no kun-yomi in the Joyo kanji. The on-yomi 胴 /do’o/ means “torso; trunk; waist,” and is in 胴体 (“trunk of the body; torso” /do’otai/).

  1. The kanji 銅 “copper”

History of Kanji 銅The bronze ware style and seal style writings comprised 金 “metal” and 同, which was used phonetically for /do’o/ to mean “red.” Together “red metal” (赤金) meant “copper.” The kanji 銅 means “copper.” [Composition of the kanji 銅: 金 and 同]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /do’o/ means “copper” and is in 青銅器 (“bronze artifacts” /seedo’oki/), 銅像 (“bronze statue” /doozoo/), 銅山 (“copper mine” /do’ozan/) and 赤銅色 (“brown; reddish brown” /shakudooiro/).

In the next post we move to other objects around a house. Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko [March 10, 2018]

The Kanji 金全銅同銀鉄鋼針銭-かねへん(1)


In this and next posts we are going to look at kanji that contain 金 the bushu kanehen “metal.” There are quite a large number of kanji with a kanehen among the Joyo kanji. There seem to be no oracle bone style samples of any kanji for the shape 金.

  1. The kanji 金 “metal; gold; money”

History of Kanji 金The generally accepted explanation of the kanji 金 is the Setsumon’s explanation that the top originated with 今, which was used phonetically for /kin/, and that the bottom was glistening metal nuggets in soil. I imagined a scene in nature or a mine with a roof. (In this blog, oracle bone style writing is shown in brown, bronze style writing is in green, and ten style writing is in red.) I would like to add another explanation (proposed by Shirakawa) – it was the composite of another kanji 全 and pieces of copper for casting. To understand this, the history of the kanji 全 is useful. So let us make a detour to look at the origin of the kanji 全.

The kanji 全 “complete; to fulfill”

History of Kanji 全For the kanji 全, the Setsumon’s explanation for (c) was that it consisted of a bushu hitoyane and 工. It also explained it earlier shapes, (a) and (b), as flawless perfect jewels or gems (王 is the same as 玉 “jewel; gem”). From that the kanji 全 meant “complete; perfect; to fulfill.” Shirakawa explained (a) as 佩玉 /haigyoku/ “gems strung together worn by a noble on the waist in a ceremony.” In this view the whole kanji was a single image of the jewelry rather than a composite of two components.

The kun-yomi 全く/mattaku/ means “completely; entirely.” 全うする /mattoo-suru/ means “to fulfill one’s mission; accomplish one’s purpose.” The on-yomi /ze’n/ is in 全部 (“whole; all” /ze’nbu/), 全体 (“the whole; entirely” /zentai/), 完全に (“completely; perfectly” /kanzen-ni/).

Now back to the kanji 金. In ancient times in China “metal” referred to bronze. It makes sense that the term 金文 is translated as “bronze ware style writing” in kanji history. Five kinds of metal were named by their color —黄金, from “yellow metal,” meant gold [金]: 黒金, from “black metal,” meant iron [鉄] ; 白金, from “white metal,” meant silver [銀]; 赤金, from “red metal,” meant copper [銅]; and 青金, from “blue metal,” meant lead [鉛].

The kun-yomi 金 /kane/ means “metal,” and is in お金 /okane/ meaning “money,” 金持ち “rich; wealthy” /kanemo’chi/). /-Gane/ is in 有り金 (“money left” /arigane/), and 黄金 (“golden; gold” /kogane/). /Kana-/ is in 金物 (“metal” /kanamono/). The on-yomi 金 /ki’n/ is a kan-on and means “gold,” and is in 借金 (“debt; borrowing money” /shakki’n/), 金属 (“metal” /ki’nzoku/), 金髪 (“blond hair” /kinpatsu/). Another on-yomi /kon or gon/ is a go-on and is in 黄金 (“golden” /oogon/). The word 金色 is read in two way — /kin-iro/ “golden” in kan-on reading; and /konjiki/ “golden” in go-on reading.

  1. The kanji 銅 “copper”

History of Kanji 銅For the kanji 銅, the bronze ware style writing had “metal” on the left side, and the right side was used phonetically for /do’o/ to mean “red.” Together they meant “red metal” (赤金), which is “copper.” The kanji 銅 means “copper.” When 金 is used on the left side it is called a bushu kanehen. Bronze is 青銅, which is a yellowish brown color but when rusted 銅 becomes greenish blue (緑青 “verdigris” /rokusho’o/).

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /do’o/ means “cupper” and is in 赤銅色 (“reddish dark color” /shakudooiro/), 青銅器 (“bronze ware” /seedo’oki/), 銅像 (“bronze statue” /doozoo/).

The kanji 同 “same; identical”

History of Kanji 同The right side of the kanji 銅 is the kanji 同 “same.” In oracle bone style and bronze ware style, it had a piece of board at the top and a hole at the bottom. A hole that went through boards enabled them to become one, which signified “the same.” In ten style, a part of the board became a line inside. The kanji 同 means “same; identical.”

  1. The kanji 銀 “silver”

History of Kanji 銀(frame)This kanji has been discussed over two years ago in the post Eyes Wide Open (4) 限, 眼, 根, 恨, 痕, 銀 and 退 on April 7, 2014. The ten style writing of the kanji 銀 had “metal” on the left. The right side was used phonetically to mean “white.” “White metal” (白金) meant “silver.” (In modern use, 白金 means platinum.) For sample words, please refer to the earlier post.

  1. The kanji 鉄 “iron”

History of Kanji 鉄黒金 “black metal” meant “iron.” The kanji 鉄 had a kyujitai 鐵, which came from ten style. In ten style the left side was metal; the center and right side together were used phonetically to mean “reddish black.” Together they meant “metal that becomes red when rusted,” which was “iron.” In shinjitai, the right side became the kanji 失, which resembled the pre-ten style writing, in purple.

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /tetsu/ means “iron.” It is in 鉄道 (“railroad; railway” /tetsudoo/), 私鉄 (“private railway” /shitetsu/), as in the nationally owned railway (国有鉄道 or 国鉄), which is now called JR (/jeea’aru/) after privatization in 1987, 地下鉄 (“subway; underground railway” /chikatetsu/), 鉄則 (“iron rule” /tessoku/), 鉄砲 (“gun; firearms” /teppoo/), 鉄火巻き (“sushi roll with pieces of raw tuna inside” /tekkamaki/), from the red color of heated iron and tuna.

  1. The kanji 鉛 “lead”

History of Kanji 鉛For the kanji 鉛, the left side was “metal,” and the right side was used phonetically for /e’n/ to mean “to flow along” (as in the kanji 沿 “to go along; follow”). Lead melts at a low temperature and runs quickly. From that the kanji 鉛 meant “lead.”

The kun-yomi /namari/ means “lead.” The on-yomi /e’n/ is in 鉛筆 (“pencil” /enpitsu/), 亜鉛 (“zinc” /a’en/), 無鉛ガソリン (“unleaded gasoline” /muenga’sorin/).

  1. The kanji 鋼 “steel”

The kanji 鋼There is no ancient writing for the kanji 鋼. The left side 金 was “metal.” The right side 岡 meant “a hardy mold that had been baked at a high temperature.” Together “hard and strong metal/iron” meant “steel.“ Steel, a hard, strong, gray alloy of iron with carbon is used extensively as a structural and fabricating material.

The kun-yomi 鋼 /hagane/ means “steel.” The on-yomi /ko’o/ is in 鉄鋼業 (“steel industry” /tekko’ogyoo/).

7. The kanji 針 “needle”

History of Kanji 針The orthodox writing (正字) for the kanji 針 was 鍼. The ten style writing of 鍼 had “metal” on the left, and the right side 咸 was used phonetically. History of Kanji 十This kanji is now used to mean “acupuncture,” an alternative pain treatment using needles. In shinjitai kanji 針, the 十 shape on the right side came from a needle with a bulge in the middle, as in the kanji 十 shown on the right. The kanji 針 means “needle.”

The kun-yomi /ha’ri/ means “needle,” and is 時計の針 (“clock hand” /tokee-no-ha’ri/) and 針金 (“thin wire” /harigane/). /-Bari/ is in 縫い針 (“sewing needle” /nuiba’ri/). The on-yomi /shi’n/ is in 方針 (“guideline” /hooshin/), 秒針 (“second hand” /byooshin/) and メーター検針 (“inspection/reading of a meter” /meetaake’nshin/).

  1. The kanji 鐘 “bell”

History of Kanji 鐘The kanji 鐘 consists of a bushu kanehen and the kanji 童. We have looked at the unusual origin of the kanji 童 in the previous post [The Kanji 東動働重童 on January 6, 2015.] Here it was used phonetically for /do’o/ only. The bronze ware style writings (a) and (b) became (c) in ten style. Another ten style writing (d) was also given in Setsumon as an alternative. The kanji 鐘 means “bell.”

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

  1. The kanji 銭 “money”

History of Kanji 銭For the kanji 銭, the left side in ten style was “metal.” The right side had two halberds, 戔, giving the sound /se’n/ and also meant “shaving something thinner.” Together they originally meant a plough that had thin blades. There were plough-shaped coins. From that it meant “money.” The kyujitai 錢, in blue, reflected ten style. The shinjitai simplified the right side, and it means “money; small change; coin.”

The kun-yomi 銭 /ze’ni/ means “money,” and is in 小銭 (“small change” /kozeni/) and 身銭を切る (“to pay for from one’s own pocket” /mizeni-to-ki’ru/). The on-yomi /se’n/ is in 金銭 (“money” /ki’nsen/), 一銭 (“one-hundredth of a yen” /isse’n/), 守銭奴 (“miser; scrooge” /shuse’ndo/).

There are many more kanji with a bushu kanehen. We will continue with them in the next post. [June 25, 2016]