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 家宇宙宮官管館–うかんむり


Now that we have finished with physical features of a person and postures, we begin shapes that originated from human habitats. The first shape we look at is a house. The most common shape for a house is what is known as a bushu ukanmuri (宀) – a truncated shape of a katakana /u/ ウ and a kanmuri (冠) “crown; cap.” A bushu ukanmuri is often explained as a “roof,” but we will see that in the ancient writing it was a house with walls reaching the ground or a huge cover that wrapped around completely.

1 The kanji 家 “house; family”

History of Kanji  家The kanji 家 is a familiar kanji even to a beginning learner. On the left, In oracle bone style, in brown, bronze ware style, in green, and ten style, in red, it had a house, and inside that was a pig. Together they meant a house that had domesticated animals such as pigs. Then it meant a “house” where people live. The bottom by itself is the kanji 豕 (“hog; pig” /i’noko/), which we do not use much at all. StrokeOrder家The stroke order is shown on the right.

History of Kanji 豕 (frame)The history of 豕 is shown on the right. In the oracle bone style sample we can recognize the shape as some sort of animal that was placed vertically. The second bronze ware style sample was unmistakably a picture of a pig. In ten style, it was the skeleton of a pig.  Using this shape, we get the kanji 豚 (“pig” /buta/) by adding a bushu nikuzuki “fresh; meat.”

The kun-yomi is 家 /ie’/ “house; home.” Another kun-yomi /uchi/ (“house; home” /uchi/) is in 家中で (“the entire family” /uchijuu-de/.) The on-yomi /ka/ is in 家族 (“family” /ka’zoku/), 家庭 (“home; family” /katee/) and 一家 “the entire family” /i’kka/).  Another on-yomi /ke/ is a go-on and is in 家来 (“vassal” /ke’rai/) and 石川家 (“the Ishikawa family” /ishikawa’ke/).

2  The kanji 宇 “space”

History of Kanji 宇For the kanji 宇, inside was 于. History of Kanji 于 (frame)The development of 于 is shown on the right. 于 came from supporting poles in making a bent shape, and had the sound /u/. 于 meant “a large bent shape.” A universe was viewed as a space that was covered by an imaginary huge semi-circular cover, like a dome. So in this kanji, the bushu ukanmuri was the semi-circular cover of the space, rather than a house. The kanji 宇 meant “roof; space.” There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /u/ is in 宇宙 (“universe” /u’chuu/).

3 The kanji 宙 “in the air”

History of Kanji 宙For the kanji 宙, the oracle bone style and ten style samples had a house or big cover. Inside the cover, 由 came from an empty gourd. When a gourd ripens, its oily substance leaks out and the inside becomes hollow. Emptiness under a big cover meant “space; suspended in the air.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /chu’u/ is in 宙ぶらりんの (“pendant; unsettled” /chuuburarin-no/), 宙返り (“somersault; tumble” /chuuga’eri/), 宙吊り (“suspension in the air” /chuuzuri/) and 宙に浮く (“to float in the air” /chu’u-ni uku/), 宇宙飛行士 (“astronaut” /uchuuhiko’oshi/).

4  The kanji 宮 “palace; prince”

History of Kanji 宮In oracle bone style and bronze ware style, inside the house were two square shapes, which signified rooms or houses. In ten style the two squares became connected with a short line. “A house or estate that had many rooms or houses” meant a “palace.” It also meant the royalty who lived in a palace or mansion – “prince or princess.” The kun-yomi 宮 /miya’/ “prince; princess” is in 宮様 (“loyal prince or princess” /miyasama/) and 宮仕え (“court service; life of a government official” /miyazu’kae/). The on-yomi /kyu’u/ is in 宮殿 (“palace” /kyuuden/), 王宮 (“royal palace; court” /ookyuu/). Another on-yomi /gu’u/ is in 明治神宮 “the Meiji Shinto shrine” /meejijingu’u/).

5  The kanji 官 “official; governmental; sense”

History of Kanji 官For the kanji 官, in oracle bone style and bronze ware style, inside a house was a shape in which two round shapes were connected. This shape was traditionally viewed as mounds of dirt or a hilly area where many people gathered and worked (based on the Setsumon account). Together they meant “government office; official.” There is another view (Shirakawa) that inside was a piece of meat that was offered at the altar in a military ceremony before going to a battle. It was a place where only military leaders were able to go inside. The kanji that contain this, such as 師 and 追,  also had a military origin. Bureaucracy is an organization of many offices, each having its own function in a huge network. Interestingly this meaning of having a network was applied to senses in a human body. The 官 also meant “body senses.” StrokeOrder官The stroke order is shown on the right.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ka’n/ s in 官民 (“governmental and non-governmental” /ka’nmin/), 官僚 (“bureaucrat” /kanryoo/), 官吏 (“government employee” /ka’nri), 官立 (“government-supported or -run” /kanritsu/) and 教官 (“instructor” /kyookan/). For the meaning of organ, it is in 器官 (”organ” /ki’kan/), 五官 (“five organs; five senses-目耳鼻舌身” /gokan/), and 官能的 (“sensual”/kannooteki-na/).

6  The kanji 管 “pipe”

History of Kanji 管We have two more kanji that contain 官 – 管 and 館 for this post. In the ten style of 管, the top was a bushu takekanmuri “bamboo.” The inside of a bamboo stalk is hollow, like a pipe. The bottom 官 was used phonetically for /ka’n/. Together they meant a pipe. It also meant “to control, administer.” The kun-yomi 管 (“pipe; tube” /ku’da/) is in the expression 管を巻く (“to talk incoherently over drink” /ku’da-o-maku/), an interesting expression, isn’t it. The on-yomi /ka’n/ is in 管理する (“to manage; administer” /ka’nri-suru/), 保管 (“custody; safekeeping” /hokan/), 水道管 (“water pipe” /suidookan/) and 血管 (“blood vessel” /kekkan/).

7  The kanji 館 “large building; mansion”

History of Kanji 館In the ten style of 館, the left side came from food in a bowl. It became a bushu shoku-hen “to eat; food.” The right side was 官, which meant many people inside a house. Together they signified a place where many people gathered and ate. It means “large building; mansion.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ka’n/ is in 旅館 (“Japanese-style inn” /ryokan/), 図書館 (“library” /tosho’kan/).

In the next post, I am thinking about discussing the bushu anakanmuri and others. [June 13, 2015]