From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

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*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Kanji Mastery—Radical 93 (Cow/Ox)

[a] Pointed RF
Japan's major islands aren't particularly spacious by continental standards, and one will not find major pasturage anywhere but on Hokkaidō. Why, then, would one of the 214 lexical markers (the "radicals") found in Japanese characters have "cow," or "ox" among them? Well, because the Japanese writing system...comes from China. Please don't forget that. The Japanese borrowed the language wholesale (this is only a slight exaggeration) from China in the sixth, seventh, and eighth centuries, and then worked the materials into a truly distinctive (indeed, symphonic) blending of native culture and foreign borrowing. 

"Cow" came out in the wash, and has been a part of the language ever since. Even though Japan has never had major herds, it has become known for everything from Kobe beef to sukiyaki. Take a look at the etymology of the character.

[b] Cowpy RF
Radical 93
Chinese (Mandarin): niu2
Chinese (Cantonese): ngau4
Japanese (On reading): go, gyū
Japanese (Kun readings): ushi

Selections from The New Nelson Japanese-English Character Dictionary.
Radical 93
Ushi cow. At left: ushi hen. Nickname: Cow.

牛皮 ぎゅうひ          gyūhi              cowhide                   (cow + skin)

牛羊 ぎゅうよう      gyūyō             cows and sheep       (cow + sheep)
牛馬 ぎゅうば         gyūba             cows and horses      (cow + horse)
牛肉 ぎゅうにく      gyūniku          beef                          (cow + meat)
牛車 ぎゅうしゃ      gyūsha           oxcart                       (cow + cart)
牛舎 ぎゅうしゃ      gyūsha           cow barn/pen           (cow + shelter)
牛追 うしお(い)       ushio(i)           cattle herder             (cow + drive)
牛使 うしつか(い)   ushitsuka(i)     cattle herder             (cow + lead)
牛鍋 ぎゅうなべ      gyūnabe         sukiyaki                     (cow + pot)
牛糞 ぎゅうふん      gyūfun            cow manure              (cow + excrement)

The standard combinations above (and they certainly have their own kind of intellectual adhesion, as they bind together like Velcro) give way to compounds that require at least a little bit of contemplation.

牛蒡 ごうぼう         gobō                burdock                  (cow + burdock)
牛痘 ぎゅうとう      gyūtō               cowpox, vaccine    (cow + pox/smallpox)

牛疫 ぎゅうえき      gyūeki             rinderpest               (cow + epidemic)
牛飲 ぎゅういん      gyūin               drink like a cow       (cow + drink)

and, finally...gluttony:

牛飲馬食 ぎゅういんばしょく   gyūinbashoku    gluttony    (cow + drink + horse + eat)

[c] Focus RF
We'll conclude with a number of characters that have the element 牛 in them. Be sure to note the difference between the radical marker on the left side of many "ox/cow radical" characters and the normal form you have seen up until now. The left side element is called ushi hen, and should be clearly distinguished from the "hand" radical (number 64). 

Compare these two characters: 捕 and 特. The first character has the "hand" radical, while the second has the "cow" radical. Learn to distinguish these.

 ロウ                        RŌ                                     prison, jail, hardness
 ボク                       BOKU                                 shepherd, care for, raise
 ブツ, モツ, もの     BUTSU, MOTSU, mono     thing, object, matter
 セイ, いけにえ       SEI, ikenie                          sacrifice, offering, gift 
 とく                       toku                                     special, especially
 ケン, ひく    KEN, hi(ku)                        draw, pull, haul, tug 
[d] Radical RF

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