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Advanced Japanese Lesson: 水に関する漢字




「洗濯」のように「洗」に組み合わされる「濯」にも「さんずい」が見られますよ。右側は「羽+隹」。「隹」の部分は、他の漢字でもよく見かけませんか? 「隹」は「とり」と読み、「鳥」を表わしています。字形が似ていますものね。木の上に鳥がたくさんいると「集」という文字になり、「あつまる」と読みます。また、「焦」は「こがす、こげる」と読み、鳥を火であぶってちりちりと焦がす様子が漢字になっています。鳥がすいすいと飛んで前に進むから「進」という文字には「隹」がいますね。





It is said that a person’s body is 60% water. We cannot survive without water, and it is needless to say that civilizations have grown in areas where there’s water.

There are also many kanji that relate to 水 or “water”.  The radical called sanzui seen on the left of a kanji, has as many as 642 references in even a standard Japanese dictionary.  Among them, let me introduce you to a few kanji that are frequently used in our everyday lives.

The 先 or “point” that is found in 洗,  is 足+人 or “leg + person”,  and represents the tip of your feet. Between each toe, there’s some space. The act of washing between these spaces is 洗う or “to wash”.

In 洗濯 or “laundry” the 濯 that is constructed with 洗 also has a sanzui. The right side is 羽 or “wing”+隹.
Do you see the 隹 part in other kanji?  隹 is read as tori and represents a 鳥 or “bird”.  The shape of the characters look alike.  If there are many birds on a tree, you get the character 集 which is read as atsumaru or “gather”.  Also, 焦 is read as kogasu, kogeru or “burn”, and it’s a kanji that represents a chicken if you roast it over a fire and burn it.  進 or “advance” contains隹 because a bird smoothly flies forward.

Going back to the topic, 濯 contains the image of a bird raising its wings high, by quickly raising the things being washed, then putting them back in water, then raising them again… and in this image the formation of the kanji represents the movement of the washing.

Now, how about 沈 or “sink”.
is 牛+川 or “cow + river”, and it represents the ritual of sinking a cow in a river. Also, since 枕 or “pillow” is a piece of bedding to sink your head into, that’s why you write木 or “wood”+

The opposite kanji for the meaning of sink is 浮 or “float”.  Now, how about this. On the right, you have 爪+子 or child, and 爪 represents the nails on your hand.    When you represent the image of protecting a young child with your hand it looks like this, 孚 or “nourish”, and the image of floating face down as if you’re dearly holding the water has become 浮.