Wednesday, 13 May 2015

読, Kanji of the Week

Japanese differs from its traditional Chinese counterpart (讀) in having 壳 on the right-hand side.  Graphically speaking, the Chinese symbol for "reading" is "language" combined with "sell" (言+賣=讀, cf. 读), whereas Japanese has ended up with the same meaning ("reading") instead being symbolically associated with the "husk" (壳/殻) of language.  I presume, however, that the 壳 was borrowed from 殻 at a time when the symbol still suggested a bell, drum, or some other musical instrument: 殻 shows a hand with a tool striking something presumed to make a sound, although the modern meaning is "husk" (or outer shell, etc.).