Saturday, May 15, 2010


The kanji 列 (レ, レツ, RETSU) is also of interest because although it means a row/column/rank/file, if you add ninben (the 人 radical in the hen position, on the left) you get 例 (たと/レイ), an example.

(And now 例えば is making me think of conditional forms and なぜなら. たとえる, to give an example? たとえば, if an example were given.... なぜなら、 if you want to know why.... ほかの同様な表現があるかなあ。)

But in 列 and 例 we have those bones again, just as in 残 (ザン, ZAN). And cutting. Henshall先生 explains that once (昔々) there was a strict sequence to dismembering a carcass (cutting it to the bone), one task after another, and that adding ninben led to people in a row and thus comparisons and somehow examples. (Henshall includes among the meanings of 例 likening and precedents.) So, 例外 レイガイ, reigai, outside of precedent—an exception.

Searching Saiga's kanji dictionary and Kotoba for all containing those two 部首 (bushu, radicals) yields a few other kanji:
  • 烈 (RETSU. 列 with the fire radical) meaning violence/intensity
  • 裂 (RETSU, sa・ku, sa・keru, 列 with the clothing radical), meaning severing/cleaving or bursting. Per Henshall, this originally referred to cutting cloth (in sequence), and then to rending cloth, and then to splitting or bursting other things. 凄い。

Kotoba adds eight more to the list, mostly with on'yomi of RETSU/RECHI/REI and no meaning given. With radical sansui, it's mayo・i, pure. With kusakanmuri, it's ashinoho, sedges. With kuchihen, a mouth, it's (not surprisingly) a gaping or stretched mouth, a grimace.

Anyway, so it makes sense that 列 might double for 連 sometimes, when the sense is linking/joining/continuity/sequence/succession—which is the question that got us thinking about RETSU in the first place. I guess it must have been chosen for meaning and then picked up the reading of つら・なる from existing spoken language.

面白い: Henshall gives as an example (例) the compound 烈女 (RETSUJO), a heroine, a furious/intense woman. Among the possibilities for "hero/protagonist", nothing seems to use 烈.

変: Just looked up 例える (tatoeru), and the dictionary says it's "to compare". So there's once again that idea of comparison that Henshall says somehow evolved from ranks of people/soldiers. I kinda see how comparing might mesh with examples, but...実は。。。。

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