Tuesday, October 5, 2010

覚えにくい単語 / 「たからくじ」の漢字。

So here's a word that I just can't keep in my head: lottery. I'd give the Japanese version, but I'm determined to fish it out of my tired brain. I know the verb for "to hit the lottery" is 当たる, which makes perfect sense, but the word for the lotto itself is a meaningless jumble of syllables.... like five syllables.... たからくじ! Is that right? 意味はなんでしょうか。 takarakuji. Let's see what Kotoba says.

(If Genki doesn't teach you a certain kanji, it won't use it, so sometimes it's difficult to tell what's habitually written with kanji and what's not.)

So there are two kanji in takarakuji:

宝 takara
籤 kuji

Apparently 宝 means treasure, and 籤 in both forms means lottery or raffle. Interesting: although the two forms of kuji both carry the meaning of "lottery", they have some differences in readings: the common-use one is SEN, kuji, and kazutori, and the old one is KYOU and kuji. All the kanji compounds that Kotoba lists for both have something to do with lotteries, drawing lots, luck, etc. Interesting stuff. ヘンシャー先生に相談しよう。。。



takara 宝 is a gimme: 玉 under a roof. Pretty literal.

籤の漢字は。。。。 見つけられないですよ。 Henshall has nothing to say about kuji or its origins. それでは、部首を調べましょう。。。 おほぅ! Jisho lists three that I can see that are about lotteries: 籖, 觽, and 鬮.

籖: kun: kazutori, kuji; on: SEN. Lottery or raffle. Not jouyou. Looks like we have 竹 as tsukuri, with tsuchi 土, hoko 戈, and this crazy 韭, which Jisho says means a leek (but which has no kun'yomi whatsoever). I guess leeks aren't big in Japan.

觽: kun: kujiri, tsunogiri; on: E, KI, KEI, SUI. Judging by its variants, this one has a sense of ivory or horn (角, which is its hen). (Why is tsuno 角 the same kanji as kado 角, corner?—ahh, なるほど, Henshall says kado came from a pictograph of a horn.) The tsukuri includes yama 山 and the weird 隹, which I've seen interpreted as "feathers", "bird in tree", and "old bird". (Henshall says it's a pictograph.) Also not jouyou. "Giri" is interesting; is it related to this sense of obligation, 義理? Some kind of obligation/debt brought on by a horn that resulted in (perhaps) a chance or death or something. Obscure!

But this one is the real prize:

鬮: This one is a bona fide pictograph! You can see an animal in it. Blow it up if you don't believe me. The outer structure is 門ish, but it doesn't connect; just a vertical on the left and a vertical with kick on the right, and inside two 王. Beneath those there's what can only be a literal interpretation of some kind of animal—perhaps a tortoise? Ah, yes—Jisho says that the 鬥 part ("broken gate") is no longer in use (and lists 0 readings for it) but the 亀 part is jouyou and jinmeiyou and means turtle. (You can see the shell and tail.) Exciting!

There are some other sources that follow up on the on'yomi kazutori (which may have something to do with drawing numbers—kazu 数 and toru 取る?), but probably that reading was assigned way after the fact. Still have no idea what the origins of "kuji" might be.

Bet on the turtle.

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