Thursday, April 17, 2008

荷 - A Grass Crown, What a BURDEN

Readings & Meanings:

load, burden

Common Usage:







They helped me move my luggage to the bottom floor.

Because I don't want to be a burden to the rest of the team, I practice hard.

The work is too much of a load for me.


艸, Kusa-kammuri, the grass crown, as seen here before.

I bet you're thinking, "I know the rest of this kanji. That's "nani" below the grass crown."

Yes and no. 何 is definitely below 艸, but did you ever stop to look at 何 itself?

何 is a pictograph of a person carrying a big load upon his shoulders. Think of his stuff as being tied to a pole, and then you might see it.

That's right, folks, 何 did not originally mean "what." It was later borrowed to have that meaning.

荷 had a different meaning as well. It originally meant "lotus," as that's a flowering plant(艸) that is borne(何) on the water.

When 何 was snatched up and used everywhere for "what," 荷 was taken back to its roots and applied to the ideas of "bearing" and "load."

(And lotus became 蓮, which is a pretty difficult kanji to remember, so many Japanese people write ハス.)


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