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P Goldsbury
13th November 2001, 11:24
In the Member's Lounge there is a thread on Bad Budo, but some of the posts are not relevant to this theme.

Like Toby Threadgill, I have no interest in a 'philosophical' discussion whether BU is radicallly altered by being a GEI, a JUTSU, or a DO. But I do have some interest in the linguistics of Japanese and, by extension, Chinese.

Ubaldo (aka. Yamantaka) recently sent me the contents of another thread in this forum and asked about the meaning of BU.

I have been consulting a few dictionaries concerning the meaning of BU and it seems that there is no unanimity in the explanation among Japanese editors.

I start with the Kodansha Shin Daijiten, the latest edition of which was published in 199. On Page 1272 of this dictionary, there is a diagram of the ‘shoten’ (lesser seal) version of the character, with a jigen (explanation of the origin of the character). I have given the Japanese explanation below in Romaji, followed by a translation.

Kaii. Hoko to shi no gouji. Hongi ha, jinkun ga kanka no iryoku ni yotte heiran wo mihatsu ni todomeru gi. Tenjite, iryoku/ yuuki mata ha bun ni taishite heiji ni kansuru koto ni iu.

Rough Translation:
Combined meaning, i..e., the meaning arises from a combination of characters (one of six categories established in the later Han Dynasty). A character combined from ‘halberd’ and ‘shi’ (= stop). The central meaning is: a ruler stops war (conflict) before it happens by means of the power of weapons (halberds & shields). Transferred meaning: force, courage, military matters in opposition to learning / letters.

(Sakeda Ichiro et al., Kodansha Shin Daijiten, 1993)

More recently I came across another dictionary with a different explanation. This is a newer work, the Kadokawa Gendai Kanjigo Jiten, edited by Atsuji Tetsuji, Kamatani Takeshi, Rinbara Sumio and published by Kadokawa Shoten in January, 2001. Here is the relevant section from the Jigen Spotto (Spotlight on Origins) on p. 1279.

Kaii. Shi (hito no ashiato) to [hoko] (hoko /buki) to karanari, buki wo motte shingun surukoto wo arawasu. Moto ha [sensou] no i. Hiite [yuuki] no imi ni tukawareru. Furuku ha [hoko] (buki no shiyou) wo [to]meru noga sin-no [bu] (yuuki) de aru, to suru setu ga atta ga,[shi] no imi wo torichigaeta ayamari de aru.

Rough Translation:
Combined meaning. Combining ‘shi’ (= a person’s footprints) and halberd (sc, weapons), (it means) the making of a military advance with weapons. Earlier, it had the meaning of war, and by transference was also used to mean ‘courage’. Formerly (furuku), the true meaning of the character BU (courage) was explained as stopping the use of spears (= weapons), but this meaning rests on an erroneous interpretation of ‘shi’.

To my mind, Atsuji’s explanation is somewhat different from Sakeda’s. Incidentally, a colleague of mine who is Chinese and teaches Chinese linguistics here agreed with Atsuji’s explanation in preference to Sakeda's.

The meaning of stopping conflict (before it starts) with spears & shields (i.e., weapons) perhaps rests on an earlier, and bloodier, meaning of putting an end to conflict by means of weapons.

Finally, perhaps we should bear in mind a remark made by Roy Andrew Miller in Nihongo: In Defence of Japanese. In Japanese school textbooks and dictionaries, characters are broken down into their component 'radicals' as an aid to remembering them. Thus, MEI (bright), is 'made up' of two radicals meaning sun and moon, respectively. As an explanation of the character's origin, however, this is quite mistaken and Miller discusses the matter in Chapter 1, The Language and the Script, especially on p.36 (with footnote).

Any comments, opinions? For those who would like the original Japanese of the stuff written in Romaji above, I can send an attached file in Word.

Best regards,

Peter Goldsbury,
______________
P A Goldsbury,
Graduate School of Social Sciences,
Hiroshima University

P Goldsbury
13th November 2001, 11:27
Something odd happened and the post has multiplied itself. I appear not to have permission to delete the second post. Ah. Eveything is OK.

PAG,
______________
P A Goldsbury,
Graduate School of Social Sciences,
Hiroshima University