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I am currently studying kanji by using a number of sites, some of which provide mnemonics to aid in learning. While not a specific radical per se (I think), the top portions of the following characters, 恋, 変, and 湾 are often thought of as a simplification of the character for red: 赤. Thus there are mnemonics provided for kanji like those mentioned that use this idea of "red."

However, http://www.kanjinetworks.com states that the etymology of this (quasi-)radical is as follows:

䜌 (Type 1 Phonetic) is 絲 (糸 thread doubled, a character now subsumed in 糸) + 言 words (in its original sense of making verbal distinctions → distinguish) → make tangled threads distinct by stretching and untangling them.

In other words, rather than "red," it is in fact a simplification of an archaic character related to the "thread" radical, 糸.

I am interested to know if this is correct, and how native Japanese perceive or conceptualize this (quasi-)radical--as being related to 糸, 赤 or something altogether different.

For example, here is the whole entry from the site on the kanji 変 :

変 (9) ヘン か(える・わる) Formerly 變

As per 䜌 (Type 5 Phonetic) as described in 恋 (tangled) + 攵 action indicator → an attempt to untangle a volatile situation, that leads to change → unusual; unusual/wondrous event; political event; internal disturbance.

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2 Answers 2

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I'm just a student of Japanese, and I only know how I conceptualize it, not how anyone else does. So this may not be a very good answer, but I'm typing it anyway in case it's useful.

As I understand it, there are two different 亦:

  1. The original 亦
  2. 䜌 written as 亦

So, 亦 does not "come from" 䜌, but 䜌 as an element is sometimes written as 亦. Broadly, then, you can put characters containing 亦 into two categories, which tend to have different sounds. The large majority appear to be 亦-as-䜌, while 亦-as-亦 shows up in 跡 and 亦 itself, which is used to write one sense of the word また. So:

When I write 亦-as-亦, I think また.

When I write 亦-as-䜌, I think レン.

Why レン? Well, it seems to represent that sound:

  • 攣{れん} (as in the word 痙攣{けいれん})
  • 恋{れん}/ [戀]{れん}

I then draw mental arrows out from レン to what appear to be related readings:

  • ヘン, as in 変{へん}/[變]{へん}
  • ワン, as in 弯{わん}/[彎]{わん}
  • バン, as in 蛮{ばん}/[蠻]{ばん}

I know that's not an answer to your question, but I hope it's helpful anyway.

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Probably too detailed for a mnemonic device, but here's an explanation of the characters. In「恋」,「変」, and「湾」, the top (right) was indeed originally「䜌」, and functions as a phonetic component. Their Old Chinese reconstructions as given by Zhengzhang are:

  • 戀 /*b·rons/ > Middle Chinese /liuᴇnH/ > On'yomi れん
  • 變 /*prons/ > Middle Chinese /pˠiᴇnH/ > On'yomi へん
  • 灣 /*qroːn/ > Middle Chinese /ʔˠuan/ > On'yomi わん
  • 䜌 /*b·roːn/, /*b·ron/, /*b·rons/

The top (right) component mentioned is different in origins from:


The explanation of「攵」in「變」is largely correct.「攵」(variant of「攴」) depicts a hand holding a hitting implement, and in「變」it just represents motion in general, leading on to the meaning change. 「䜌」, however, just provides a sound hint.



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上博2426.31
合集27742
戰國

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燕侯載器「教」
集成10583


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{{kr: 包}}2.99「教」
 
現代

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「教」
 

Shape evolution of the「攵」component, as shown in later forms in the character「教」.「攵」is found in many characters to do with attacking/punishing; the character「教」depicts a child「子」learning arithmetic (represented by two「㐅」, original character of「五」) under threat of being beaten by「攵」. The two「㐅」and「子」later fused into「孝」. Another example is「牧」, which depicts a cow「牛」being herded by a hand with a whip「攵」.

「亦」was chosen to replace「䜌」in simplification efforts because a calligraphic cursive variant of「䜌」looked very similar to「亦」. The similarity can be seen if we look at the following two-step process. First, write the second stroke of「言」long enough to cover「絲」:

趙孟頫

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續千字文「變」
 

Then, abbreviate「絲」and the last five strokes of「言」:

文徵明

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赤壁賦「變」
 

The top now heavily resembles「亦」.

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