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.


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.


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.

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here
{{kr: 包}}2.99「教」

enter image description here

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」:


enter image description here

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


enter image description here

The top now heavily resembles「亦」.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.