RADICAL NOTES

53. The "Dotted Cliff" Radical: 广

When it comes to its shape, the three-stroke 广 radical is quite straightforward. Having no variants, 广 always looks the same. 

This radical is on duty in 17 Joyo kanji, including these common ones:

広 (114: wide)
店 (178: shop)
度 (356: degrees)
府 (575: prefecture)
座 (870: seat)

Photo Credit: Eve Kushner

It seems as if someone has amplified the top two strokes of 石 (stone) to emphasize its similarity to our radical in 店. This shop is on the island of 小豆島 (しょうどしま) in the Inland Sea, and 西山 (にしやま) is the name of a business that supplies and shapes stones there.

Photo Credit: Eve Kushner

The script for the name of a theater is quite playful, in that the 座 looks like a person's face! It's hard to read the sign, but it says 松竹座 (しょうちくざ). The Japanese use -座 (-ざ) as a suffix in theater names. By the way, 松竹 is the name of a movie company.

The "Dotted Cliff" Radical Versus Similar Radicals

In English, our radical is called the "dotted cliff" radical or the "trailing ma" radical, and in Japanese it's まだれ (which we'll use) or てんいちだれ. These four names make no sense in isolation. To understand them, we need to examine other radicals.

Our radical never actually means "cliff" in any kanji. Instead, the English name alludes to this look-alike radical, which really does symbolize "cliff":

厂 (radical 27: cliff), read as がんだれ (雁垂れ)

Whereas 厂 has no dot on top, 广 does, so our radical is a "dotted cliff."

The non-Joyo 雁 (ガン) means "wild goose" and includes a 厂, so 雁 is in that radical name as a prime example of the 厂 radical.

The 垂 (だれ: to sag) refers to the position of the radical. As I explain in Radical Terms (see "Radical Positions" and look at the last section), 垂 enclosures go down the lower left and across the top of a kanji.

That's true of 广, so we see だれ in both of its Japanese names, まだれ and てんいちだれ.

The ま in まだれ comes from 麻 (マ), which includes 广 in a sense. Some people therefore refer to our radical as a "trailing ma." Unlike 雁, though, 麻 doesn't truly feature the 广 radical because 麻 itself is a radical:

麻 (radical 200: hemp), read not as ま but primarily as あさ

The second Japanese name of 广 is てんいちだれ, which refers to this radical:

亠 (radical 8: lid), read as てんいち

And to understand てんいち, we need to look to two more radicals! I'm talking about these:

丶 (radical 3: dot), read as てん

一 (radical 1: one), read as いち

Radical 8 looks like a combination of the two, so it goes by てんいち. And to bring things back around to 广, we can now see why it's called てんいちだれ, "trailing radical 8."

We find a similar shape with this radical:

疒 (radical 104: sickness), read as やまいだれ

However, that radical doesn't affect the nomenclature of ours, so we don't need to think about it too hard!

Photo Credit: Eve Kushner

A short sign contains two instances of our radical! We see it at the end of each word:

羽床 (はゆか: a surname)
総本店 (そうほんてん: head office)

Primarily, 床 (1389) means "bed."

The Roofs and Buildings in Certain Kanji

Although 广 doesn't represent any kind of cliff, it does have meaning. This radical symbolizes a "building," sometimes a "large building," and rarely a "roof," as you can see in various etymologies from Henshall:

庫 (275: storage space)

This character combines "large building" with "vehicle" (車). Some scholars say that 庫 once literally represented a "large building for housing vehicles," especially war chariots. Other researchers see 車 as indicating the goods carried on a cart. In that case, 庫 represents "large building for a cartload of goods," which is to say "storehouse."

庭 (352: yard, garden; home; courtyard)

Again our radical means "large building" here, whereas 延 means "court." In this context, 延 literally means "people standing around at court." As Henshall explains (apparently referring to palaces and courts of the past), "People generally did their waiting at the palace/court in the courtyard or garden."

底 (549: bottom; basis)

Whereas 广 means "building" here, the interior of 底 means "bottom of a hill." Thus, 底 represents "building at bottom of hill," later coming to mean "bottom" or "base" in general.

序 (710: order)

This 广 stands for "building," and the 予 represents "already" or "in advance." The whole character means "that which one does in advance of (erecting) a building"—namely, laying foundations. Therefore, 序 means "the beginning" of something and by extension "(proper) order."

廃 (1687: to abolish; stop using; waste)

The 广 is "building," and the part inside means "to discharge" or "to leave," acting phonetically here to express "abandon(ed)" and "to leave." Thus, the whole character represents "abandoned building," which came to mean "abandoned" or "obsolete" in general. 

(1938: corridor; gallery)

The 广 represents "roof" in this case. Meanwhile, the 郎 (which usually means "man" or "husband") acts phonetically here to express "space." Originally, says Henshall, 廊 represented the "space under the overhang of a roof," which is to say "veranda" or "walkway." By association, the character later came to mean "corridor." 

Photo Credit: Christopher Acheson

The photographer has practically put the spotlight on our radical! It appears here in 底 (549). Meanwhile, トビラ corresponds to 扉 (door), and 開 (かい or ひらく in this case) means "open." So the sign tells us that the bottom door is open.

Our radical pops up in 廊 (1938), which means "gallery" here.

First, a word about the author, 澁澤龍彦 (しぶさわ   たつひこ: 1928–1987), who didn't have a single Joyo kanji in his name! I don't think I've encountered that situation before! A Wikipedia article in English identifies him as a novelist, art critic, and translator of French literature who wrote a lot of fiction based on French literature and Japanese classics. A surrealist, he was drawn to the works of Andre Breton and the Marquis de Sade, apparently inspiring his own essays about black magic, medieval demonology, and eroticism. These are popular in Japan, but his translation of a work by Sade led Shibusawa to be prosecuted and fined for public obscenity. He was friends with author Yukio Mishima, who based one character in his novel The Temple of Dawn on Shibusawa's personality.

The book of essays shown above constitutes an imaginary gallery. The author takes you to various exhibitions, including a fin-de-siecle gallery of work by writers and artists from both the East and the West, as well as an "imaginaria" that includes unusual art from Japan and the West. The overriding theme of the imaginary gallery is "fantastic art," which Wikipedia describes as portraying "non-realistic, mystical, mythical or folkloric subjects."

Now we can understand the title:

「世紀末画廊」
Fin-de-Siecle Art Gallery

世紀末 (せいきまつ: end of a century (esp. the 19th); fin-de-siecle); 画廊 (がろう: gallery)

Advertisements