Why is the kanji for karasu (烏) in the kanji for squid (鰞)?

kr0ed

New Member
Norwegian
I am following an account on twitter explaining Japanes phrases, origin of kanji etc, and they wrote a post about the difference between tori (鳥) and karasu (烏). One of the comments was: "can you explain why the same kanji is in the kanji for squid (鰞)?", and it has been bugging me since. I can't seem to find any info on it googling etc. Does anyone know why?
 
  • wushi

    Member
    Japanese
    Good day.
    We write squid in Japanese as either 烏賊 or 鰞, the former being more common.
    The reason why 烏(karasu) is included in its kanji form is explained in the URL below.

    烏(からす)がつく理由が怖い!「烏賊(いか)」の漢字の由来と意味とは? - macaroni

    The etymology comes from an old Chinese book, Nan-etsu-shi(南越志), which has the following plot.
    One day a crow (烏) swooped toward a floating squid to eat it.
    The squid first pretended dead, but then it suddenly seized and ate up the crow.

    As 賊 in 烏賊 means a bandit, it makes sense 賊 exploits 烏.
    鰞 is simpler, as a squid may be considered as or related to 魚(fish),
    even though most Japanese would be perplexed if they were asked whether a squid falls in the fish category.
     

    kr0ed

    New Member
    Norwegian
    Good day.
    We write squid in Japanese as either 烏賊 or 鰞, the former being more common.
    The reason why 烏(karasu) is included in its kanji form is explained in the URL below.

    烏(からす)がつく理由が怖い!「烏賊(いか)」の漢字の由来と意味とは? - macaroni

    The etymology comes from an old Chinese book, Nan-etsu-shi(南越志), which has the following plot.
    One day a crow (烏) swooped toward a floating squid to eat it.
    The squid first pretended dead, but then it suddenly seized and ate up the crow.

    As 賊 in 烏賊 means a bandit, it makes sense 賊 exploits 烏.
    鰞 is simpler, as a squid may be considered as or related to 魚(fish),
    even though most Japanese would be perplexed if they were asked whether a squid falls in the fish category.

    This is awesome, i love kanji etymologhy :D
    Thank you :)
     

    Joschl

    Member
    Japanese
    kr0ed said:
    So it is there only because of reading and not necessarily meaning?
    Even when we encounter characters whose semantic component and phonetic component are recognizable, we always need to see them as units because both the phonetic and semantic components of characters usually give us only vague hints about the meaning and pronunciation of those words, i.e. "character XY is related semantically to X and sounds like Y".
    If you want to know how Chinese script works, I would warmly recommend dealing with logographic writing systems in general because they generally work in the same way.
     

    Flaminius

    hedomodo
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    But don't use 鰞 alone for squid, though. To the best of my knowledge, the word for squid in Classical Chinese is either 鰞鰂 or 烏賊. According to a pre-modern Chinese dictionary, the latter character is interchangeable with 鯽, 鱡, and 賊. This would mean that the ancient Chinese word for squid was something like "usoku" when given a Sino-Japanese pronunciation. Simply put, 鰞鰂 is just one of various attempts at committing the word in writing. In view of this, the account in 南越 seems like a folk etymology.

    And even 鰞鰂 is not a common script representation of the Japanese word ika. Use 烏賊 or spell it out as イカ.
     
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