NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

2008/8/4

【独(獨)】 Doku, Hitori Alone

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The original character is 獨. 蜀 means a male animal. 虫 does not show an insect but the male genitals. As the male animal often separates from the herd, from this behavior of separation and acting alone resolutely and independently, it got the meaning ‘hitori: alone.’ The 犭 animal classifier was added later in the Tenbun (Zhuàn Wén) seal, after basic Chinese characters had been formed already in the Yīn (Shāng) and the Zhōu dynasty.
The works of Dr. Shirakawa also teach that in the realm of usage of Chinese characters since the period of the Yīn (Shāng) dynasty, the animal classifier was used as an expression of contempt and discrimination regarding other peoples or countries.
In Japan, before a unified German state came into existence, in the time leading to the opening of the country during the final years of the Tokugawa period, the characters 独逸 (abbreviated 独) were used for the German speaking people although the reading ‘doku’ does not fit the pronunciation at all. Early documents show that in 度逸 or 都逸, 度 and 都 were alternative characters also read ‘doitsu’ in combination with 逸, but the above version still is in use since 150 years. Regarding countries, however, the use of the animal classifier probably is not appropriate. Dr. Shirakawa has explained this as the ‘Superior Country In The Middle Ideology of the Japanese’ (‘Superior Country In The Middle Ideology’ is a term for the nationalist thought that China is situated in the middle of the world, its culture being superior to others). In the captions of his dictionaries for this character as well as comparable characters used for other countries, there generally is no recognition of such a usage for country names.

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Editoral supervision: Dr. Christoph Schmitz, Researcher of Shirakawa Kanji Science, General and Japanese History of Philosophy and Thought
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