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Faery and Fantasy

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Stocks and Stumps




I'm working through Heisig's RTK. I sometimes get worried that learning Japanese-oriented keywords will throw off my Chinese learning. But I know that I will need to learn both anyways. And sometimes, I learn something unexpected about English etymology.


Heisig binds the kanji '株' to the keyword 'stock'. His story clarifies that he means 'stock' as in 'stock exchange'.

Now, looking in a Japanese dictionary, we see that ‘株’ can also mean 'stump' as in 'tree stump'.

Looking in a Chinese dict I find that ‘株’ only has the 'tree stump' meaning.

So how are stocks and stumps connected? When we look up 'stock' in Webster, the first sense (albeit an archaic one) is "stump". Well I'll be darned!

Now what happened here? Did the Japanese choose 株 to represent 'stock' as in 'stock exchange' because of the English etymology? Or was this an independent but parallel innovation?



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Hello. I'm also interested in word etymologies. According to webster :http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stock,

7 a archaic : a supply of capital : funds; especially : money or capital invested or available for investment or trading

I was thinking that maybe tree trunks were used in trading in the ancient days and maybe from there, stock also came to mean the money used for funds. I'm just guessing here. But for your additional info, Korean dictionary has 5 definitions for this character : 株[주 / ju]


1.) counting unit for trees

2.) stump

3.) roots

4.) shares

5.) be/get involved

I think the sense of "stock" as in stock market can be taken then from definition no. 4

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Ah, a fellow etymologist! Excellent.

As for meanings 1,2,3, they seem to be related to the radical and so I guess this is the original meaning of the character, which started life as a 諧聲.

There are two ways we could have arrived at meaning #4 and #5: 傳注 (expansion of meaning) or 假借 (borrowing of character on basis of sound but not meaning). -- I borrow those terms from Wieger, who gives a very lucid explanation of the development of the Character system in his introduction. (You can read the whole intro on Google Books, I found out).

I wasn't aware of meaning #5. I like how CEDICT adds 'in shady business', but I don't find any examples of usage of this. (Doesn't appear in ABC Comprehensive or the Guifan.) I'll keep an eye out.

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