117. The "Standing" Radical: 立

The five-stroke 立 radical and the following kanji share several things:

立 (73: to stand, be independent; erect, establish, rise; start)

Just as this character carries the Joyo kun-yomi た•つ, the 立 radical is called たつ. And just as the kanji primarily means "to stand," the English radical name is "standing" or "stand."

Henshall says in his newer edition that the shape of 立 has changed little over the years and initially depicted a standing person. The lower horizontal stroke represented the ground beneath that lone figure and emphasized the act of standing, rather than the person. 

Our radical is on duty in just five Joyo kanji, including 立 itself. Here are three more in that group:

章 (318: written passage; badge, medal, emblem)

童 (363: child)

競 (463: competition)

Originally, none of these characters included the 立 shape, according to the same source. Instead, 辛 was in the bronze form of 童 (363), says Henshall. He seems to imply that 辛 also played a role in the early life of 章 (318), though I can't quite tell. 

That brings us to a useful point. Don't think you've spotted the 立 radical in characters that actually contain these radicals:

辛 (radical 160: "bitter")

音 (radical 180: "sound")

竜 (radical 212: "big dragon")

And don't confuse 立 with this somewhat similar-looking radical:

文 (radical 67: "literature")

Photo Credit: Eve Kushner

A sign at a monkey park on Shodoshima (an island in Kagawa Prefecture on Shikoku) contains three instances of the 立 shape, but as you know, only the 立 contains our on-duty radical. It's a mere component in 位, which is classified under 亻 (9: "person"). With 意, the on-duty radical is 心 (61: "heart"), whereas 音 is a component. And 対 contains the similar-looking 文 on the left, while the 寸 (41: "inch") radical matters there. Unfortunately, the text is quite unclear in parts:

Important Notes of Caution

注意 (ちゅうい: caution);
心得 (こころえ: important point)

Don't be afraid (of the monkeys)

こわがる (怖がる: to be afraid)

Don't touch (them)

さわる (触る: to touch)

Don't look into (their eyes?)

のぞきこむ (to look into)

Act superior to them, and deal with them decisively. 

上位立ち (じょういにたち: taking a superior position); きびしい (strict); 対処 (たいしょ: dealing with)

This sounds cruel, but the idea is that monkeys pay close attention to hierarchy, and if they sense your fear, they could act violently toward you. It's safest to maintain the upper hand.

On the Left Side

When 立 occupies the left side of a kanji, the radical name たつへん applies, as is true here:

端 (1567: end; start; edge; fragment)

Note that our radical becomes skinny on the left.

Henshall says that in one view combines 立 (stand) with 耑 (plant growing). Together the two sides originally represented "upright." He calls "edge, extremity" extended senses. And he cites another theory in which the 耑 phonetically conveys "flat," yielding the overall meaning "stand with good posture."

Photo Credit: Eve Kushner

At Nihon Minkaen, an open-air architectural museum in Kawasaki City, south of Tokyo, a sign in a reconstructed house contains these words:

炉端 (ろばた: fireside)

文庫 (ぶんこ: library; book collection)

So the family kept books by the hearth. How lovely! 

I'm intrigued that even though I associate 炉端 with 炉端焼き (ろばたやき: food cooked on a grill in front of customers), it primarily involves part of a house.