126. The "And Then" Radical: 而

How wonderful it is when a kanji resembles the thing it represents. There are far too few pictographs in this world! On that score this non-Joyo character delivers:

而 (rake)

When this six-stroke shape serves as a radical, though, it doesn't mean "rake." According to Henshall in his newer edition, 而 originally depicted a "beard" in characters. 

This radical is on duty in just one Joyo kanji:

耐 (1542: to withstand; endure)

Actually, says Henshall, 而 is the phonetic in this character! As such, it contributes the associated sense "can, able" here. Does that make 寸 (which means "hold" in this case) the radical on duty? He doesn't say, telling us only that these halves combine to mean "hold up, maintain" and by extension "endure, bear."

Other sources do identify 而 as the radical in 耐. Kanjigen calls 而 both the radical and phonetic in that character.

For sure 而 is just a component in these kanji:

需 (887: demand; needs)

儒 (1352: Confucianism; scholar)

端 (1567: end; start; edge; fragment)

As you can see, 而 always maintains its shape; it has no variants.

Photo Credit: Eve Kushner

I find it satisfying to see 而 superimposed on a shape that looks somewhat like an inverted rake. This radical is in 耐熱 (たいねつ: heat-resisting) in the following phrase:

(Coffee) is visibly delicious (thanks to) the
sense of translucence of the heat-resisting glass

見える (みえる: to be visible);
透明感 (とうめいかん: sense of translucence)

How to Pronounce 而

Let's return to the non-Joyo kanji 而. It carries several kun-yomi, including しか•して and しこ•うして. These readings happen to constitute a word:

而して (しかして or しこうして: and then; thus)

Now we can see why the Japanese name of the radical is しかして or しこうして. It's also clear why the English name is "and then." Other possibilities include "and also" and, of course, "rake."