Sedge, hieroglyphic and Japanese

I came across hieroglyphic writing for ‘sedge’, while I had just learned the kanji for the same word in Japanese (different in Chinese I suspect).

image of hieroglyphic sign and Japanese character

The reference is here. It says that in hieroglyphic writing, the sign for the sedge plant functions as a triliteral (three consonants), used to write ‘king’. The Japanese is very different, since it loaned the character 菅 from Chinese. It points to the Japanese word suge, which is unrelated to the Chinese word that 菅 was used to write (both pronunciation and meaning are different). In Chinese the element 官 hints that the word 菅 points to is pronounced guan, obviously no relation to suge. However, the semantic element (determinative) 艹 on top hints that 菅 might refer to some plant. 艹 is an abbreviation for 艸, ‘grass’, which in its abbreviated form tells the reader that the word which is being pointed to might be some plant or herb. That hint still works. Further, a really smart reader may be able to guess that 官 might have some semantic relation to 管 (官 as an abbreviation of 管). 管 kuda means ‘pipe; tube’, and sedge is a tube like grass. Still, in Japanese 菅 is for most people probably hardly more than a sign that you simply have to memorize.

In hieroglyphic, the sign for sedge gives the reader the three consonants of the word ‘king’ (in this context). (The readers of Classical Egyptian had of course to supply the vowels themselves, but that seems to have been a minor thing if Classical Egyptian was your mother tongue.) However, for its original meaning of ‘sedge’ the sign depends on its pictographic nature (depicting the plant in question). Insofar the sign did not clearly enough identify sedge, it was also somewhat arbitrary (it did clearly show a plant; also, it may have been one of the basic building blocks of the phonetic part of hieroglyphics, which I don’t know).

If you’d like a font to display hieroglyphic 󳼽 then you’re in luck, because a free font exists here:

For its index, try following one of the links below (you may have to tell your browser to display the text as utf-8):