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is an ancient character that has roots in an oracle bone pictogram, but according to this, the rice radical was added in the Tang dynasty to form 氣.

What were the reasons for this? What does 气, meaning gas, air or life force, have to do with rice?

Note: this question is not about traditional vs simplified.

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You can see the 说文解字 tab on that page. –  Stan Oct 2 '13 at 10:29
    
Ha ha, @Stan the mighty sometimes make mistake :D Your reference treats 氣 as different meaning as modern 气. There's some merging story behind. See my answer later. –  congliu Oct 2 '13 at 15:58
    
@congliu actually I was conscious of that. I didn't put it as an answer because I didn't know when 餼(饩) and 氣(气) were merged XD –  Stan Oct 3 '13 at 1:47
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

說文解字 has both references for and .

Put simply, 气 and 氣 comes from different origin and somehow merge together into one stream later.

In detail: 米 is not added to 气 to get 氣 in Tang Dynasty. Long time ago, 氣 appears in the form of Bronze inscription, though different meaning as 气. 氣 is originally designed to mean the "air generated from digesting food". While 气 is originally designed to mean the physical gas. In the reference of 氣, "饋客芻米也" means "氣 is a verb, showing the action of giving guest fodder (芻, chu2) and rice (米) as gift." 饋 (kui4) is "to give someone gift". 氣 with this meaning later becomes to clarify the action relating to food.

So nowadays, in Taiwan, 氣為餼之異體 (氣 is another non-standard variant of 餼). Also, according the 教育部異體字字典 气為氣之異體 (气 is another non-standard variant of 氣). In China mainland, 氣 is replaced by 气 as standard.

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In my opinion,the rice is a kind of food. If someone don't eat anything,he will dead,and no longer breath. So, if no food,then no breath. My english is not good. Hope to help you .

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Welcome to Chinese SE. This question is seeking evidence/facts for why the radical was added, and not an opinion. Please provide some sort of research to back up your claim. Thank you. –  Growler Oct 2 '13 at 19:46
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