Just learnt a few verbs which use 乘 and 承 and was thinking that, not only do they look and sound mighty similar, but their ultimate meanings are both related to 'transfering' something. 乘 with vehicles from one place to another and 承 with transferring responsibility (承担) or transferring guilt (承认). Anyone know if they stem from the same root? If so, how did they come to be different? Hashamyim
「乘」and「承」do indeed sound similar, but an etymological relation (if any) would be before the time of Old Chinese. They are unrelated, as far as usage or glyph origins is concerned.
「乘」was originally a picture of a person「大」climbing on top of a tree「木」; feet「舛」were added on to the person later (Shape #2 onwards).
The original meanings were to ascend, to ride an object, extended to mean to take advantage of [a situation]. It does not mean to transfer, which is a coincidence due to its meaning of ride.
「承」was originally a picture of two hands「𠂇」and「又」holding up a kneeling person「卩」. The kneeling person's legs were straightened (Shape #2), then replaced with another hand「手」to emphasise the meaning of holding up, leaving behind a small shape representing the rest of the person (Shape #3 onwards).
The original meaning was to hold up, extended to mean to carry responsibility > to inherit, carry on, continue. To transfer may give a wrong impression if used incorrectly; it is only related in the sense of to inherit, carry on, continue.