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I find myself fascinated by the character

in the word 蹦极 (meaning "bungee jumping"). It combines:

  • the radical (meaning "foot"), in the character meaning "jump";
  • the radical meaning "mountain"; and
  • the character meaning "friends", as in 朋友.

It's as if the character was deliberately designed to resemble friends jumping from a mountain. I'm hoping this thought can be verified or contradicted.

Question: Was the character 蹦 (in 蹦极 "bungee jumping") designed to look like people bungee jumping?

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  • "bungee jumping" is transliterated as "笨豬跳" cantonese.sheik.co.uk/dictionary/words/43239 in Cantonese. And I think it is the best name for this 'sport'
    – Tang Ho
    Sep 28, 2019 at 6:50
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    蹦極 is a very nice transliteration, as it literally means jump extreme.
    – dROOOze
    Sep 28, 2019 at 6:53
  • @ droooze Yeah, but it is not as funny as the Cantonese transliteration
    – Tang Ho
    Sep 28, 2019 at 6:55

1 Answer 1

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That's a cute mnemonic, but not how characters work.

  • 「蹦」does not specifically mean bungee jumping, it just means hopping/jumping/skipping, e.g. 蹦蹦跳跳 (skippity-skip).
  • Identify clearly what each component does in a character, and don't recursively decompose characters.「蹦」only contains two components:
    • Semantic component「足」(foot > actions to do with feet/legs)
    • Phonetic component「崩」bēng
      • Don't recursively decompose this into「山」and「朋」! These don't contribute anything direct to「蹦」.
      • 「崩」bēng doesn't contribute anything apart from sound. If you must know the composition of「崩」, its meaning is to collapse, metaphorically hinted with「山」(a mountain collapsing), and its phonetic part is「朋」péng.

Sadly, there are no friends and no mountains, but happily no collapsing in「蹦」. Stay safe!

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