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I found an interesting question posted on Reddit's /r/ChineseLanguage: If 你 is 亻(人) + 尔 , but 尔’s tradicional version is 爾 , shouldn’t 你’s traditional version be 儞 ?? I don't know the answer so I thought I'd re-ask it here. Some answers given there were:

  • marktwainbrain: According to Pleco, 儞 does exist and it is an old variant of 你.
  • catoncurtain: Well actually you are right,
  • CosmicBioHazard: basically 儞 simplified down to 你 ages and ages before "simplified Chinese" was introduced.

I'm not sure if any of these are correct, although CosmicBioHazard's answer seems reasonable. The Pleco entry is actually the CC-CEDICT entry:

儞 儞 [ni3] /old variant of 你[ni3]/

Question: Why is the traditional character for 你 also 你 and not 儞 when the traditional character for 尔 is 爾?

Edit: It was brought to my attention that Quora has a similar question: Why do all of the Traditional Chinese standards use 你 (with the Simplified 尔) but keep 爾? likely posted recently (prior to this question). I was not aware of this at the time of writing this question.

  • 康熙字典 had no entry for 儞 but 伱 while explained "伱...俗書作你". I doubt whether 儞 had been actually used in ancient publications or handwritten scripts or inscriptions etc. If anyone finds any source for ancient 儞 in actual use, please leave the source here. Thanks! – Stan Jul 12 at 6:44
  • What's interesting. According to 康熙字典, 伱's origin glyph was but not 儞, and there was a seal script to justify it from 傳抄古文字 海3.4. – Stan Jul 12 at 6:54
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    @Stan 儞 is recorded to have occurred on 戰國 燕 potteryware as someone's name (kind of; it had an extra phonetic 厶 on the top right), as the name of the craftsman (高明 古陶文彙編 4.47). I don't think I can get a hold of this reference unfortunately, but what you should see is a mark which says 右宮儞 (see bjwb.bjd.com.cn/images/2020-05/28/23/23.pdf for what 右宮X means) – dROOOze Jul 12 at 8:07
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    Regardless, the character 儞 was very uncommon, you can treat its appearance later as an unorthodox innovation. In order of innovation, the character representing a word meaning you is probably something like 爾 > 尔 > 你 > 儞. The Warring States 儞, I would treat as unrelated for now. – dROOOze Jul 12 at 8:11
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    eh, an interesting question, but somewhat silly, because the simplified characters are based on the traditional and not vice-versa – 小奥利奥 Jul 12 at 19:34
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in the book 類篇 卷二十二 (page 87 of the liked pdf), there was an entry:

伲儞你乃倚切汝也或作儞你你又乃里切文三重音一

that, 伲 儞 你 ・[these three characters are pronounced as] 乃倚切・[have the meaning of] 汝 (you)

the book “類篇” is edited between 1039-1066, in 宋 dynasty.

i would say that 儞 / 你 existed in the past, just not commonly used as 汝

have fun :)

enter image description here

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  • I've been aware of this but I can't really find an example for the use of 儞 other than in a dictionary :( – Stan Jul 12 at 8:44
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    @stan, search the kanripo.org, they’re occurrences that 儞 used as name :) – 水巷孑蠻 Jul 12 at 8:47
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古同“你”

「你 」的異體字

儞 is an archaic classical term that had been replaced by 你 in traditional character. ("long before simplified Chinese" was introduced." as one of your reference stated).

In other words, when they started simplifying traditional characters, the character 儞 did not exist in modern Chinese. It had been simplified to 你, and the simplified 儞 --> 你 had replaced 儞 and become the standard traditional character for 'you'

爾, on the other hand, is still being used in modern Chinese.

Since 尔 had already been used to simplify 爾, it was not used to simplify 你

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