-2

I don't understand how 隹 relates to definitions A-C below.

Definition A.1. Are short-tailed birds standard in China? I'm no ornithologist.

Definition A.2. Again, I don't deal with birds. I'm indifferent to them. Short-tailed birds don't look elegant to me. Did the Chinese think they are elegant?

Definition C. Are short-tailed birds unusual in China?

enter image description here

Above is Yellowbridge. Below is Oxford Chinese Dictionary (2010) p 857.

enter image description here

0

The most common meaning given to 雅 is "elegant". I don't know how and why 牙 (teeth) was added to 隹 (short-tailed bird) to form the word but can relate the "short-tailed bird to "elegant".

Most of the Chinese are familiar with two of the short-tailed birds that populated the wild in China - "Crow (烏鴉)" and "Martin (燕子)". The Crow is not really a likable bird, but the Martins are loved by almost everybody. If you are familiar with Chinese literature, there is definitely no shortage of mentionings.

Note that 雅 implies "small", such as "雅緻", "雅舍", which fits the body size of a Martin.

Below are few photos of the "Purple/Blue Martin":

enter image description hereenter image description here enter image description here

0

雅 and 鸦 are most likely the same in olden times with 雅 being the variant form for 鸦 meaning crow. It's current meanings are probably borrowed when 鸦 became the standard character for crow, and all the current meanings for 雅 no longer have anything to do with birds.

https://www.zdic.net/hans/%E9%9B%85

2
  • I don't think you answered my question. "all the current meanings for 雅 no longer have anything to do with birds" . I know. But what happened? Why's 隹 the Semantic Component for 雅? Can you expound the semantic shift please?
    – Coosf
    Apr 11 at 20:45
  • Languages and definitions evolve over time. 雅 is simply a phonetic loan character for 'standard' or 'elegance'. Not all meaning shifts can be reasonably explained. Many other characters with meaning shifts have no link to their original semantic component. 难/難 is another character with nothing to do with birds, just that the meaning shifted over time.
    – Fishuman
    Apr 12 at 4:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.