5

The glyph origin section of https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E5%9C%B0 shows characters that look nothing like the modern "地" (with the exception of the "Small Seal Script" in "Shuowen Jiezi"): enter image description here

I am wondering if someone can interpret/break-down the components of these historical glyphs (what is the radical on the left? I see many characters have "土" in the bottom, but I do not know that the stuff on top of the "土" is), and explain when and how the modern character arose.

I did look at Glyph origin of 也, but would like to know more about the characters in the image above.

8

「地」 (Baxter-Sagart OC: /*[l]ˤej-s/, ground) is comprised of semantic 「土」 (picture of a lump of dirt) and phonetic 「也」 (/*lAjʔ/). This structure is found relatively late, derived from a graphical corruption of Qín Dynasty forms which used the highly similar sound component 「它」 (/*l̥ˤaj/).



地
封診式65
睡虎地秦簡
西漢

地
相馬經20下
馬王堆帛書

隸定
坨

 



地
土部
說文解字
東漢

地
白石神君碑
 


地

 

Note carefully that the forms above are strictly to be interpreted as 「地」, not what we now read as 「坨」, which is a different character (i.e. represents a different word).

The reproduction of that table on Wiktionary is as follows, with component-wise regular script transcription:

時期
字體
字形|隸定 參考資料
西周

墬 㝬簋
集成4317
戰國
⿻𡏇又 󱩃𧊒壺
集成9734
戰國・
⿱陀土 2.6
楚帛乙篇
墬 土部・籀文
說文解字
地 土部
說文解字


墬
 

墬
 

This is the shape that the Shuōwén's Shizhoupian script refers to. It is an old form of 「地」 only in the sense that Shuōwén considers it to be so; when reading the actual inscription that this character is found on, the word or morpheme that it represents is now written as 「施」 (Mandarin Pinyin: , to reach, to extend). From the Late Western Zhou inscription 㝬簋《殷周金文集成》4317:

㝬簋

王曰:「有余隹(雖)小子,余亡㝩(康)晝夜,巠(經)【⿻𩀢攴】(雝)先王,用配皇天。簧(黃>光)黹朕心,墬(施)于亖(四)方。【⿰㣇聿】(肆)余㠯(以)【⿰食⿱匕矢】(義)士獻民,爯盩(調)先王宗室。」

。。。。。。

The king said: "Even though I am but a lowly fellow, I tirelessly uphold the principles of the former sovereigns from dawn till dusk, in accordance with the will of Heaven. Heaven fills my heart with glory, and its light extends everywhere, far and wide. Thus, I work with my virtuous men to harmoniously bring about the establishments of my royal ancestors."

...

Then, even if we do consider this character to be a variation on 「地」, it is still strictly a rebus borrowing in this occurrence. 「彖」 (/*l̥ˤo[r]-s/) here possibly acts directly as a phonetic hint, or may be a glyph derivative of 「豕」 (/*l̥ajʔ/) as the original phonetic hint.



⿻𡏇又
 

Characters in this series were prolific in the late Spring and Autumn and during the Warring States period. For example,

  • 戰國・晉
    玉片
    ⿰阝豕
    侯馬盟書
     

    隸定
    ⿰阝豕

     
  • 戰國・
    陶文
    𡏇
    3.641
    古陶文彙編

    隸定
    𡏇

     
  • 戰國・楚

    𡏇
    忠信之道5
    郭店竹簡

    隸定
    𡏇

     

The key components here are semantic 「阜・𨸏・阝」 (picture of a row of hills) and phonetic 「豕」 (/*l̥ajʔ/). An additional semantic 「土」 eventually was added permanently, but other components like 「又」, 「止」, etc. were non crucial and didn't stick around.

Unlike 「墬」, characters in this series could be concretely read as 「地」 (ground, earth). From the Warring States inscription 󱩃𧊒壺《殷周金文集成》9734:

󱩃𧊒壺

。。。。。。

先王之㥁(德),弗可【⿺辵⿱复口】(復)【⿱目又】(得)。【⿱雨𣏟】(潸潸)流【⿱雨⿰米弟】(涕),不𢽤(敢)寧處。敬命新【⿻𡏇又】(地),雨(𩁹)祠先王,【⿰歺𠀍】(世)母(毋)【⿰立⿱山㔾】(犯),㠯追庸先王之工(功)剌(烈)。子,母又(有)不敬,惥(寅)𤲥(祗)承祀。

...

The virtues of the former sovereigns cannot be regotten; tearfully, I am fearful of residing peacefully. In our new lands, performing the rites to the royal ancestors, generations upon generations without fail, we pursue the achievements of the former sovereigns. My sons and grandsons are to be without irreverence, and to carry on and uphold the rites with veneration.



⿱陀土
 

This series of characters uses the alternative sound component 「它」 (/*l̥ˤaj/), and was also frequently found with the omission of 「阜・𨸏・阝」.

戰國・楚

坨
149
包山竹簡


地
封診式65
睡虎地秦簡
西漢

地
相馬經20下
馬王堆帛書

隸定
坨

 

As mentioned at the beginning, the ancestor of the modern 「地」 is from graphical corruption of the 「它」 component into 「也」. As part of other characters, 「它」 and 「也」 became graphically mixed up some time during the Hàn period.[ref][ref]


This thing



 

does not seem to be found in excavated texts, at least with an interpretation of 「地」. I believe that the intended regular script transcription is supposed to be 「埅」, but the lack of excavation records makes it difficult to trace character usage.

But boy, does that top-right component look like 「犬」.


References:

10
  • 1
    In your answer chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/17063/…, you said that「也」("to wail or cry") was later written as「嗁」and now written as「啼」, and then you highlighted "Please take note of the phonetic component of「嗁」;「遞」and「地」are homonyms in Mandarin, and the latter uses「也」as a phonetic component." So somehow there seems to be a strong relationship between「也」and some sound of "di", yet the reconstructed pronunciations「也」 (/*lAjʔ/) and「豕」 (/*l̥ajʔ/) and 「它」 (/*l̥ˤaj/) seem nothing related to "di". Is there any information as to how this sound change occured?
    – D.R
    Aug 1 at 1:09
  • 1
    Posted linguistics.SE question: linguistics.stackexchange.com/questions/41625/…
    – D.R
    Aug 1 at 3:14
  • 1
    Do you think the corruption occurred because the two characters sounded very similar in the past, or looked very similar?
    – D.R
    Aug 1 at 8:40
  • 1
    @D.R The reason for graphical corruption is always due to graphical similarity; such similarities simply increase the chance of scribal error. Other factors, like phonetic or semantic similarity compared with the original component, may hasten the changed component's acceptance and proliferation among the literati, but won't be the primary cause. There are a bunch of corrupted components in the modern script which have no relations (that is, neither semantic nor phonetic) to the original component.
    – dROOOze
    Aug 1 at 8:50
  • 1
    @D.R The state of this academic field will have us accept that we won't be able to find excavated texts which record the original meaning of every character, for the simple reason that bamboo records from the Shang-Zhou period have long since rotted away. 萬, for example, is a picture of a scorpion, but you probably won't ever find this character being used for the meaning scorpion - mostly you'll see the character taking on the meaning ten thousand, with the original word that this character represented being now written as 蠆.
    – dROOOze
    Aug 1 at 10:32
6

The first two (and the "Shizhoupian script" one) are in the 隶定 (transcription in modern type of characters component by component) , and this character (墬) was now considered as ancient form of 地. As for it's left radical, is 阝 (阜), means something related to hill.

The third one can be transcribed as 𫭩 (U+2BB69), and the radical 阝 was omitted soon after, so we have 地 in stead.

In 墬 and 地, the 彖 (*l̥ʰjelʔ) and 也 (*laːlʔ) were just phonetic components.

From 李学勤: 字源, 2012

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