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詞類 英文意義
adv. but, yet, still, however; while
v. reject, decline, withdraw; retreat, step back

http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/lexi-mf/search.php?word=%E5%8D%BB writes that 卻's semantic component is . 卩 is "a person assuming a kneeling posture (arch.)".

But how is "kneeling" related to "reject, decline, withdraw; retreat, step back"? If I was a soldier retreating from a human wave attack or calvary charge, then I definitely wouldn't be "kneeling"! I'd be running and facing AWAY from the enemy! This is the first puzzle.

The second puzzle is knottier. Where does the meaning of "but, yet, still, however; while" stem from? How is "but, yet, still, however; while" related to kneeling??? Notice the different 詞類!

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3 Answers 3

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Words such as 卻 have an ancient origin, providing three thousand or more years for meanings to shift and the grammar to change. On a similar time scale, the English words "deem" and "doom" and "the suffix "-dom" in "wisdom," "boredom," and "kingdom" were closely related in meaning and stemmed from an Indo-European root *dʰeh₁- still represented in the verb "to do."

As far as we can trace back, 卻 seems to have originally meant "to repel, to subdue." The component卩 seems to suggest forcing an enemy to kneel and so helped to indicate the semantics. With a change in valency, the word meant "to be repelled/driven back or to retreat." From there, the meaning seems to have shifted to "to refuse/reject/decline." From there, the meaning was extended to "however/yet/but" since one option or statement of facts is "rejected" for a different one.

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Just speculation on my part, I have no proof:

Maybe work backwards from but?

The basic meaning of but is: "outside of that, outside"

but is from Old English butan, buton, which basically means "outside".

buiten is used in Dutch and buten is used Plattdeutsch (Low German) today with exactly that meaning: outside

𧮫 jué looks a lot like 谷 gǔ but apparently they are not one and the same.

Even today, people will kneel before a potentate. If the enemy army, in those ancient times, forced your surrender, they may not just slaughter everyone.

Pledge allegiance 卩 jié to the new lord and you may go: go-variant 去𧮫 jué.

When you are gone, you are "buten" (Ik ga na buten, I'm going outside.) and you are "still" alive!

A nice quote about but:

Som man preiseth his neighebore by a wikked entente, foralwey he maketh a 'but' at the laste ende, that is digne of moore blame than worth is al the preisynge. [Chaucer, "Parson's Tale"]

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  • thank you. upvoted you. You could improve your answer, if you cited as much of your answer as possible? I found your Chaucer quotation on Etymonline, which suggests you used Etymonline too?
    – user11787
    Jul 13, 2022 at 2:53
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部首 意義
關節之「節」的初文

「節」的初文

therefore, it is not about the kneeling posture

English explanation: the meaning is 'restrain'

從「卩」,「口」聲,表示使之退

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