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冖 + 与 = 写。how does mi and yu become xie? Mi is the cover radical and Yu means and; with; to; for; give, grant according to Pleco.

6 Answers 6

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I looked it up in the Outlier Mini Traditional Characters dictionary (OTC) in Pleco. I also checked using Wiktionary.

  1. For questions of etymology / character origin, you'll need to consider traditional characters. Here the traditional character associated with the simplified character 写 is 寫.
  2. 寫 is a phono-semantic compound. 寫 = semantic 宀 + phonetic 舄 xì
  3. OTC says that the "meaning component" 宀 "building" hints at the original meaning: "moving something from one location to another".

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E5%AF%AB

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E5%86%99

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  • Thank you. I don't see the Outlier mini as an add-on in Pleco IOS. Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 23:13
  • @RalphBacolod I have a paid-for version of Pleco on Android, maybe the free OTC is only available in the paid-for version of Pleco? I'm not sure. I'll edit my answer. Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 9:39
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There is absolutely nothing wrong with interest in etymology, I often find myself looking into such things like the source of terms. Please note that such things are often only theorized and will not help with learning the meaning of the terms themselves much (learning vs studying a language). An english equivalent would be studying why the word redo is re+do, or why the word cat is c+at. This kind of thing gets messy and confusing fast-- although interesting for sure I think :)


Per baidu, 寫 originally referred to using a brush, and was a last name, and the same as 瀉. This gives it the associated meaning of writing, or pouring out your thoughts etc. over time. It has also had many other meanings, in the past and the present.

The character itself appeared around warring states period, and is mainly based on the term dragonfly. There is no meaning shared, but the term dragonfly had similar pronunciation. Therefore it doesn't seem that the components themselves have a strong tie to the meaning of the character, at least not one that's well established.

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写 is the simplified form of the character, and simplified characters often have no relation whatsoever to etymology. (This is why Chineseteacher_Henry's answer is wrong, the simplified form has nothing to do with etymology.) The traditional form of the character is 寫, which is composed of 宀 and 舄.

宀 is the semantic part of the character, which means that it gives the character meaning. 宀 is a roof and refers to enclosures and buildings in general.

舄 (xì) is the phonetic part, which gives the character its pronunciation. Its meaning has nothing to do with the meaning of any characters it is a part of.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E5%AF%AB

https://www.zdic.net/hant/%E5%AF%AB

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Etymology can help you understand and comprehend Chinese characters, but not every character follows its etymology. Additionally, there are many simplified characters that are quite different from their traditional counterparts, making it difficult to explain them through etymology. The character you mentioned, "写" (xiě), is one such example.

When teaching this character to students, I explain that the top radical represents "house," "building," or "structure," while the bottom part looks like a person sitting on a horizontal bar. Therefore, the overall meaning of the character is a person sitting on a horizontal bar inside a house or building, writing something.

I hope this explanation helps you.

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    This does not answer the question.
    – Olle Linge
    Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 18:45
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Mate, this is a simplified character, so it is normal that you cannot understand how it works. If you really wanna learn Chinese better, you should learn traditional Chinese. See how zagracha explained.

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The meaning of writing is: "write on paper; create (literary works)". Because Chinese is a pictographic character, my understanding is: "attention" is like a piece of paper, like a header, "and" is like a line of words written on paper, combined into "writing"

写的意思是:“在纸上写作;创作(文字作品)”,因为汉语是象形字,我的理解是:“冖”像一张纸,像页眉,“与”像在纸上写的一行行文字,组合成“写”

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  • This doesn't answer the question.
    – mucube
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 21:22
  • that is ok. As a Chinese, many people also don't konw. Our first response was to explained literally。
    – chacebai
    Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 4:30

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