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26 votes
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Is there any relation between the Cyrillic Ш (sha) and the Chinese 山 (shān)?

No. The Cyrillic script is based on the Greek script, and some other local scripts like Hebrew. The basis for sha is thought to be the Hebrew letter ש (shin). ש It's unlikely that shin is based on ...
KWeiss's user avatar
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19 votes
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"Baby" vs "宝贝" - coincidence?

Interesting, but this is a coincidence. Baby comes from a reduplicated Proto-Germanic root *bō-, which is cognate to English boy, appended with a diminutive suffix -y. 寶貝 comes from the meaning rare/...
dROOOze's user avatar
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19 votes

Why is 刻 used to mean ''a quarter of an hour''?

刻 means ''to carve'' but my dictionary also says it means ''to set a time limit''. well, you need a better dictionary 😼 in 國語辭典, the first explanation of the entry “刻”, as noun is: 古代計時的名稱,...
水巷孑蠻's user avatar
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17 votes
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What's the glyph origin of 妖?

《說文解字》沒有「妖」這一條目。 There is not an entry of 妖 in the 《說文解字》. 《說文解字注》對「𡝩」的解釋有提到「俗省作妖」。 The interpretation of 𡝩 in the 《說文解字注》 mentions 俗省作妖. 𡝩 [ yāo | ㄧㄠ ] 意思是,民間習慣上,將「𡝩」省略為「妖」。 也就是,「妖」的本字是「𡝩」。 ...
hinen's user avatar
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17 votes
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Is there any connection between the choice of characters for 九 and 丸?

「九」 and 「丸」 are not related. As @user3306356 points out, 「丸」 is probably related to 「夗」. 商朝甲骨文菁2.1合集6057西周金文作冊夨令簋集成4300戰國・晉金文東周左𠂤壺集成9640小篆九部說文解字今楷書  「九」 depicts an arm showing the hand, a bent wrist,...
dROOOze's user avatar
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15 votes

Why is Russia translated to 俄罗斯(E Luo Si)?

“俄罗斯”不是从英文或俄文来的。可能是从蒙古文Oros来的。 在中国元明朝时称俄罗斯族为“罗斯”或“罗刹国”.当时蒙古族人用蒙语拼读俄文“ROCIA”时,在“R”前面加一个元音.因此,“ROCIA”就成了“OROCCIA”.满清政府时,蒙语的“OROCCIA”转译成汉语时,就成了“俄罗斯”. The name of "Éluósī" does not come from English or ...
andrew's user avatar
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13 votes
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Roots of the difference between 谈,论,说,讲,议, 叙,言,报,告,述

言 (yan2) is the root of all words meaning talk. It says so in the 說文解字 (a dictionary from the Han dynasty): 凡言之屬皆从言 The origin of the character 言 is a picture of a person with a big mouth. In ...
KWeiss's user avatar
  • 1,847
13 votes

Why is 吏 (lì) pronounced differently to 史 (shǐ) and 使 (shǐ)?

Let us look at the reconstructions (specifically, at Baxter-Sagart): 吏 (lì) 'officer' is [r]əʔ-s; 史 (shǐ) 'scribe' is s-rəʔ; 使 (shǐ) 'to send, to cause' is s-rəʔ; 使 (shì) 'to be sent as an envoy; ...
Alexander Z.'s user avatar
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12 votes
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Why is 儿 in different positions in "儿子" and "女儿"?

This is an interesting question, because it allows us to look at how words are formed in modern Chinese. The Characters Both 兒 and 子 meant "child" or "son" in ancient Chinese. 兒 was more specific, ...
KWeiss's user avatar
  • 1,847
12 votes

Does 来 show fruit on a tree or ripening corn?

很有趣。 Very interesting. 我到今天才知道「來」有這個意思,而且是它的本義。 I didn't know that 來 has this meaning until today, and this is even its original meaning. 「來」的本義是「麥」,也就是「麥」的上半部。 The original meaning of 來 is "grain ...
hinen's user avatar
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12 votes
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Meaning of the elements of 爵 (baron)

The 4 elements of this kanji are well known (claw/plectrum; net; north-east; short measurement) Unfortunately, this way of interpreting Chinese character components is not correct. As part of other ...
dROOOze's user avatar
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11 votes
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What is the meaning of the character 打 in 打坐?

According to the 《佛光大辭典》, 打坐 指跏趺而坐 (to sit cross-legged),使心入定 (to settle the mind)。 即指坐禪 (za-zen, to meditate)。 「打」,動作行為之意 (means to do or to act)。 According to the 《汉语大词典》, 打 (36) 谓从事某种工作 (to do ...
hinen's user avatar
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11 votes
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乘 vs 承 - are they related?

「乘」and「承」do indeed sound similar, but an etymological relation (if any) would be before the time of Old Chinese. They are unrelated, as far as usage or glyph origins is concerned. 乘 「乘」was originally ...
dROOOze's user avatar
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11 votes

How did three characters for _de_ emerge?

The premise of the question is a bit backwards. It's not that de evolved into three different characters, it's that three different words evolved to have the same pronunciation in modern Mandarin ...
Claw's user avatar
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11 votes
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Is there any sun 日 in 昌?

時期字體 字形 參考資料 商甲 甲185合集19924 戰國・燕古幣 108古幣文編 戰國・晉璽印 959古璽彙編 秦簡 日甲119睡虎地秦簡 篆 日部說文解字 楷 「昌」 (early morning call, e.g. to the day's labour) is comprised of semantic 「日」 (sun) on top of semantic 「...
dROOOze's user avatar
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10 votes
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Are there any online etymological dictionaries of Mandarin (not for characters but for spoken words)

The ABC Etymological Dictionary of Old Chinese is searchable online here: http://edoc.uchicago.edu/edoc2013/digitaledoc_index.php Go to 'EDOC: Linear Output', select 'All' on the right-hand side (...
eaglebrain's user avatar
10 votes
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认识 vs 知道 based on glyph origins

I stated in my comment that I don't think study the etymology help you understand a character as much as cross reference the roles of a character in different compound words. For 認 [1] recognise; ...
Tang Ho's user avatar
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10 votes

Why is a "thing" called "东西" and not "南北"?

There were two large markets in ancient Chang'an (长安/長安) city of the Tang (唐) dynasty, one called east market (东市/東市) and the other one called west market (西市), gradually people perfer to say to buy ...
xenophōn's user avatar
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10 votes
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What's the logic behind the word 从事?

事 can also be a verb for 'to serve; to work for' e.g. 忠臣不事二主 (a loyal vassal does not serve/ work for two masters) Since 从 itself has many different meanings, just say 从 is not specific enough. ...
Tang Ho's user avatar
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9 votes

What is the meaning of the character 打 in 打坐?

One of sense of 打 is: 与某些动词结合为复词,表示进行之意。E.g. 打扫;打扮 It denotes the continuity of an action. So, 打坐 means sit and continue it on and on, that is, meditation.
dan's user avatar
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9 votes
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What is a "sound loan"?

In the Outlier entry there is a link to a gloss explaining the term: Sound Loan is when a character gets borrowed to represent a word for its sound, rather than its form. Ex. The form 我 wǒ which ...
Mou某's user avatar
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9 votes
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Meaning of early written versions of 地 and etymology?

「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 ...
dROOOze's user avatar
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8 votes

A unified theory of 就 meaning

reference: 现代汉语词典,第6版 (Contemporary Chinese Dictionary, 6th Edition). This dictionary gives 8 basic meaning items for 就. approach, get close to get to, begin to do passive, -ed by finish, become ...
ltux's user avatar
  • 545
8 votes

Why is there the character 李 in 行李?

The comments have the right idea.「行李」originally referred to a kind of messenger sent to run an errand, extended to mean the act of delivering a message/running an errand, further extended to mean to ...
dROOOze's user avatar
  • 22.7k
8 votes

"Baby" vs "宝贝" - coincidence?

They are not etymologically related as other posters have noted, but it might not be a pure coincidence. Many people have noted that words like "mama" and "papa" are similar across language families ...
Penguin2308's user avatar

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