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 ...
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22 votes

A Complex Chinese Character (Characters Identified: 招財進寶)

This is actually not one character, but a stylistic conglomeration of the characters in the phrase 招財進寶, meaning "ushering in wealth and prosperity". The characters 財 and 寶 end up being represented ...
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20 votes
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Why is 月 used when speaking about anatomy?

The 月字旁 was originally '肉' & not '月' - 肉 has the meaning of 肉体 meaning 'flesh' or having to do with the 'human body' so it's often seen with body parts. Wikipedia: 肉字旁:臺灣標準中,凡肉字旁的字,都寫作「提肉旁」即,使其不會與「...
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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/...
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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,...
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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」。 ...
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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,...
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15 votes

A Complex Chinese Character (Characters Identified: 招財進寶)

For people to understand better...
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  • 1,225
15 votes
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What does "老" in "老虎" and "老鼠" mean

EDIT: Also refer to Aminopterin's answer and Travis Hu's answer for more insights. After some research, I found two reasonable explanations. But, IMHO, the two should be compiled as the following: 老 ...
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  • 3,277
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 ...
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  • 151
13 votes
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角/毛 (10 cents) for money: why?

角 came from 銀角, which was historically a currency that represented a fraction of the silver coin (銀元). 元 came from 圓, a description of the coin's circular shape. A theory for 角's use is that since the ...
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  • 4,910
13 votes
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How come 東/东 has a second meaning 'owner/master' or 'host'?

東: 主人。由於古時主位在東,客位在西,所以稱主人為「   東」。如:「房東」、「店東」。 Translation: In ancient times, the host was seated to the east and the guest to the west, so the host was called "East". reference: http://dict.variants....
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13 votes
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Are 乒 and 乓 used in classical chinese?

The earliest texts with 乒乓 I can find is vernacular novels of Ming dynasty. 《西遊記》 Journey to the West as an example: 如此二三日,又聽得後宰門乒乓乒乓,磚瓦亂響。——Chapter 10 他掄槍舞劍,一擁前來,照行者劈頭亂砍,乒乒乓乓,砍有七八十下。——Chapter 14 ...
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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 ...
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12 votes
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Why is the 会 in 会计 pronounced kuài?

In Old Chinese, it is generally thought that some words followed regular morphological alternations (which are preserved in a few places in MSM, but "frozen", i.e., no longer productive). ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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11 votes
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犬子: who's the dog?

The dog refers to the son. The term 犬子 originally meant "puppy": 【漢·列仙傳·邗子】邗子者,自言蜀人也,好放犬子。時有犬走入山穴,邗子隨入。 So calling one's son 犬子, would have been in essence referring to a child as "my little pup". ...
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  • 4,910
11 votes
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哪儿 vs. 哪里, Difference in Meaning?

There's no difference in meaning. They are not actually all that distinct: both words came from 哪, a generic interrogative character used for indicating a question. Given an appropriate context (e.g. ...
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11 votes
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Is 勺 really the phonetic component of 的?

Modern Chinese has underwent many pronunciation changes since characters were first invented and phonetic components often reflect words as they were pronounced in Old Chinese rather than modern ...
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  • 3,986
11 votes

Why do some Chinese characters have multiple simplified variants?

Traditional to Simplified is many-to-one, right?? It is almost the case that each Traditional character maps to exactly one Simplified character (possibly itself). This is certainly the mental model ...
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11 votes
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Why is 两 used for quantities of two rather than 二?

The historical reason behind it is kind of surprising though. From a Chinese Characters Roots book: The earlier form [of the character] looked like a yoke and a pair of saddles of a two-horse ...
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  • 289
11 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, ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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  • 21.3k
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 ...
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