This is an interesting topic; it touches one of the core idea of the Chinese language.
The Chinese language and all its dialects have not been designed by one inventor at one specific day. Instead, they were created and evolved at different regions through thousands of years at least.
Evidences (see below) showed that some of the Chinese characters from ...
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).
It's unlikely that shin is based on the Chinese character, either. It seems taken from the Phoenician alphabet, where the corresponding letter looks like a Latin W.
It's worth keeping in mind that ...
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 with the same 貝 component in this "character". While the left side of 招 (扌) and the right side of 財 (才) are technically not the same component, they look similar ...
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.
Etymology of 一, 二, and 三
Explanation of 一/二/三 in 象形字典 (Dictionary of Pictographs)
一 is a special self-explanatory character. The ...
Over its long history of usage, the meaning of 息 has evolved.
Yes, 息 has the connotation of message.
(5) 消息 [message]
Its original meaning is to breathe;pant.
And then the meaning was extended,
[ Breathing slowly was called 息, ...
豚 is pronounced tun2 in Mandarin and tyun4 in Cantonese.
The only word I know which still uses it is 海豚 hai3tun2 "dolphin". The Japanese reading is ton (on), buta (kun), as I'm sure you know.
豚 was the original character (with the meat radical on the left hand side), while 猪 meant a wild pig (which is suggested by its radical). Japanese borrowings from ...
There is not an entry of 妖 in the 《說文解字》.
The interpretation of 𡝩 in the 《說文解字注》 mentions 俗省作妖.
𡝩 [ yāo | ㄧㄠ ]
It means that 𡝩 is used to be simplified to 妖.
That is, the original form of 妖 is 𡝩.
《說文解字》 explains 𡝩 as follows.
皃 [ ...
Nope. The radical was simplified from 玉 (jade), originally referring to a polished sphere of jade. 求 is the phonetic component.
For reference, Baxter's Old Chinese reconstruction has 求 *grju, and 球 *grju. In this particular case, 求 has remained a good phonetic for three millennia!
The sense of 'sounding stone made of jade' can be seen in the Kangxi ...
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):
The origin of the character 言 is a picture of a person with a big mouth. In ancient Chinese, it’s the general word for any form of speech or talking. In modern Chinese, it has become literary and is normally only used in compound words like ...
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:
“乒” and “乓” are used together as onomatopoetic in history. :)
Is this discrepancy above due to a calligraphical mistake or lazyness, namely, leaving off that one tick, made a long time ago?
TL;DR: I don't think so, because (1) 尸 used as the pictographic radical with the meaning house in 屋 was explicitly mentioned in 说文解字 long before, (2) the original meanings of 尸 and 户 used as radicals are not exactly the same (house ...
This radical is called the 双耳旁 or 双二刀, due to it looking somewhat like an ear or the 刀 character. There are actually two radicals depending on whether it's placed to the left or right: 左耳刀 if on the left, 右耳刀 if on the right. The two radicals have different origins and different meanings.
The left version is derived ...
I didn't know that 來 has this meaning until today, and this is even its original meaning.
The original meaning of 來 is "grain or corn", which is the upper part of 麥.
《說文解字》 explains that 來 means 周所受瑞麥, 來麰也.
《說文解字注》 interprets it as follows.
「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」was originally a picture of a person「大」climbing on top of a tree「木」; feet「舛」were added on to the person later (Shape #2 onwards).
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 characters, for the vast majority of the time, character components represent either meaning or sound of the word they originally were created for.
A personal experience, most etymology explanations of characters are not definitive. Explanations can be derived from theoretic work or maybe just personal imagination.
That been said, I searched in google and found:
Figures on how 奴 as written in ancient and modern times. Link from hkbu.edu.hk. Now, please look at the figure below, which is 奴 in its 小篆 ...
Etymology of 五
Explanation of 五 in 象形字典 (Dictionary of Pictographs)
五 is also a special self-explanatory character. Its oracle glyph uses a cross to imply "meeting of everything between the ...
Etymology of 四
Explanation of 四 in 象形字典 (Dictionary of Pictograph)
四 is a special self-explanatory character. Its oracle glyph represents it is the twice of 二. The original idea of character construction: twice of 二. Its ...
This is not an easy question. But I think here is an answer.
It originated from the Chinese water clock or clepsydra in the ancient time (刻漏 or 漏壶, http://baike.baidu.com/view/41631.htm). 刻漏 or 漏壶 was a leaky water container, where the water level represents time. 商 was originally the scale plate on this type of water clock. The scale first had 100 grades (...
Note: much of this is based on the answer by Altair at Chinese-Forums.
It may be worthwhile to answer the 也 / 他 / 地 / 池 question first.
Character Mandarin Cantonese Hokkien Middle Ch. Old Ch.
也 yě jaa5 / yáh iā yæX *lAjʔ
他 tā taa1 / tā tha/thaⁿ tha *l̥ ˤaj
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.
 recognise; identify; make out
 admit; acknowledge; agree; accept
 enter into a certain relationship with
 offer/undertake to do sth
Summary: Etymology of Number Characters
一(one), 二(two), 三(three)
Simple ideographs / Self-explanatory characters. Originate from the ancient counting rods. (Explanation from Dictionary of Oracle Scripts.)
亖 and 四 (four)
亖: Simple ideograph. Originate from the ancient counting rods.
四: Phonetic loan character. Come from 呬 or 泗. (Explanation from ...
說文解字 has both references for 氣 and 气.
Put simply, 气 and 氣 comes from different origin and somehow merge together into one stream later.
In detail: 米 is not added to 气 to get 氣 in Tang Dynasty. Long time ago, 氣 appears in the form of Bronze inscription, though different meaning as 气. 氣 is originally designed to mean the "air generated from digesting food". ...
Yes, 我 was a kind of weapon.
According to the book 字源谈趣, 我 was a kind of broadax originally in slavery society.
And then later, 我 was obsoleted by other new weapons little by little. From Han and Tang dynasty, 我 was borrowed to be used as first ...
I can only provide a partial answer:
Many of the characters used in the names of non-Han ethnic groups were originally derogatory. After the founding of the PRC, the government conceptualized New China as a 多民族国家, and they changed many of the characters that were perceived as derogatory. I don't know if this process started under the 国民党, as you suggest, ...
Wikitionary has an etymology for this character 四 which says:
The original shell and bone character was 一 written four times, 亖
(compare 二 and 三). The bronzeware style of the character featured a
repositioning of those four lines inside 口; this later evolved into
the combination used today of 口 mouth and 八 divide which meant a
dispersal of breath. ...
The discussion on zdict basically explains that the Oracle bone script morphed (讹变) into its current form, but this transformation did not follow standard rules.
The original Oracle bone script shows a man riding a horse, which means "to ride" (i.e. what 骑 means today), but when small seal script was developed, the horse morphed into 可, which violates the ...
Welcome more questions Thomas.
Very good answer above.
It is a Spring Couplet 挥春/揮春. 招財進寶 is an auspicious saying to wish families more wealth and treasure. Chinese paste this on the front door or wall before the Chinese New Year. And they renew it annually. Some companies hope like this lucky saying so they paste it too. Besides, "福"(fu) is very popular ...