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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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18 votes
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Why does 負 also mean "minus" and "negative"?

I think it's a mistake to rely too heavily on the glyph origin to interpret meanings of a Chinese morpheme. It's easy to confuse the origins of Chinese characters and the origins of Chinese words. ...
Stumpy Joe Pete's user avatar
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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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
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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 ...
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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12 votes
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Is the right componet of 龍 related to 弱?

No, they're not related. The right side of 「龍」 appearing similar to a reflected version of a part of 「弱」 is a coincidence, and is an artefact of seal script shapes. 「龍」 was originally a picture of a ...
dROOOze'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
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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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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

Is there a reason why 午 and 年 look so similar?

Yes, this is a coincidence. Generally, if the modern shape is confusing, you need to go back further in time to look at characters' original shapes and purposes to make sense of what's going on. Also, ...
dROOOze's user avatar
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9 votes
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Why do cat (猫) and dog (狗) share the same 犭 radical?

The radical in 猫 actually comes from 豸 zhi4 (beast), which you can still see in the traditional character 貓. Whereas the radical in 狗 is in fact 犭 quan3. The simplified version of 猫 got the 犭 ...
blackgreen's user avatar
  • 5,452
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

家: why is a home a place for pigs?

Speculations as to why pigs rather than cows form part of the character meaning home comes from some misunderstandings about the characters. Specifically, 「家」 contains 「豕」 as a corrupted phonetic ...
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
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Any ideas on the origin of the 绍 character?

The real way to describe characters should only utilise a surface level, not recursive, decomposition. 「紹」originally meant to continue. The meaning introduce is a semantic extension from to continue >...
dROOOze's user avatar
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8 votes

Why is there a 女字旁 in the character 始?

「始」 (Zhengzhang OC: /*hljɯʔ/) is a variant of 「姒」 (/*ljɯʔ/), which was used early on for various meanings to do with elder female. You may treat the meaning begin as a either a phonetic loan, or ...
dROOOze's user avatar
  • 22.7k
7 votes

Where to look for history and etymology of Chinese characters? For example 工

The Outlier Dictionary of Chinese Characters, when it's finally ready, will be a user-friendly reference about the etymology of Chinese characters, together with mnemonics that can help learning them. ...
米好 '-''s user avatar
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7 votes
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How does 巨 resemble a hand (彐) holding a carpenter's square (工)?

The forms you're looking at are actually the ancestors of「矩」.「巨」was formed by cutting off the person. The analysis starts from this form 西周金伯矩盉蓋集成9412 which depicts a person「大」holding a tool「工」. ...
dROOOze's user avatar
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7 votes
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沒 simplified to 没: What is the origin of the change?

"Simplification" is a process. If it's not reduced in stroke count, it's not actually "Simplified" - the mix-up in language is due to PRC's standard of Chinese being popularly ...
dROOOze's user avatar
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7 votes
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Why are the words 戒 and 戎 written similarly?

The characters resemble each other because 「戒」 was subject to a slight amount of structural shuffling and the original lower-left component of 「戎」 is of a simple shape, so most people won't recognise ...
dROOOze's user avatar
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7 votes

What does 尔 really mean?

There are many resources which "decompose characters", but most of them do not give any insight as to how Chinese characters actually work in relation to the language, and looking at these ...
dROOOze's user avatar
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7 votes

How was 言 created by adding one mark to 舌?

The description 言 was created by adding a mark to 舌 should really be 言 was created by adding one or two horizontal marks to the top of 舌 Details aside, it is a fairly accurate character component ...
dROOOze's user avatar
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7 votes
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What does rain 雨 have to do with mold 霉 and bad luck?

《說文・黑部》 黴,中久雨青黑。从黑,微省聲。 「黴」 (Zhengzhang OC: /*mrɯl/), blackening from being afflicted by prolonged rain. From semantic 「黑」 (black) and reduced phonetic 「微」 (/*mɯl/). The character 「霉」 (mould, ...
dROOOze's user avatar
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7 votes
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How did 漢 come to represent the Han people and civilization?

A few points to start off: Characters are not made up of radicals (which are strictly dictionary section headers); elements of characters which give meaning are called semantic components. The ...
dROOOze's user avatar
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7 votes
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Glyph origin of component 龺?

「龺」 is a regular script shape that appears multiple times by coincidence. There is not really a "glyph origin of 「龺」" to speak of: 「倝」 (Baxter-Sagart OC: /*[k]ˤar-s/, sunrise) is comprised ...
dROOOze's user avatar
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6 votes

What is the glyph origin of '奇'?

The "oracle bone form" that the OP posted looks fake, and no paleography titles that I can find seem to support that「奇」was the original character of「騎」or that「可」originally represented a horse, and all ...
dROOOze's user avatar
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6 votes
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Mnemonic or Glyph Origin for 御

「御」 originally meant to operate or manage/control, then extended to mean the adjective imperial. The meaning to drive a carriage is specifically held by the character 「馭」; when 「御」 is used for this ...
dROOOze's user avatar
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