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 ...
For telegrams, the Chinese Commercial Code (中文電碼) was used.
Roughly, to send a telegram, someone needed to go to the post office, write down the text message, info of sender & receiver - by hand, on a form.
Then, the worker would "translate" each Chinese character into 4 digits, according to the ...
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 ...
的 in its function as a particle is attested in the 四大名著 Four Great Classical Novels, which are written in a vernacular Mandarin-type language, dating from the Ming dynasty. The particle use of 的 is also attested from the Yuan dynasty, when it seems it was adopted for the grammatical particle of the emerging new literary language. Its earliest attestation is ...
The Phonology of Standard Chinese by San Duanmu (端木三) has an entire chapter devoted to this topic (The Word Length Problem):
In this section I review six previous approaches to the disyllabic phenomenon in Chinese. For convenience, I call them (a) the homophone-avoidance approach, (b) the speech-tempo approach, (c) the grammatical approach, (d) the rhythm ...
This is more of a history question.
勇 is short for 乡勇, which roughly means "militia". They are temporary soldiers recruited from the local population in times of need, and are usually disbanded soon after. Soldiers wearing 勇 on their uniforms was a Qing dynasty thing though; they stood in contrast to the elite Banner Armies and the professional Green ...
The construction of 惊 follows the essence of the phono-semantic compound character. In folk culture, people who are not well-educated often invent characters in this way. Some of these characters became popular and then were included in the officially admitted simplified forms, and the others were eliminated. For example
(admitted formal ...
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. 在哪), the character expresses the meaning of "where". Both 哪儿 and 哪里 builds upon that.
The suffix 儿 is generally meaningless, and reflects the northern ...
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 Chinese.
Mandarin in particular, features unstressed syllables, which are commonly referred to as having a "neutral tone" rather than having one of the four main ...
Have a look at http://zh.wiktionary.org/zh-hant/%E5%9C%8B%E5%AE%B6, which explains lots of traditional meanings of 国家.
The basic meaning is related to 古代諸侯的封地稱國，大夫的封地稱家. In the classical age of China, there were vassal states and the land of a vassal was called 国. There were also officials titled 大夫 who were given land as well, and a 大夫's land is called 家. ...
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 ...
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 ...
in ancient time, "辛" was used, in lieu of 辣. e.g. in 洪範:
nowadays, dictionary would explain 五味 as 甜﹒酸﹒苦﹒辣﹒鹹, instead of older terms 甘﹒酸﹒苦﹒辛﹒鹹
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. ...
I'll answer based on the article provided by @Stan. From what I can tell, it is a transcription from a 1999 article that appeared in 《语文建设》, the raw data of which came from 汉语成语考释词典 by 刘洁修, 1989.
Period | Number | Percent
春秋以前 Before Spring and Autumn | 88 | 1.21
春秋 Spring ...
How was it pronounced in older times (i.e. Middle Chinese)?
I haven't found a record of 瞓 in classical Chinese, but since 瞓 and 训 are both read as fan in Cantonese, I'll take 训 instead. It is read qhuns in reconstructed Old Chinese that is before the 1st century B.C. In Middle Chinese it is pronounced as hyonh.
How did the pronunciations come into ...
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
eat something (side dish) together with other thing (main course)
[preposition] a: by, at somebody's convenience, take advantage of. b: about, concerning, with ...
「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 corruption of Qín Dynasty forms which used the highly similar sound component 「它」 (/*l̥ˤaj/).
Note carefully that ...
Etymology of 六
Explanation of 六 in 象形字典 (Dictionary of Pictographs)
六 was a pictographic character. Its oracle glyph looked like the frame of a cottage . ...
After discussing it with my friends, the best result I can come up with now is
The characters beside the stamp characters are the corresponding ones that may be the candidates. Seal script samples are also given. Unfortunately, I cannot find a 100% convincing answer, because they can hardly form a meaningful phrase.
Character 1: 聞 or 查. Either is doubtful. ...
This is 协和语, it used to help Japanese officials and soldiers to communicate with Chinese in Manchukuo and the Second Sino-Japanese War(中国抗日战争).
"干活", "新交", which are the two verbs, "干活" is the Chinese "work" means, so in 协和语 "干活" becomes a verb of many meanings.
As Wang Dingwei notes in his answer, 瞓 is a phono-semantic character that uses 訓 (also pronounced fan3 in Cantonese) as the phonetic component to represent the word fan3 in its meaning of "sleep". However, 瞓 is a character that was invented in recent times. The phonetic 訓 was chosen because it happens to have the same pronunciation in modern Cantonese, but ...
I did some research. Here is what I found:
1) 樂 first meant music instruments, pronounced 'ngok'（逆角切）. In Japanese, it is がく［楽］(gaku).
2) The meaning happy '悦/樂' first had the same pronunciation 樂 as in 音樂. This was probably the case in 战国 (周朝)，because according to《爾雅·釋詁》(written after BC 476), 悦: 樂也。
3) In 唐韵 （written in 732 AD, 樂 meaning happy is ...
It's an honorific, meaning "illustrious" or "enlightened general", and as such is not specific to Liu Bei.
For example, in the Records of the Three Kingdoms, Pei Song's annotations cite a passage where Huangfu Li (皇甫酈) addresses Li Jue (李傕) as 明將軍:
In recent times, you yourself, illustrious general, saw with your own eyes ...
Before the Warring States period, it was a general term for nobles. After the Warring States period, Chu's general name for civilians. Today it refers to civilians, ordinary people. Also known as "The people"
百姓 was originally referring to the noble ...
From San Duanmu, The Phonology of Standard Chinese:
While Middle Chinese (about AD 600) had over 3,000 syllables (including tonal
distinctions), modern Standard Chinese (SC) has just over 1,300. Thus, over a period of 1,500 years, Chinese lost more than half of its syllables. Moreover, the syllable inventory of modern Chinese continues to shrink. In ...
The order of strokes affects the "evolution" of the character when writing in high speed. In high speed the character shape shifts and one can often recognize the character even after extreme deformation because the general flow of the character is there. But if the stroke orders are changed, the deformation doesn't conform to the expected shape and it may ...
Etymology of 七
Explanation of 七 in 象形字典 (Dictionary of Pictographs)
The Japanese wiki page mentions that the claim is a "folk theory" that is "denied by academics".
An alternative etymology for Cantonese hai6 comes from 系/繫. I don't have this book, but apparently Jerry Norman suggests this in Chinese (1988). This word had a very early meaning of 'to be connected', was used as a copula in later texts, and the phonological ...