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28 votes

Historical: How was Chinese written in telegrams and early computers?

For telegrams, the Chinese Commercial Code (中文電碼) was used. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_telegraph_code Roughly, to send a telegram, someone needed to go to the post office, write down the ...
水巷孑蠻'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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10 votes
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How was 辣 used before the Columbian Exchange?

in ancient time, "辛" was used, in lieu of 辣. e.g. in 洪範: 潤下作鹹﹒炎上作苦﹒曲直作酸﹒從革作辛﹒稼穡作甘 http://ctext.org/shang-shu/great-plan/zh?searchu=潤下作鹹,炎上作苦,曲直作酸,從革作辛,稼穡作甘%E3%80%82&searchmode=showall#result ...
水巷孑蠻's user avatar
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10 votes
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Is it fair to assume that 站 and 占 are the same word?

They're not the same word. Upon creation, they were pronounced differently. But 占 is the phonetic component of 站; their pronunciations were close. This is certain. What is less certain, though still ...
lilysirius'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
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7 votes

How old is the expression “老百姓”?

百姓: 释义:战国之前是对贵族的统称,战国之后,楚对平民的通称。《诗经·雅·天保》“群黎百姓”郑玄笺:“百姓,官族姓也。” 现今指平民,普通人。也称“老百姓”。 Before the Warring States period, it was a general term for nobles. After the Warring States period, Chu's ...
Tang Ho's user avatar
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7 votes
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Why does Mandarin Chinese have a smaller inventory of unique syllables?

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,...
Puco4'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

Is the number 4 really considered unlucky because it sounds similar to the word for "death"?

"...if 四 is "unlucky" merely because it sounds "similar" to 死, what makes it especially different from those 53 characters?" My speculation, and too long for the Comment ...
Wayne Cheah's user avatar
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7 votes

Word for “planet”

Was there an earlier word/term/expression that just got “replaced” by 行星? yes. first of all, stars were named “恒星” or “經星” in ancient china in 公羊傳 莊公七年 恒星者何・列星也 the annotation is “恆・常也・常以時列見” in ...
水巷孑蠻's user avatar
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6 votes

Which proverb / expression is original? -- 爱及屋乌, 爱乌及屋, 爱屋及乌

http://www.zdic.net/c/1/3/5022.htm 愛屋及烏 因愛一個人連帶的也愛護停留在他屋上的烏鴉。語本尚書大傳.卷三.牧誓.大戰篇:「愛人者,兼其屋上之烏。」後比喻愛一個人也連帶的關愛與他有關的人或物。明.許自昌.水滸記.第八齣:「他們都是你舅舅的相識,你何無愛屋及烏情?」隋唐演義.第八十七回:「楊妃平日愛這雪衣女,雖是那鸚鵡可愛可喜,然亦因是安祿山所獻,...
Tang Ho's user avatar
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6 votes

How was 辣 used before the Columbian Exchange?

'辣' is not a accurate word for the taste that we mean. For example, as the answers above, garlic (大蒜) tastes '辣', ginger (生姜) tastes '辣', and mustard (芥末‌) also tastes '辣'. These three ones are the ...
lxg's user avatar
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6 votes
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Was the word 男朋友 borrowed from English (or maybe the opposite)?

Yes. The English words boyfriend/girlfriend are modern; their usage to refer to romantic, unmarried relations dates to around 1922. This is also where other terms like "dating" arose. Similarly, in ...
congusbongus's user avatar
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6 votes
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Where was the heartland of the pre-historic Chinese branch of languages (or that of the entire language family)?

A hypothesis is that: The common ancestor of all Sino-Tibetan languages is associated with the Cishan Culture 磁山文化 (c. 6500 – c. 5000 BC) on the eastern foothills of the Taihang Mountains (Sagart et ...
user's user avatar
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6 votes

How to find earliest usage of a term?

This question could be split into two types of terms: new expressions & old expressions. I would rather split it into the following: Textual usage in the classics & history, and later Pre-...
dROOOze's user avatar
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6 votes
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What musical instrument does "敫" refer to?

「敫」 does not have a solid basis for the meaning ancient musical instrument, but it looks like that meaning was derived from a transcription or translation error for a word which really did represent ...
dROOOze's user avatar
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6 votes

What title did Qing China use for US presidents?

Formally, the Chinese title was President - that is, the English word President was transliterated into Chinese as 伯理璽天德. From the Treaty of Wanghia (望廈條約): 以上關涉太平、和好、貿易、海面各款條約,應候各大臣奏明大清大皇帝批准,...
dROOOze's user avatar
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6 votes

Meaning of early written versions of 地 and etymology?

The first two (and the "Shizhoupian script" one) are 墬 in the 隶定 (transcription in modern type of characters component by component) , and this character (墬) was now considered as ancient ...
Ciccione's user avatar
5 votes
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Why doesn't the Chinese language have a one character word for "young"?

It does. 少 means young. See 少不更事 There are also 幼 for children and 老 for old( you already know). 孟子 said: 老吾老以及人之老,幼吾幼以及人之幼
Archeosudoerus's user avatar
5 votes
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Historical Question, Possible Wade-Giles, Sichuan river name

Tung river is the translation of 銅河, it's called 大渡河 (Dadu river) now. On page 127 of the "to the snows of tibet through china", it was written: . . . Lu-ting-chiao, which is built on both banks ...
水巷孑蠻's user avatar
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5 votes
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What are the etymologies of 局 and 局面?

The etymology of 局 1st interpretation 促也。从口在尺下,復局之。『說文解字』 促也。以㬪韵爲訓。从口在尺下復局之。尺所以指厈規榘事也。口在尺下。三緘其口之意。『說文解字注』 Upper part of 局 represents 尺 (ruler), alluding to rules and canons. Lower (inside) part ...
Cosmos Gu's user avatar
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5 votes

Historical: How was Chinese written in telegrams and early computers?

No. We use characters directly. At least in mainland China. However, characters are not mapped int morse code directly. Each character is first mapped into a four-digit decimal number. The numbers ...
fefe's user avatar
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5 votes
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Is syaku an ancient Chinese unit of measurement (Suanfa tong zong)?

I believe this is the original text: 今有葭二莖生池中,並根杪齊,出水三尺,即葭一莖斜去至岸九尺,與水適平,問水深若干? It also comes with the following, hard to read, illustration: This is the measure word you're asking about: 尺 MDBG: ...
Mou某's user avatar
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5 votes
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What are the oracle-bone characters for 后 and 司 which led to confusion in naming 司母戊鼎 (or 后母戊鼎)?

It is uncertain if the character 「后」 existed in Shāng oracle bones. The word itself meaning royal heir > king and royal heir > afterwards was written in Shāng oracle bones with the character 「毓」,...
dROOOze's user avatar
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5 votes
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What language did 咖啡 reach Chinese from?

In a cookbook (《造洋饭书》,written by an American missionary) first published in 1866, coffee was transliterated as “嗑肥”. Confirmation: see the last image here. The Chinese wiktionary for 咖啡 says it comes ...
EEQ's user avatar
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5 votes
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Who is the creator of Chinese language?

No individual created it; it was created by the Chinese people over thousands of years. Oracle bone scripts (甲骨文) date back to the Shang Dynasty, somewhere in the ballpark of 3200 years ago. Prior to ...
Becky 李蓓's user avatar
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5 votes
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Why does 黄牛 mean scalper?

For the usage of Wu dialect in the Jiangnan area, if a person breaks an appointment, it can be said 他今天黄牛了. In dialects of other places, the word 黄 also has the meaning of falling through. For example:...
hanyi00i's user avatar
5 votes
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When years are (or were) written using Hanzi numerals, what are the usual variants/options?

Today is 二零二三年十一月四日 (04- Nov-2023) in 公曆 (Gregorian calendar) 2023 is a date, not a counting number, therefore, it is not written as 二千零二十三 as in $2023 (二千零二十三元) 壹贰叁肆伍陆柒捌玖 mostly appear in cheques or ...
Tang Ho's user avatar
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4 votes

A unified theory of 就 meaning

You ask: "Why the hell 'tall building + very' became 'to become a subject'?! " First of all, 尤 did not mean "very," it meant "stand out." 就 the character is a pictorial rebus of a tall building that ...
Nimrod's user avatar
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