Sunday, April 18, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (372) Smile - 笑

 The big seal script of character Smile are


The far left one has a mouth on the left, and a bent person on the right, which means that the person is laughing (with mouth) and twisting his body because too funny. The middle one has twisted eyebrow and twisted body shape because laughing. The right one has the twisted eyebrow on the top, and smile face on the bottom.

There is another big seal script

The top is like Bamboo - Head Radical, Dictionary of Pictography thinks that it is wrongly written for twisted eyebrow, some readers think that it is a bamboo musical instrument which makes people laugh. the bottom is character 夭, which means a person dancing with happily.

The small seal script of the character is

The top is Bamboo-Head Radical, which means the smile eyebrow. The bottom is character 夭, a happily dancing people

The clerical script of the character is


The top Bamboo-Head Radical looks like smile eyebrow with eyes, the bottom is character 夭.

The song typeface of the character is

Same as clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Xiao4.


Amazing Chinese Characters (371) Wind - 风

 The shell bone script of character Wind is

What is the above? I didn't find the answer. But some people think it as a flying bird, some others think it as ancient flags blown by wind. I think it as hanging ropes blown by wind. Anyway, something is blown by wind, people feel the wind. 

The big seal script of the character is


There is a 几 on the top, which is the wind, the inside and lower part is Insect.

People are confused the character, how could an insect mean wind? 《象形字典》- The dictionary of pictography says that ancient people made mistake: the Insect should be Bird.

Well, I understand why ancient people use insect to mean wind. The insect is locust. When too many locusts hatched out, which occurred very often in ancient time while no pesticide exist, they flight together  to form a horrific locust wind. They follow the nature wind, so people could see what the wind looks like, which is the best way to describe wind, a no color, invisible air flow.

The small seal script of the character is


The top a hat alike is wind, the bottom is insect.

The clerical script of the character is

The outside 几 is wind, the inside is insect.

The song typeface for traditional character is
Same as the clerical script

The song typeface for simplified character is
Inside becomes X, which destroys the pictography.

Its Pinyin is Feng1.



Saturday, April 17, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (370) Of - 之

 The shell bone script of character Of is


The top is a left foot, the bottom is earth. A foot is standing on the earth, which is same as a person is standing on the earth. It means "Right here", "Here is my base", "My root is here". 

The bronze script of the character is


The top is similar to Foot (Post 93)


But it is not. However, many people still think it as a foot, no earth. It is obvious that the bottom of the character Of is a long horizontal line, but the character Foot has the vertical line turns into horizontal line, which is totally different.

The small seal script of the character is

Which is similar to bronze script, but the rise of the left curve line makes the difference of the heights of the two curves is too close to tell. Many people misunderstood that there is one smooth curve from top left continuously to right top, which is like Grass - Head Radical.


《说文解字》- “Analytical Dictionary of Characters language”, the most famous dictionary of Chinese characters created in Han Dynasty, explains the character to be a grass growing from the earth, which is not the original meaning.

What did cause the mistake? One is that the author of the dictionary didn't see the shell bone script the the character because the shell bone script had disappeared before Han Dynasty. He didn't know that the top is foot. Second is that the small seal script is like grass in character grass. 

The clerical script of the character is

The left and middle strokes change to two dot, and the right stroke connects to the bottom stroke which becomes a right - falling stroke, a typical clerical stroke. The change is based on writing quicker but sacrificing the original pictography of the character

As time past, people changed it even more to the following

The left dot connects to the right left - falling stroke, which completely lost all pictography of the character. 

The song typeface of the character is


Same as clerical script.

The major meaning of the character now is Of or Somebody's.

Its Pinyin is Zhi1.
 


Friday, April 16, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (369) Warehouse - 仓

 The shell bone script of character Warehouse is

The top is the roof, the bottom is the base of the storage, may be a big pan. The middle is disputable, some think it as the wall panel, some think it as window. 

The bronze script of the character is

Which is similar to shell bone script except the three parts are disconnected.

The big seal script of the character is


Similar to older scripts.

The small seal script of the character is
Similar to older scripts except the middle part which has a long left-falling stroke, which is characteristics of small seal script: long strokes to make the character more connected and symmetrical.

The clerical script of the character is

Similar to small seal script.

The song typeface of the traditional character is

Very similar to clerical script.

The song typeface of the simplified character is

The roof is still there, but the bottom is completely changed, no way to see any sign of the warehouse. I don't know how it changed from.

The original meaning of the character is Barn, but now it means Warehouse including Barn, normally adding an adjective 粮(Grain) to form 粮仓 -  phrase to mean Barn. Chinese had changed to use phrases formed from exist characters for new meanings at least more than 2000 years ago, which does avoid making new difficult characters. Chinese use more phrases than single characters in modern Chinese. 

Its Pinyin is Cang1.



Thursday, April 15, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (368) Hillock - 丘

 The shell bone script of character Hillock is

Which is like hillock. Let's recall the character Mountain

We see the difference the two characters: the Hillock is missing the middle high peak, which means that the hillock is shorter and smaller than mountain, also not as continuous as mountain.

The bronze script of the character is

Which is confusing. 
《象形字典》- Dictionary of Pictography thanks that this script lost the pictography of the hillock without explanation why it happened. However, there is a comment from a reader which says that this script is not from shell bone script, and not a pictographic script but an ideogram. He thinks that the bottom horizontal line means soil, the top is character North -  北 (Post 264),



which are two back to back humpbacked people. The script means that the hillock shape is like the back of humpbacked people, and not continuous. It is not a drawing of hillock, but ideogrammatic.

The big seal script of the character is

Which is similar to bronze script.

The small seal script of the character is

Which is similar to bronze and big seal scripts except the two arms of people stretched much longer, which is the characteristic of small seal script.

The clerical script of the character is



Which is similar to the structure of older scripts with typical clerical strokes.

However, the standard script of the character becomes 



Which the top left-falling stroke is the opposite of the original stroke in the old scripts, and the middle horizontal stroke is the opposite of the original top right stroke. One comment of a reader of the Dictionary of Pictography says that the top left-falling stroke + the vertical stroke is a person humpbacked in opposite direction, the rest two strokes on the right is a person humpbacked opposite direction to the left. Actually, they are facing each other now, but they are not symmetrical, so difficult to see this way.

Even though the explanation is not very convincing, but I have not found any better explanation.

The song typeface of the character is

 

which is similar to standard script not clerical script, which is very rare. 

Its Pinyin is Qiu1. 


Monday, April 12, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (367) Bosom - 怀

 The big seal script of character Bosom is


The character Tears - 泪 (Post 366) is inside, the outside is character Cloth - 衣 (Post 140).


Some one bursts into tears on bosom. 

《象形字典》- Dictionary of Pictography explanation: A child is crying in his parent's bosom. However, some people disagree with that there is no Child in the character, only eye and tears. So it may be an adult who is crying on his own bosom. 

What I think is that someone who may be child or adult is crying on parent's or other person's bosom. 

The small seal script of the character is 

The left is Heart-Radical, which indicates the character is related to emotion (Chinese think that the emotion is related to heart). Emotion here is sadness. The right part is similar to big seal script. The outside is character Cloth - 衣


The clerical script of the character is 

The left Heart-Radical is simplified a little bit, the right part is similar to small seal script.

The song typeface for traditional character is


Very similar to the clerical script.

The song typeface for simplified character is

怀

The right part is character Not (or Do not), which is completed no similarity to old scripts from pictography, and no related meaning from the ideogram respect. I have no idea how this simplified character is from, and couldn't find any explanation about the change.

Its pinyin is Huai2.




Sunday, April 11, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (366) Tears - 泪

 The big seal script of character Tears is


The top is character Eye, the bottom is water drops, which is tears from the eye.

The clerical script of the character is

The left is Water - Radical, the right is character 目 (Eye), which is not as pictographic as the big seal script above, but it is ideogram that the water from eye is tears.

The song typeface of the character is

Same as the clerical script.

The shell bone script, bronze script, small seal script of character Tears have not been found. The shell bone. and bronze scripts might have not exist, but it is unusual for small seal script of character Tears exist, I don't know the reason.

Its pinyin is Lei4.



 

Friday, April 9, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (365) Present - 今

 The shell bone script of character Present is


The top triangle is an open mouth, the bottom horizontal line is an indicator for sound or voice from the mouth. Someone is talking, most likely about something happening.

Let's compare with character Order

The bottom is a keeling man who is listening the order from the mouth of his boss. 

An open mouth with sound means talking something currently happening. 

The bronze script of the character is


Similar to shell bone script except the horizontal line on the bottom has a little hook and touches one side of the mouth, possible means the tongue is moving to speak.

The big seal script of the character is
Similar to bronze script, but the triangle becomes hat-alike, and the short horizontal line moved a little bit up.

The small seal script of the character is

The top is similar to older scripts, the bottom horizontal line becomes a hook, which may mean the talking is not simple, or just for better vertical stretch to make the character more balance.

The clerical script of the character is
Similar to small seal script, but the hook changes the direction.

The song typeface of the character is

Same as the clerical script.

In comparison with the song typeface of Order

Very similar except the extra dot in the bottom of character Order, which is simplified the kneeling man.

Pinyin for 今 is Jin1.


Amazing Chinese Characters (364) Seal - 封

 The shell bone script of character Seal is

which is a sapling ready for planting. 

There is another shell bone script 


The left is a sapling, and the right is a hand. A person is planting a sapling.

In the ancient time, people plant trees to delimit borders, the area sealed by rows of trees was owned by someone, or some tribal.

The bronze script of the character is


Which is similar to the second shell bone script above: a sapling on left, and a hand on the right. The dot is soil.

The big seal script of the character is

Which is similar to older scripts.

The small seal script of the character is


The left is changed a little bit, but still similar to old scripts. We should pay attention to the top, the curve left is not meeting to the right curve in the middle, they are staggered a little bit. which is different from 

Which is Jade Tablet (Post 361).

The clerical script of the character is


The left is same as character Jade Tablet, not the original sapling with soil any more. People didn't pay attention to the little stagger in small seal script, just made the curves to one straight horizontal line, which changed the meaning of the character from planting sapling to holding a jade tablet.

The song typeface of the character is

Same as clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Feng1.



Thursday, April 8, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (363) Life Cycle or World - 世

 The bronze script of character World is

There are two explanations from different views. 

First is that it is branches and leaves (see Post 202), the strokes are branches and the dots are leaves. The leaves sprout in spring, and fall in the fall, making a life circle of the leaf. So the character means "Life cycle".

Second is that it is a foot (see Post 93), which means that you walk on foot to any where in the world. So the character means World. 

The character still has the two meanings now.

There is another meaning from famous《说文解字》- Analytical Dictionary of Characters: Thirty. Each branch is ten, so totally is Thirty. In ancient time, average life span is about thirty years. So thirty years is a life cycle of human been. But the character has no this meaning right now because there is a specific character for Thirty: 卅, which actually is similar to the character we are discussing.

The big seal script of the character is

Similar to the bronze script.

The small seal script of the character is

Similar to older scripts except the dots change to short lines.

The clerical script of the character is

which is obvious that the three short horizontal lines are connected to be a long horizontal line, the middle and right vertical lines are connected in the bottom, the left line keeps its independent except the curve becomes straight line.

The song typeface of the character is
 

Same as clerical script.

Its pinyin is Shi4.