Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (164) Oil - 油

The shell bone script of character Oil is


one drop over a pan.


Similar to shell bone script.

Its small seal script is

which changed a lot.  The left part is small seal script for Water. What is the right part? Why was it changed?

Let's see the following


Which are seal scripts for Oil, the left is older than the right. We can see the left is a closed oil pot, the dot is the oil dropt, the 人 over the dot should be something like a pipe for pouring out of oil. The right one should be standard small script for Oil, but the oil drop and the pipe connected together to become 十.

By some unknown reasons, the right character had been used for another meaning - From: formed from, caused from, ect. So people added a Water on the left of the right character to keep the meaning of Oil.

Here Water means liquid.

The clerical script for character Oil is

The left is the radical for Water, the right one is similar to the small seal script.

The current standard printing script is


very similar to clerical script.

I need to point out that Chinese use 油 for Gasoline too because it is liquid. Chinese think Gas is something like air, not liquid.

Its pinyin is You2.  




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