Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Amazing Chinese Characters (308) Exert (oneself) - 奋

  The shell bone script of character Exert is

The outside

is Cloth (Post 140).

The middle inside

is Short-Tail Bird (Post 107).

The bottom

is Field (Post 3).

The character has Cloth, Bird, Field. What is the meaning of the character?

《象形字典》(Dictionary of Pictography) explains that people use cloth to capture the bird in the field, the cloth can cover the bird to stop it flying away.

Some people don't agree with this explanation, they think that the character means that the bird captured and covered by cloth try to exert itself to fly away, which shows the meaning of Exert.

The interesting thing in this field, many unknowns and many disputes, not many standard answers.

The big seal script of character Exert is


Similar to bronze script.

The small seal script of the character is

The outside Cloth become bent 土 (soil) on the top, the middle Bird, and bottom Field keep the same.

The clerical script of the character is


The top 土 become 大 (big), the middle and bottom keep the same.

The traditional sone typeface is


Similar to the clerical script.

The simplified song typeface is

The middle  隹 (bird) disappeared, lost the most important part.

Its Pinyin is Fen4. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Amazing Chinese Characters (307) Jail or Prison - 牢

The shell bone script of character Jail or Prison is

Inside is character of Ox, which is surrounded by fence or some barriers. Some one points out that in ancient time, people found or dug a big hole with one side open or locked by a bar. The ox were kept in the hole at night and in the winter when there was a cover on the top to keep the hole warm.

Original meaning of the character is a cowshed alike where ox are fenced or held. If there was a door  or bars blocks the ox is unknown.

The bronze script of character Jail or Prison is


similar to shell bone script.

The big seal script of Jail or Prison is
Similar to the old scripts.

The small seal script of Jail or Prison is


Now we see there is a bar blocking the cowshed.

When people used the cowshed to jail people is unknown, but at least before the small seal script was created, which is in Qin Dynast, 221 B.C.

The clerical script of Jail or Prison is

The top is famous Bao - Gai Tou, means roof of a house. The bottom is Ox. It is reasonable, because people built a cowshed with a roof to cover, not an open space anymore.

Its Pinyin is Lao2.

There is another character 囚 - Prisoner (Post 79), which is exchangeable with 牢. However, 囚 has the meaning of Prisoner, but 牢 most of time is Jail. So there is a little bit difference.