Saturday, February 27, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (340) Minister - 臣

 The shell bone script of character Minister is


a big opening eye watching upward, which originally means that a person who is a servant of someone, could be wife of husband , housekeeper of host, or minister of king or empire. So he/she is always bent down in front of his/her boss, ready for any orders, and worried for being blamed by the boss. Right now Minister is the major meaning, all other meanings can only be found in the old movies, or books.

The bronze script of the character is


 Similar to the shell bone script except there is a dot in the middle of the eye.

The big seal script of the character is


Similar to to shell bone script.

The small seal script of the character is

The middle rectangle is the eye, but you couldn't know if you didn't know the older scripts. This is the price people have to pay when they changed all curves to straight lines, you write faster, but lose the pictography of the character.

The song typeface of the character is

 Its pinyin is Chen2.

臣 means Minister, but it is used for ministers in the old days, such as Qing Dynasty ministers, or the ministers of foreign countries which constitutional monarchy, but not for current China ministers. 部长 is the title for Chinese ministers nowadays, meaning Director of Department.


Thursday, February 25, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (339) Product - 品

 The shell bone script of character Product is


There are three character mouths, however they are not Mouth but products. Three means many products.

The bronze script of the character is


Two on the top. one on the bottom, still three means many products.

The big seal script of the character is 


Similar to the bronze script.

The small seal script of the character is


Changed back to similar to the shell bone script.

The clerical script of the character is 


The song typeface of the character is

Its Pinyin is Pin3.

The character has some other meanings: Personal character (noun), Grade (noun), Taste (verb), etc.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (338) Not Yet - 未

 The shell bone script of character Not Yet is

A tree with luxuriant foliage and spreading branches, here we see the branches, not the foliage because it is difficult to draw. The top curve in the middle is the twig. The tree will bear fruit but not yet.

The bronze script of the character is


Similar to shell bone script.

The small seal script of the character is

Similar to the old scripts.

The clerical script of the character is

The curves are straight now.

The song typeface of the character is


Same as the clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Wei4.

The character also means Not, Will/Would be. But many times, while it means Not, may imply "it will be, it will do". Just like, the tree do not have fruit, but will do.

For example, Chinese like to say 未来 (来 - Come, Post 146), Not Yet Come, which means In The Future, or Future.  

I want to point out that there is another character 末 (Tree Tip, Post 78) looks very similar in song typeface , but totally different meaning:


The difference is that the 未 (Not Yet) has the shorter horizontal line on the top, but 末 (Tree Tip) has the longer horizontal line on the top. Originally, they are very different, but since the most strokes become straight in clerical scripts, they are so similar that you may be confused which is which. You could go Post 78 to see for more detail about the evolution of character Tree Tip.








Saturday, February 20, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (337) Look at - 视

 The shell bone script of character Look at is


The top is character Display - 示(Post 329), the bottom is character Eye - 目(Post 17). A big eye is looking at the display.

The bronze script of the character is

The left on both characters are display, the right are character Meet - 见 (Post 201). A person is looking at the display.

The big seal script of the character is 

Similar to the bronze script above (the right one).

The clerical script of the character is 


The left is Display, the right is Meet - 见(Post 201)。

The song typeface for traditional character is 


Almost same as the clerical script.

The song typeface for simplified character is 

Its Pinyin is Shi4.

视 is Look at, most of time is See - 看. What is the difference between 视 and 看?看 is more general See, 视 is more like focus on something - Look at. The left is 示, something displayed, and right is 见 - Meet, which is to See the display. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (336) Solitary - 孤

 The big seal script of character Solitary is

The left is character Child (Post 21), the right is character Melon (Post 60). An orphan who lost their parents is like a single melon on the vine. 

The small seal script of the character is


Similar to the big seal script, the left is Child, the right is Melon.

The clerical script of the character is


The left is Child, the right is Melon in clerical script.

The song typeface of the character is

Its Pinyin is Gu1.


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (335) Over - 了

  The big seal script of character Over is 

which is a new born baby who even couldn't move his/her arms, so no arms show up. It also means "Done", "Past".

Let's recall the character Child - 子, its big seal script is

which has the arms.

The meaning of Over of the character should be from that the birth of new baby is over of the pregnancy.

The small seal script of the character is


Similar to the big seal script.

The clerical script of the character is

The round head becomes the top horizontal line and the short left-falling line, the bottom hook is the body.

The song typeface of the character is

Similar to the clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Liao3.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (334) Arrive - 到

 The big seal script of character Arrive is 

The left is character To (Post 298), which is a downward arrow inserted into a wood board on the bottom. Which means To or To get there. It is the Arrow to or to get there. In order to express that a person arrives there, people added a character Person on the right as above to specifically express a person arriving somewhere, sometimes also means that a person's letter arrives or reaches to another person. Anyway, it is used for human relationship.

The small seal script of the character is


The left is To, the right is Knife (Post 61). 《Dictionary of Pictography》explains that people mistakenly used Knife because it is very like the character Person. I agree. However, it is possible that they changed to knife because they just express that people (e.g. soldiers) arrive to some where used arrow and knife, which is possible. 

The clerical script of the character is
It changed a lot. The explanation of change on the left can be found in Post 298, and the right is famous Knife radical, which means Knife. The straight vertical line with a hook is from the long S shape stroke.

The song typeface of the character is


Its pinyin is Dao4.


Thursday, February 11, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (333) Already - 既

 The shell bone script of character already is

The left is the food and utensil, the right is a person, facing back to the food, open his mouth to burp, which means that he has finished the meal, and is ready to leave. Actually, it is reversed character Owe (欠,Post 314), which is a person who is burping. 

Let's recall the character Upcoming - 即 (Post 332), which is a person who is facing the food and ready to eat. 

The bronze script of the character is


Here the person's body is facing the food, but the face is back to food. The explanation in 《Pictography Dictionary 》is that the person finished the meal, ready to leave. I think that he turns his head to burp, which means that he has already eaten a lot, or too much. He may be ready to leave, may be not.

The big seal script of the character is
Similar to the bronze script.

The small seal script of the character is

It changes a lot. The left is the food and utensil. The right part is reserved character Owe (Post 314), a person burps facing back to the food. He is already full.  

The clerical script of the character is


The left is food and utensil same as that of character Upcoming (即, Post 332), but the right part is not reversed character Owe, I don't know why. But we could see that the top is like an open mouth, and the left-falling and right falling strokes are a person's legs, which is a person who burps facing back to the food.

The song typeface of the character is

Its pinyin is Ji4.

即 - Upcoming, or ready to; 既 - Already, or has done. They look like similar, easy to be confused. It is helpful for us to know their original pictographic meanings. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (332) Upcoming - 即

The shell bone script of character Upcoming is


 The left is food in a utensil, the right is a person kneeling down to get ready for the meal. The eating is an upcoming event. 

There is another character Village (乡, Post 191)which is very similar to the character Upcoming.

Let's see the shell bone script of character Village (乡)

The middle is the utensil with food, there are two people who sit on the two sides of the food, they are going to eat together. Character upcoming is only one person who is going to eat.

The bronze script of the character is


changed a little bit but very similar to shell bone script.

The big seal script of the character is

The changes are bigger, especially the person on the right, difficult to figure out if you don't know the shell bone, and bronze scripts.

The small seal script of the character is


Right now, all changed so big that we can't see easily the person kneeling down. But we can tell the food bowl on the left top.

The clerical script of the character is

Low degree of similarity to small seal script, far away from original pictography.

The song typeface of the character is

Its Pinyin is Ji4.


Monday, February 8, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (331) Ride - 乘

 The shell bone script of character Ride is


The top is a person, the bottom is Wood, here means tree. The person who is standing on a tree's branches.

The bronze script of the character is


The top is a person who is flying over the tree on the bottom. The two Us in the legs are feet. Why the person is over the tree, not standing on the tree? I don't know. The two big feet may indicate that the person with the tree or something made from wood is moving. I guess that the bottom is a very simple wheel barrow. The person over the tree without touch the tree may mean that the wheel barrow moves very fast, like flying.

The big seal script of the character is

The person is standing on the tree, with the two big feet (two Us). 

The small seal script of the  character is

The person is not very clear now, the feet are crossed with the branches. 

The clerical script of the character is

We still can see 木 (wood), and the feet, but the person is not clear anymore.

The song typeface of the character is

Almost same as the clerical script.

Its pinyin is Cheng4.

There is another character Ride - 骑 (Post 256). The difference between them is that 骑 is only used for riding a horse or other animals, the 乘 is used much widely, i.e. ride a car, fly airplane, drive a boat, or even ride the wind, also including riding animals even though much less likely than 骑 in riding horse. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (330) Gift - 礼

 The big seal script of character Gift is

On the left is character Display (Post 329), on the right is character Harvest/Abundance (Post 317), meaning a lot of food. In the ancient, food was the most important, and most valuable gift. People take the food to put on table: it is gift for you. 

The small seal script of the character is


Similar to big script with some changes, the right top is not the same as that in the big script if you see carefully. The top part in the small seal script is not like the ears of rice anymore. The most likely is that people just wanted to right fast, so they simplified the strokes but lost the original pictography.

The clerical script of the character is 

The left part changes to make writing easier, which is called Display Radical, meaning that the character is related to something with Display. The right part is similar to old scripts.

The song typeface for traditional character is

Similar to the clerical script.

The song typeface for simplified character is

The right changed to a hook. I have no idea where it is from.

Its Pinyin is Li3.

The original meaning of the character is Gift, it is still the main meaning of the character right now. However, it has other popular meanings: etiquette, courtesy, ceremony, etc.   

Monday, February 1, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (329) Display - 示

The shell bone script of character Display is


The T is a simple table, the 一 on the top indicates the sky or the god in the sky. People may put something (goat or ox) on the table to worship god for advice or protection. The original meaning is to pray to god or sky for advice and protection.

The above is my explanation. The meaning of the character is disputable, there are some different explanations, but there is one thing in common: it is a communication between human being and the god. 

The bronze script of the character is


only the table, no sky.

The big seal script of the character is 


We got a more stable table.

The small seal script of the character is


similar to the big seal script.

The clerical script of the character is

The song typeface of the character is


similar to the clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Shi4

Actually, 示 means Show too. It is often used with another character of Show - 显 to form a combination word: 显示, which means Show. 显 is more like a Show off of a person, 示 is more like a Show of something by people. But most of time, they are exchangeable.