Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Amazing Chinese characters (424) Young - 夭

 The shell bone script of character Young is 

A young boy or girl is dancing.

The bronze script of the character is


Similar to shell bone script except the head.

The small seal script of the character is 


Similar to older scripts except the head.

The clerical script of the character is

Some similarity to older scripts, but the head is not like head anymore.

The song typeface of the character is

Same as the clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Yao1.

夭 is like character Sky - 天

Be careful on the difference.


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Amazing Chinese characters (423) Body - 尸

 The shell bone script of character Body is

We can recall the character Person (Post 37)


The difference between the two is that the Person's leg is straight and the Body's is twist. It is disputable on why the character Body is twist not the Person. I have not found one explanation is better than others.

The bronze script of the character is
Similar to shell bone script.

The big seal script of the character is

Which changes big, but still has some similarity to older scripts.

The small seal script of the character is 

Similar to big seal script.

The clerical script of the character is

The left is closed, and lost the original pictography.

The song typeface of the character is
Same as the clerical script.

Its pinyin is Shi1.

尸 is Body, a living body. There is another character 屍 - 尸 + 死(Dead), means Dead Body.
During simplification of Chinese characters in 1950s, experts merged character Dead Body - 屍 with 尸, and abandoned 屍. So right now, 尸 means Dead Body in most of time used alone right now. But it still means living body as a part of character, which makes some confusion,  


Saturday, June 26, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (422) Face or Facing - 临(臨)

 The bronze script of character Face (verb) is


A person is looking down at seedlings, checking the growth of them, which is the original meaning of the character.

The big seal script of the character is

The right is character Person, the left top is a big eye, the bottom are seedlings. The person body and the eye are disconnected right now, I don't know why.

The small seal script of the character is

The left top is the big eye, the right is the person body, two of three seedlings are in the bottom, one is in the middle of right. The character seems to be cut to different parts and put them together in best arrangement of the space.

The clerical script of the character is

The left is big eye, the right top is the person body, the 品 is the seedlings, the original pictography is almost gone.

The song typeface of the traditional character is 

Same as the clerical script.

The song typeface for simplified character is

The eye becomes two vertical lines, the top person is not changed, the bottom 品 becomes a dot and a vertical line inside a 口, difficult to see similarity to traditional character.

The pinyin of the character is Lin2.

The character now means Face (verb), no looking down in most situations. 



Thursday, June 24, 2021

Amazing Chinese characters (421) Boat - 船

 The bronze script of character Boat is


The left is character Boat - 舟 (Post 117), the right top is water flow of the river, and the bottom is a big stone in the river. The character means that a boat is sailing in the river, which is different from the character 舟, which is just a stationary boat, may be even on the ashore. 

The big seal script of the character is

Similar to the bronze script.

The small seal script of the character is
Similarly, the left is character 舟, the right is river flow and stone.

The clerical script of the character is
Similar to older scripts.

The song typeface of the character is
Same as the clerical script.

So there are two characters of Boat, 舟 (Post 117), and 船. 舟 just means Boat, stationary boat, or we don't know if it is moving or not. 船, is a boat sailing in river. Nowadays, 船 is more popular for boat, 舟 is used most in old Chinese (白话文).


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Amazing Chinese characters (420) Along - 沿

 The big seal script of character Along is

The left is character Water (Post 13), the right top is river flow, the bottom is a big stone in the river. The character means "Along the river".

The small seal script of the character is

Similar to big seal script, the left is character Water, the right are water flow and stone in the river.

The clerical script of the character is

The left is Three-Drop Radical meaning water, and the right top closed, lost some pictography, but same meaning, the bottom is stone, unchanged.

The song typeface of the character is
沿

Same as clerical script.

The pinyin of the character is Yan2.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Amazing Chinese characters (419) Ugly - 丑(醜)

 The shell bone script of current character Ugly is

Which is a hand with fingers trying to twist something, twist is the original meaning, so used "current character Ugly".

The bronze script of the character is
Similar to the shell bone script.

The big seal script of the character is
Similar to older scripts.

The small seal script of the character is

The fingers connected by a vertical line, but we don't know why.

The clerical script of the character is


 
The curve down becomes a horizontal line, a typical clerical script stroke.

The song typeface of the character is

Its Pinyin is Chou3.

The twist meaning of 丑 has been disappeared long time ago, people added a Hand Radical to create new character 扭 to represent the twist. 丑 has been used in Chinese Zodiac for long time.

So character 丑 didn't mean Ugly for thousands years.

Let's see the character of Ugly from beginning.

The shell bone script of original character Ugly is


The left is a liquor jar, the right is character Ghost (Post 71). Ancient Chinese considered that drunkard is ugly.

The bronze script of the character is


 The left is liquor jar, the right is Ghost who holds the jar.

The small seal script of the character is

The left is character Liquor Jar - 酉 (Post 104), the right is character Ghost - 鬼 (Post 71).

The clerical script of the character is
Similar to small seal script.

The song typeface of the character is

Which is traditional character.

Its Pinyin is Chou3, exactly same as 丑 above.

We now know 醜, and 丑 , with different meanings, both have been traditional characters for 3500+ years, 

In 1950s, simplification of Chinese characters, the experts decided to combine the two into one: 丑, and 醜 is abolished.

People now think that 丑 is simplified character, and 醜 is traditional character, which is wrong. Both are traditional characters, simplification makes 醜 disappeared, and 丑 takes all meanings of both characters: combination of two characters into one. 丑 had never had meaning of Ugly before 1950s, but right now it is well known that 丑 means Ugly.



Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Amazing Chinese characters (418) History - 史

 The shell bone script of character History is

The top is character Middle or Center (Post 182), the right bottom is a hand. The character means that holding a flag of objective and truth high, which is the most important for dealing with history.

The explanation of Dictionary of Pictography for this character is "A envoy or Ambassador who holds a flag-like passport to go foreign country to negotiate". But many people don't agree, neither I. I will discuss this topic when I discuss character 吏, and 使.

The bronze script of the character is
Similar to shell bone script.

The small seal script of the character is

The hand is right under the character Middle or Center.

The clerical script of the character is

The hand is simplified a little bit too much, difficult to see the hand.

The song typeface of the character is

Same as clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Shi3.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Amazing Chinese characters (417) Noon - 午

 The shell bone script of character Noon is

What is the above? Dictionary of Pictography explains that it is a pounding rice pestle like the one below


Many disagree.

Let's see the bronze script of the character

Which is obvious not a pounding rice pestle because the sharpe pointed end. 

What is many others thinking? They think that it is either a rope (like the shell bone script), or a wood stick or metal dagger like device (like the bronze script), which is hanging on, people can decide the time based on the angle of the shadow of the device under sunshine.  

I agree with that it is a device to determine the time, not pounding rice pestle.

The small seal script of the character is

which is similar to the bronze script, even though Dictionary of Pictography thinks it is like a pounding rice pestle. 

The  clerical script of the character is

The top curve becomes two strokes.

The song typeface of the character is

Its Pinyin is Wu.

午 is used not only Noon, but Morning - 上午,and Afternoon - 下午, which are most used words. 

Friday, June 11, 2021

Amazing Chinese characters (416) Morning - 朝

  The shell bone script of character Morning is

The right is character Evening - 夕 (Post 52), here is a gloomy moon in the morning. The middle of left part is the sun, under and over it are grass. The sun is in grass, which means the sun is just rising up just above the horizon, same level as the grass. This is what we see often in the morning.

The bronze script of the character is



The left of both characters is similar as that of the shell bone script, except there is a dot in the sun, which is standard form of character Sun. However the right part of both characters is not moon but a river. The left one has no water drops, the right one does. Different people draw the character differently based on their own understanding. The two show that morning is the sun just rises up near a river. 

The big seal script of the character is
Similar to bronze script, especially the right one.

The small seal script of the character is

The left is similar to older script, sun and grass. The right part is a cover on the top, and character Boat (Post 117). 《象形字典》- "The dictionary of pictography" considers that is written mistakenly. I don't thinks so. It is just different people's different idea of the morning: the boat in the river, which is perfect to describe the morning too.

The clerical script of the character is

The left part is similar to older scripts except all bent lines are straight which is typical clerical characteristics. The right part is character Moon - 月, which is similar to shell bone, bronze scripts.

The song typeface of the character is
Same as the clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Zhao1.

The character is a Noun. There is another character Morning - 早 (Post 266) is adjective.

朝 also means Toward, or To as preposition, same as 向 (Post 415). It is pronounced Chao2 while it means Toward or To.



Amazing Chinese Characters (415) Toward or To - 向

 Shell bone script of character Toward or To is

A house with a window, which is toward south same as the door in ancient time in order to get more sunshine.

The bronze script of the character is

Similar to the shell bone script.

The small seal script of the character is

Similar to older scripts.

The clerical script of the character is

Still similar to older scripts.

The song typeface of the character is

Similar to clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Xiang4.




Monday, June 7, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (414) Writing Brush - 聿

 The shell bone script for character Writing Brush is

The top right is a hand, the rest is a writing brush. The original meaning of the character is Holding a brush. 

The bronze script of the character is


Similar to the shell bone script.

The small seal script of the character is


The top  reverse E is a hand, the rest is the brush.

The clerical script of the character is

The top is similar to small seal script, the bent big curve becomes a horizontal line. 

The song typeface of the character is
 

Same as clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Yu4.

聿 is not a popular character right now, most people may have never used it. However, it is a very important part of a lot of characters, especially traditional characters, such as Write - 書 (Post 54), Brush - 筆 (Post 134),  Draw - 畫 (Post 278), and more. So it is very helpful for us to understand the character.