Monday, October 31, 2016

Amazing Chinese Characters (110) Gather or Collect - 集

The shell bone script for character Gather is


the bottom part is Wood or Tree, the top part is a bird flying from right to left, ready to land on the tree.

The bronze script is


there are three birds on the tree, which means "Gather".

The small seal script is


which is only one bird on tree.

Its clerical script is


similar to the small seal script, one bird on tree.

Why the later scripts have one bird on tree may be due to make writing simple and easy.

Its current standard printing script is


same as the clerical script.

The meaning of the character is more than Gather right now. It also means "Collect".

Its Pinyin is "Ji2".


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Amazing Chinese Characters (109) Double - 雙

The big seal script for character Double is


the top are two short-tailed birds, the bottom is a hand holding the two birds, which means Double - double birds.

Its Small seal script is


Let's compare it with bronze script for One



It is clear that the Double is one hand holding two birds, and the One is one hand holding one bird.

The clerical script for Double is


similar to its samll script, but the the bottom for hand changes to a symtric, less pictography.

The current standard printing script for traditional character is


very similar to its clerical script.

The current standard script for simplified character is



The two birds disappeared, but there are two hands. Well, two hand may be OK to represent "Double", however, the change is a little bit disconnected from the older scripts, at the same time, it is too similar to another character "Friend"


which is evolved from two right hands, let's see its samll seal script


which is the original "two hands", not the "Double". So I would say that the simplified character for "Double" is not good simplifying.

Its Pinyin is "Shuang1".

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Amazing Chinese Characters (108) One (bird) - 隻

Chinese has many characters to express the unit of items or species, like Piece in "a piece of",  Box in "a box of", Dozen in "two dozen of", etc. But Chinese has much more the unit characters, which is very confusing to foreigners who learn Chinese at the beginning.

The unit character for bird or bird related like Hen, Duck is 隻,its shell bone script is


which is a hand at the left botttom, holding a bird. Let's see its bronze script


right now the hand on the right bottom. It means "one (bird)", which is specific for bird or bird species. It can not be used in other species or items. From the above old scripts, you won't make mistake to use it in other species because you see a bird in the character.

It is a ideography character. But all radicals are pictography.

Its small seal script is


which changed a lot. The top is the Short-Tailed Bird


the bottom is a hand. It has the same ideography, but less pictographic than the older scripts.

The clerical script is


which has some similarity to the small seal script, but the bottom part is changed too much to see it as a hand.

Its current standard printing script for traditional character is


very similar to its clerical script.

Its current standard printing script for simplified character is


which has no any similarity to older scripts, a bad simplified character. People have no clue to relate it with bird, which is the major reason why foreigners are very confused on unit characters. They became far away from their original pictography and ideography form.

Its Pinyin is "Zhi1".

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Amazing Chinese Characters (107) Short - Tailed Bird - 隹

The shell bone script for character Short-Tailed Bird is


which may be not very clear, let's see its big seal script


We see a bird. In comparison with Character Bird


which has long tail, both are pictographic characters.

The small seal script for Short-Tailed Bird is


similar to the older scripts, but more like a stationary bird, not a flying bird.

Its clerical script is


the curves disappeared, but still some similarity to the small seal script.

Its current standard printing script is


I need to point out that this character is not used popular alone. But it is a very important radical in characters. All of times, it means "bird", or something related to "bird".

Its Pinyin is "Zhui1".




Thursday, October 20, 2016

Amazing Chinese Characters (106) Pavilion - 亭

The shell bone script for character Pavilion is



The top is the roof and high attic, the bottom is the support, here is only pillar, a little bit unstable.

Let's see its small seal script



We can see at least three pillars right now. See the following Chinese pavilion


There are actually 6 pillars. But if we see it from a certain angle, we just see three of them because the back three are blocked by the front three.

It is a pictography character.

Its clerical script is


Its bottom changed a little bit, the two legs on the sides become much shorter than the middle one, the middle one has a hook which is added by calligraphists for some unknown reason.

The current standard printing script is


very similar to its clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Ting1.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Amazing Chinese Characters (105) Liquor - 酒

The shell bone script for character Liquor is


On the left is Water, means liquor here, on the right is a Jug or Jar, the container for the liquor. It is an ideography character.

Its small seal script is


similar to the shell bone script, more smooth, round lines.

Its clerical script is


Similar to the older scripts with broad-brush strokes.

Its current standard printing script is


Same as the clerical script.

Its Pinyin is "Jiu3". 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Amazing Chinese Characters (104) Liquor Jug - 酉

The shell bone script for character Liquor Jug is


which meant also alcoholic beverages in the ancient time. But the original meaning is Liquor Jug used for making alcoholic beverages.


Its small seal script is


more round jar.

Its clerical script is


similar to the small seal script.

Nowadays, it is not used very often in spoken Chinese, even rarely used in writing. But it is a very common part in characters, normally means wine, alcohol, or fermentation.

Its current standard printing script is


Its Pinyin is "You3".

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Amazing Chinese Characters (103) Friend - 友

The shell bone script for Friend is


two right hand together means that two people work or walk together, they are friends. It is an ideogram character.

The small seal script is


similar to its shell bone script, just there two small seal script hands.

The clerical script is


which has no similarity to the older scripts, but if we think the top horizontal line as a bent down on the right end, we can see the similar "hand" as the one in small seal script. The bottom part means "hand" originally, so it has two "hands" too.

Its current standard printing script is


same as its clerical script.

Its Pinyin is "You3".

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Amazing Chinese Characters (102) Again - 又

The shell bone script for character Again is


which original means Right Hand. It has only three fingers in compare with Hand,


 which is a left hand.

The character changed its meaning to Again, the reason is unknown. One possible reason is that ancient people might have raised right hand to signal "Do it again".

It means "Again" as a single character, but it means Hand in most of time when it is a part of a character.

Its small seal script is


similar to the shell bone script.

Its clerical script is


which changed a lot, but still some similarity.

Its current standard printing script is


Its Pinyin is "You4".


Amazing Chinese Characters (101) Many - 众

The shell bone script for Many is


The top is character Sun, the bottom is three character People. It means that many people got together under the sun. It is an ideogram character.

Its big seal script is


The top is character Eye right now, which means that a supervior is watching a group of people. Why did it change from people under the sun to people under watched? My rational is that the shell bone script time was Primitive society, people were equal, only leader, no supervisor. The big seal script time was Slave society, people were not equal, most people were under watched to work.

The small script is


similar to the big seal script.

Its clerical script is


The top has some similarity to character Eye but the bottom has no any similarity to three People at all. The reason why it changed so much is unknown to me.

The current standard printing script for traditional character is


similar to clerical script, but better because the top is Eye, but the bottom is not similar to three People.

The current standard printing script for simplified character is


which are three People, one is on top, two are on the bottom. It is totally different from the older scripts, but it is better. Three people together means Many, doesn't matter if they are under the Sun or under watched. It is a few exceptable simplified characters which are better than their traditional counterparts.

Its Pinyin is "Zhong".

Monday, October 10, 2016

Amazing Chinese Characters (100) Sunrise - 旦

The shell bone script for Sunrise is



The top is the Sun, the bottom is the ocean or the land. The sun rises from ocean or land.

The bronze script is


The top is the Sun, the black bottom is the ocean which connects with the Sun, decribing the moment when the sun rises just from the ocean, gradually leaves the water of ocean.

Its small seal script is


The top is the Sun, the bottom is the ocean or land, but simplified as a horizontal line.

Its current standard printing script is


Its Pinyin is "Dan4".


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Amazing Chinese Characters (99) Shoot - 射

The shell script for character Shoot is


which is a Bow and a Arrow. It is a pictography character.

Its small seal script is


which is totally changed. The left is Body


The right is Chinese Inch


The character means that people shoot through the Body, using hand (the Chinese Inch is a hand with a pointer). It is a ideogram character, in compare with a pictography character of the shell bone script. I don't know why it changed so dramatically.

Its clerical script is


similar to its small seal script.

Its current standard printing script is


same as the clerical script.

Its Pinyin is "She4".

Amazing Chinese Characters (98) Chinese Inch - 寸

The big seal script for Chinese Inch is


a short line under a right hand, which means that a length from the hand wrist to the arm where the line pointing to is one Chinese Inch. It is called indicative character. The short line is like a pointer.

Its small seal script is



very similar to the big seal script one.

Its clerical script is


difficult to find the similarity from this one with the older scripts.

Its current standard printing script is


It is same as the clerical script.

Its Pinyin is "Cun4".