Monday, July 10, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (161) Voice - 声

The shell bone script for character Voice is


The left and top is a supporter, the middle right is a hhime stone, part of an ancient percussion instrument, the bottom part 口 is mouth. 



The above are chime stones.

The right top is a mallet, the bottom is a hand.

So the character is a picture, a person hits the chime stones with mallet to make music.


Which means Voice, or Sound.

The small seal script for character Voice is


the left top is similar, the right part is similar, but the bottom one is changed from 口 to 


the character Ear, which makes sense too. You either make voice with mouth, or hear voice with ear.

The clerical script for the character is
which is similar to the small seal script, just the side lines don't go very deep. 

The current standard printing script for traditional character is 


which is same or very similar to the clerical script.

The current standard printing script for simplified character is


which is just left top part, actually it is a supporter and a chime stone. The mallet and hand on the right top, and the ear at the bottom disappeared. The character is not very meaningful anymore, it is not a good simplification.

The Pinyin for this character is Sheng1.

I need to point out that the 聲 or 声 (Voice) is exchangible with 音 (Sound) in most of cases. People even put them together as a word 聲音 or 声音,which means Sound or Voice. 

There is a very subtle difference between them, but I don't want to discuss here. 


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (160) Fly - 飛

The big seal script for character Fly is


which is a bird. Some people may ask why the bird means Fly not Bird?

Let's see the big seal script for character Bird


which is a side view of bird when we see a bird standing on a tree.



The character Fly is a bird opening its wings, which we can only see when a bird is flying.



A bird opening wings means Fly, if a bird no opening wings means Bird.

The small seasl script for Fly is


which is very similar to the big seal script one.

The clerical script for Fly is

which is similar to the older script, especially the right part two 飞, which like the bird wings. But the left bottom is not like a wing.

The current traditional standard script for traditional character Fly is


which is almost same as the clerical script.

The simplified counterpart is 


which is a wing of bird, or part of the traditional character of Fly. This simplified character is not as good as the traditional counterpart, but it is not bad because a wing is related to flying.

The pinyin of this character Fly is Fei1.



Monday, June 19, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (159) Sound - 音

The shell bone script for character Sound is


Let's compare it with shell bone script for character Say,


We see there are two more short lines in character Sound, one on the top, and another in the Mouth (口) at the bottom. Both are pointers to tell where the voice is created. The top line is pointing the tip of the tongue, and the short line inside the mouth is telling that the sound is from the Mouth. 

The small seal script for Sound is


Let's compare it with small seal script for character Say,


same as the above, the character Sound has two more short lines, to emphasize where is the sound from.

The clerical script for Sound is
The top part changed to 立,which means Stand Up, nothing to do with voice, or tongue. This change should be caused by simplified writing, which omitted some strokes; or miswriting.

The current standard printing script is

  

almost same as the clerical script.

I need to point out that the character also means Voice sometimes. I will discuss the difference more in post for Character Voice. 

Its Pinyin is Yin1.

Amazing Chinese Characters (158) Say - 言

The shell bone script for character Say is


which is very similar to character Tongue - 舌

both have Mouth at the bottom, and Y. The Tongue has some saliva droplets, but the Say has short lines for saliva. The difference is the top, Tongue has a dot for saliva, but the Say has a horizontal line, which is a pointer to indicate that Say is the sound made by tongue.

The small seal script for Say is


in comparison with the small seal script for Tongue,


the middle horizontal line in Tongue became a upward curve, and there is extra short horizontal line one the top.

The clerical script for Say is


the vertical line in the middle disappeared, but still some similar to older scripts.

The current standard printing script for Say is


Its Pinyin is Yan2.

I want to point out that the character is widely used as a radical in forming new characters, indicating that the character is related to Saying, Expressing, Speaking, etc. 

Amazing Chinese Characters (157) Tongue - 舌

The shell bone script for character Tongue is


the bottom


is the mouth.

the top
Y 

is the tongue.

the three dots are saliva droplets. 

The small seal script for the character is


similar to the shell bone script, but the droplets become a horizontal line.

The clerical script for the character is


still some similarity but the top Y disappeared, making it much less pictography than old scripts.

The current standard printing script is

  

almost same as the clerical script.

Its Pinyin is She2.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (156) Eight and Separate - 八,分

In English, there is no relationship between Eight and Separate, but there is close relationship between Chinese characters Eight and Separate. So I discuss them together.

The shell bone script for character Eight is


which was character Separate originally. We can understand why. One curve stroke on the left and another on the right, just like two separated halfs.

The small seal script for Eight is


similar to the shell bone script but very symmetrical.

The clerical script for Eight is


The current standard printing script is


very similar to its clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Ba1.

The character had been used for number eight as early as 3000 years ago. So people created a new character for Separate. Let's see its shell bone script,


We see the charater is character 八, plus a


which means Knife. Separate is using a knife to cut some thing to two parts. The new character is more like a verb, and original one is more like an adjective.

The big seal script for Separate is


The small seal script for Separate is


All are similar to shell bone script.

Its clerical script is


which has been used since 2000 years ago.

Its current standard printing script is


very similar to clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Fen1.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (155) Teach - 教

The shell bone script for character Teach is


the two XX are counting sticks, the bottom one

is character Child.

On the right is a hand holding a long vertical stick, which is used to beat the child if he didn't pay attention, or did poorly. Even nowadays, many Chinese believe that it is ok to beat kids if they didn't study hard or got bad score in school.

Let's compare this character with character Learn in bronze script


We see two XX for the sticks held by two hands on each side, the middle door-alike is a person's legs, and there is a child on the bottom. It is a picture of a child who is learning how to count, or an adult who is teaching a child how to count.

There is no beating stick, more peaceful picture.

The big seal script is for the character is


the left part is very similar to its shell bone script, the right part changed a little bit on the top.

The small seal script is


very similar to the older scripts.

The clerical script is


the change is huge. On the left, the top is totally changed, the bottom is 子,character Child in clerical script. The right part has some similarity to the older scripts if you see it very carefully.

The Pinyin of 教 is Jiao1.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (154) Think - 思

The big seal script for character Think or Thinking is


The top is head, and the bottom is heart. Ancient Chinese believed that people used head and heart to think. Even though we now know that we use head to think. But western people say "I love you from my heart", heart could feel emotions which are related to thinking.




Its small seal script is



which is similar to the big seal script.

Its clerical script is


The top changed to 田,which means "Field". But it is not from "Field". The inside X became , which could be caused by easy writing, or writing mistake.

The current standard printing script is


which is similar to clerical script.

Its pinyin is Si1.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (153) Cloth - 衣

The shell bone script for character Cloth is


the top is a person's head, the bottom is the cloth. Well, it is not clear. Let's see its bronze script


the top is still the head of a person, and the bottom are cloth with two short sleeves.

Its small seal script is


which changed a little bit, more like a cloth with longer sleeves.


Its clerical script is

 which has changed big, the curve line on the top becomes straight line, the bottom part is difficult to say which is which. It is unclear how it changed to this form.

Its current standard printing script is


which is very similar to the clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Yi1.





Amazing Chinese Characters (152) Order - 令

The shell bone script for character Order is


On the top is a tangue, the bottom is a person kneels down, waiting for an order.

Its small seal script is


The top is same as the shell bone script, but the bottom changed a lot.

Its clerical script is

The bottom is simplified, so it is no similarity to the old scripts.

The current standard printing script for it is


which is almost same as the clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Ling4.