Thursday, 1 December 2016

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 般

We have learnt 殳. For preparation of studying 盘 | 盤, today we continue our learning journey to 般.

Looking at 般 (pronounces bān), its left hand side is 舟,  which means small boat. And its right hand side is 殳 (pronounces shū), which we just learnt, means "holding a long rod". Now the meaning of 般 is clear: propel a boat by pushing a pole against the bottom of a river, canal, or lake, as shown below:

That is the original meaning of 般 - propel a boat by pushing a pole (carrying people or goods).

To double confirm our observation, let us examine its evolution history: (image taken from
Learn one Chinese Character a day - 般
Oracle script of 般 - is now very clear that hold a pole () by hand () to propel the boat (). Current form 般 still has a very similar representation as its ancient scripts.

While we use small boat - 舟 to carry people or goods to cross rivers, each transportation was called 一般. As boat was normally dedicated to carry either people or goods, 般 was then eventually borrowed to be a Chinese classifier ( which means kind / sort / type. For example 一般 now means "one kind of".

For 般 has been borrowed to mean something else, as they always did, Chinese ancestors then created a new character to represent the original meaning of 般. If you followed our lessons closely and learnt how characters were created after the original one was borrowed to contain extended meanings, you might have known which the new character is?

Now it is time for us to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 般 inside:


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