Sunday, 26 March 2017

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 声 | 聲

Our character today is 声 | 聲. We can see that Simplified version 声 is just the top-left corner of its Traditional version - 聲.

To have a good understanding of the character, we need to work with 聲, which is composed of 声, 殳 and 耳.

We have known that 耳 means ear, and 殳 means "holding a stick". What does 声 mean here? We need to seek help from its ancient scripts, as shown below: (Image taken from
evolution history of 声 | 聲
From its Oracle Script , there are four parts:  (声), (耳), (殳) and (口). Some linguist claimed that  is a certain kind of music instrument, which may be made by stones, foris quite similar to 厂. We have learnt that 厂 is drawing of a stone cliff.
 If is a music instrument, then it is a quite reasonable guess that is kind of hangingwith some strings ().

Combining  and , we will have an image as shown below:
Now we are clear about what the Oracle Script represents: hitting () a stone music instrument () while singing (  ) , which is to entertain audiences by hearing (). Or in short,  is "listening to musics / songs in a concert".

Another version of Oracle Script -is simpler: listening () to music instrument ().

When it evolved to Seal Script  was changed toto emphasise the holes in the stone music instrument to differentiate it from normal stones. is already very close to what we have today: 声. And Chinese ancestor considered to be a redundant information while representing the meaning of . That is why has no longer 口.

That is all. 声 | 聲 thus means sound, or music.

As music are pleasing, when we want to say somebody with good reputation, we use 声 | 聲 to describe that. For example 声名远播.

We have done our learning today, it is now our time to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 声 | 聲 inside:
诗情画意, 琴韵书声

Friday, 17 March 2017

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 取

We are going to move aside to a series of  characters related to 耳 before we get back to that of 门 | 門.

Our character today is 取, which is composed of 耳 and 又. As we have learnt before, 又 is a drawing of a hand. So 耳 with 又 means "ear with a hand". What does that mean?

To understand it, we need to know some rewarding rules of ancient army in China. Soldiers shall cut one ear of the enemy he killed in a battle and take it as the proof of his military credit. With those ears, general of the army then know how much reward should be credited to him. That is how 取 was created. 取 originally means "using hand to grab an ear". 

Now we know that 取 means take, get or grab. for example 取得.

It is somehow understandable even without above background knowledge, but with below picture instead:
grabbing ear
To confirm our understanding, let us examine its evolution history (image taken from:
Learn one Chinese Character a day - 取
Looking at its Oracle Script , it is composed with the same elements:  (ear) with a (hand). 
While its Bronze Script made it clearer that its right part is a hand - . It followed the same pattern to its current form - 取.

Below is a Chinese calligraphy with 取 inside for us to enjoy:

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 耳

Before we continue our journey with characters related to 门 | 門, we need to move aside again to prepare ourselves with another character today, which is 耳. To be honest, there is no clue for us to know its meaning with its current form 耳. We will need the help from its ancient scripts: (image taken from
Learn one Chinese Character a day - 耳
Now looking at the Oracle Script , it is actually a drawing of ear, as below:
Its Bronze Script  is still a close drawing of ear of a human being. However at Seal Script period, for ease of writing, it was somehow transformed to be , which is pretty much the embryonic form of our current writing - 耳.

耳 means ear (of any species). for example 马耳.
耳 is also used to mean anything looks like ear. for example 木耳 (which means fungus)

We have finished our study today, let us enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 耳 inside:

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 问 | 問

Today we continue with another character related with 门 | 門, which is 问 | 問. It is very obvious that 问 | 問 is composed with a 口 inside or under a 门 | 門.

What does it mean? Somebody speaks at the door? Let us check the evolution history of 问 to see whether we can get more ideas. Image taken from
Learn one Chinese Character a day - 问 | 問
We can see that there is nothing really changed from its Oracle Script comparing with its current form 问 | 問.

Normally a guest would knock the door and ask host to open the door for him so that he can go inside the house to chat with the host. Below picture shows the concept of 问 | 問:
Christ at Heart’s Door, Warner Sallman
Yes, 问 | 問 was created originally to mean ask.

And it is also extended to mean interrogation.

That is all for 问 | 問, now it is time for us to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 问 | 問 inside: