Monday, 21 May 2018

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 立

before we continue with our next character related to 犬, today we study another brand new character first - 立. Simple character like 立 is usually harder to guess its meaning as there will be much less clues available.

Let us see whether its ancient scripts can help us or not. (image taken from:
Evolution history of 立
it's Oracle script is composed of two parts, upper part is the Oracle script of 大 (details can be reviewed at, which originally means adult; and its lower part is a horizontal line .

so 立 was created with the original context of "a big adult standing on the ground", as shown below, from which many different meanings have been developed:
naturally 立 means standing up, for example 站立.

stand up normally means for person, what if we make something to stand up straight? thus 立 has been used to mean "setup something upward", for example 竖立.

and Chinese ancestors did not stop here. recall that 大 has the meaning of big, 立 thus contains the meaning of "something big and obvious has been put up which is known to many people". in English, it is very close to establish or found, for example 立功, and 立国.

remember what we have learnt 天? 天 is actually a drawing of sky (一) above people (大) while 立 is a drawing of people (大) standing on earth (一).  I think it is then quite naturally in Chinese to describe heroes with some idiom like: 顶天立地.

As time passes, we can see that its clerical script  transformed a lot to lose the shape of 大 and eventually is finalized as 立.

before ending our lesson today, let us enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 立 inside:
With the understanding of 立, maybe we can know what 位 means already?

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