Chinese mnemonics and annotator

Entries in system "Explanation of characters by Herbert A. Giles"

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San is an ideogram, as also are 一 i one, 二 êrh two, and the archaic 亖 ssŭ four, for which 四 was substituted at an early date. Odd numbers are regarded as male, even numbers as female.
Tzŭ is composed of 子 tzŭ child and 宀 mien an obsolete character meaning shelter, the former having here the double function of radical or indicator of sense, and of phonetic or indicator of sound. The word originally meant to suckle,—a child beneath a roof; later on, to betroth a girl. It came to be used in the sense of written character under the First Emperor according to some, and according to others about a century later in the famous history by 司馬遷 Ssŭ-ma Chi'en. Previous to that date the characters 名 ming and 文 wên had been used.
Ching is composed of radical 糸 mi five strands of silk as spun by the silkworm, now generally read ssŭ like the duplicated form, and an obsolete phonetic. It originally meant to weave, the warp of a web, and came to be applied to canonical works or classics, thus offering a curious analogy with our own word text. Strictly speaking the property of the Confucianists, it was borrowed by the Buddhists as a suitable equivalent for sûtra (= threads) or that portion of the Canon which contains the actual utterances of Shâkyamuni Buddha. It was subsequently adopted by the Taoists , and has also been employed by Roman Catholic missionaries in their dignified rendering of Bible.
Jen is a picture of the object,—Shakespeare's forked radish. Like all Chinese characters, it is the expression of a root idea, humanity, collectively and individually; and its grammatical functions vary in accordance with its position in a sentence and the exigencies of logic.
Chih originally meant to issue forth as grass from the ground; and by extension, to meet, to arrive at. It has come to be used conventionally as a sign of the possessive case, a particle of subtle influence, and a demonstrative pronoun; also, from its shape, = zigzag.
Ch'u is composed of 刀 tao knife as radical, and 衣 i clothes (衤 in combination), and is said to derive its meaning from the application of a knife or scissors to a piece of new cloth.
Hsing is composed of 心 hsin heart as radical (忄 in combination) and 生 shêng as phonetic. It means the moral nature, disposition, temperament, with which man is endowed at birth. Heart is used as being the seat of the moral and intellectual faculties.
Pên is composed of 木 mu a tree as radical, and a horizontal line to indicate locality. It is much used in the sense of fundamental, original, native, etc.

Shan was originally composed of 羊 yang sheep and 言 yen words doubled. The latter portion has been corrupted, and the character is now classed under radical 口 k'ou mouth. It is noteworthy that sheep enters into several characters referring to excellence, duty, property, etc.

Hsiang is composed of 目 mu eye as radical and 木 mu tree , and originally meant to peer, to scrutinise. It is explained in the Canon of Changes as inability to see through trees, hence to look at; which may be compared with the derivation of lucus a non lucendo. In this sense it is now read hsiang4. Read hsiang1, it means mutual, reciprocal; but it is often a complementary particle of very elusive value, signifying direction towards anybody or anything.
Chin is composed of 斤 chin an axe-head, a Chinese pound weight (= 1⅓ lb. av., probably adopted from the weight of the axe-head) as phonetic, and the contraction of an obsolete word 辵 cho (辶 in composition) meaning to go on and stop as radical. The latter is commonly seen in characters dealing with movement, and is popularly known as the walking radical.
Hsi is composed of 羽 feathers as radical and 白 pai white, and seems to have been associated with young birds practising flight.
Yüan is composed of the walking radical and a common phonetic.
Kou is composed, under its modern form, of 艸 ts'ao vegetation (艹 in composition) as radical, and 句 chü crooked as phonetic. It commonly means if, if only, etc.
Pu is supposed to be a picture of a bird which is circling in the air and will not come down, the upper line representing the sky.
Chiao is composed of 孝 hsiao filial piety as phonetic and an obsolete radical meaning to tap.
Nai was originally a picture of vapour struggling forth. It is now a conjunctive and disjunctive particle, with other and more unusual values, demonstrative and possessive.
Ch'ien is composed of the walking radical and a phonetic which means to ascend. The whole character originally meant to ascend, then to move from a given position, a departure from the norm, etc.
Tao is composed of the walking radical and 首 shou head. It originally meant that which passes through, a road to be walked upon, and then by extension a road or method to be followed, as in philosophy, and even in stealing. Hence Taoism, the Doctrine of the Way, as taught by Lao Tzŭ , in antagonism to the Way taught by Confucius. 道人 tao jen was a term for Buddhists down to the end of the 5th cent. A.D., and Mr. T. W. Kingsmill has identified tao with the Buddhist mârga, the path which leads to Nirvana.
Kuei is composed of 貝 pei, a picture under its old form of a pearl-oyster, once a circulating medium in China; hence, precious, honourable, as radical, with a corruption of 臾 k'uei4 a basket as phonetic.