speak chinese like a native

拦, 藻, 羽, 园, and 王

Posted by johnb December 2, 2007 in the Group General Discussion .

We'll start the day with [lán], "to block (the way)." Though according to the dictionary it's used in a lot of compounds, none of them are very common. Instead 拦 is normally used as a verb all by itself, like: 你干嘛拦着我不让我过去? Radical: 手 (64). Components: 扌兰. Stroke Count: 8.

Next, we'll get the day's difficult character out of the way. [zǎo], strangely enough, means both "algae" and "literary elegance." I'm not really sure how those two meanings got bundled into the same character, but thus are the joys of Chinese. Some words using the "algae" meaning of the character are 海藻 [hǎizǎo] -- "kelp" -- and 蓝藻 [lánzǎo] -- "blue green algae," the stuff that keeps breaking out in Lake Tai on the border of Zhejiang and Jiangsu Provinces. In the second meaning, there's 辞藻 [cízǎo], which means "ornate dictation" -- in English, I believe it's a matter of putting stuffing a lot of words into just a few ideas. Radical: 艸 (140). Components: 艹澡. Stroke Count: 19.

I promise the next three won't be that complex. Fourth we'll take on [yǔ], which means "feather." That word in modern Chinese is 羽毛 [yǔmáo]. By extension, my wife's favorite sport is literally "feather ball" -- 羽毛球 [yǔmáoqiú], "badminton." Radical: 羽 (124). Components: 习. Stroke Count: 6.

Where better to play "feather ball" than a [yuán] -- "garden" or "park." This character is found in lots of words that, in English, end in either "garden" or "park" -- i.e., 公园 [gōngyuán] -- "public park" -- and 花园 [huāyuán]. In fact, even its less literal meanings follow the English word "park" pretty closely, i.e., 工业园 [gōngyèyuán] -- "industrial park." Radical: 囗 (31). Components: 囗元. Stroke Count: 7.

Finally, we have [wáng] -- "king." In addition to this meaning, 王 is also one of the most common Chinese surnames. In compounds, it normally means some sort of ruler or leader, such as in 国王 [guówáng] -- "king" -- and 霸王 [bàwáng] -- "tyrant." Radical: 玉 (96). Components: 三丨. Stroke Count: 4.

Today's special mission is to figure out what's special about the character 王. There's something about it that's very rarely seen in Chinese characters.

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