speak chinese like a native

很, 眼, 即, 根, and 跟

Posted by johnb December 6, 2007 in the Group General Discussion .

Today's theme: characters that contain the component 艮.

We'll start with a character that should be familiar to almost every student, [hěn] -- "very." 很 is probably the most common adverb in Chinese, but it's usage is a little tricky, as it often doesn't really mean "very," but is rather just added to a single syllable adjective so that it doesn't seem so lonely out at the end of a sentence. Since it normally modifies other words it doesn't appear in many common words on its own, but it is in the structure 得很 [dehěn], which can be used as a stative verb. Radical: 彳 (60). Components: 彳艮. Strokes: 9.

Our second character of the day is [yǎn] -- "eye." The word "eye" is 眼睛 [yǎnjing], and -- very confusingly, for me at least -- the word for "eyeglasses" is 眼镜 [yǎnjìng] (the difference being only the second character's tone). 眼 can also stand on its own as a verb, meaning "to glance." Radical: 目 (109). Components: 目艮. Strokes: 11.

Third we have [jí] meaning "approach" or "be near." By itself, it can act as an adverb meaning "at present" or "in the immediate future," or as a conjunction meaning "even though" -- though in this meaning it is normally found as 即使 [jíshǐ] or 即便 [jíbiàn] -- both meaning "even, even if/though." It is often found in the compounds 立即 [lìjí] -- "immediately, at once" -- and 即将 [jíjiāng] -- "about to, soon." Note that the funky left half of this character is what 艮 turns into when its on the left side of a character. Radical: 卩 (26). Components: 艮卩. Strokes: 7.

Next, we have [gēn] "root." The character is also a measure word for long slender objects. I remember first seeing this character at a stand that sold sausages (香肠 [xiāngcháng]) for 两块一根 [liǎngkuài yīgēn]. In the meaning of "root," 根 can be both literal -- 树根 [shùgēn] "tree root" -- and figurative -- 根本 [gēnběn] "essence, foundation." Radical: 木 (75). Components: 木艮. Strokes: 10.

Last but certainly not least, we have [gēn], "to follow." In addition to its role of as a verb, it is also used as a coverb meaning "with" (as in 跟他吵架 [gēn tā chǎojià] "argue with him") and a conjunction meaning "and." It also means "heel," as in "high heels" (高跟鞋 [gāogēnxié]). In its meaning of "to follow," 跟 can be found in words like 跟踪 [gēnzōng] -- "to follow, to shadow sb" -- and 跟着 [gēnzhe] -- "to follow in the wake of." Radical: 足 (157). Components: 足艮. Strokes: 13.

Two interesting notes about these five characters. One, they are all the same in both traditional and simplified (sorry Man2Toe!). Two, though they all contain 艮, none of them are listed under that radical (it's always the other part of the character).

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