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Say It Right Series

"character sanity" or 中文 outside-in

Posted by bill December 7, 2007 in the Group General Discussion.

大家好!Hello everyone. What do I mean by "Chinese outside-in?" Any idea? [PAUSE]

When one learns a language that is not ones maternal language, then one often sees things in that language that the native born speakers miss. Children learn sounds and bind them to actions and objects. For example: 汽车。When I first saw that word I immediately thought about a Stanley Steamer. After all it is a "steam vehicle or cart." The traditional character to me "looks like" an axle with a wheel, or a cart with an axle and two wheels.

In this discussion what a character "looks like" will have significance. Characters really are more often than not syllables. And in Mandarin both the syllables and their combinations have a depth of meaning and beauty.

I recall first coming across 星期 or week. I was blown away. Star+period of time. 星 alone is the birth of the sun, and 期 contains 月。An immense amount of meaning in a single word for week. It's really a small poem, it's elegant as well as scientific.

Must last example was discovered when I was looking at Mandarin words relating to the sea. 高潮 or high tide. Check out tide: The radical is 水, and there is also 月。Again, the knowledge of the moon causing water to move. So, I then stumbled upon 性高潮 or orgasm or climax. This is sex high tide. Wow! Can it be better expressed?

This is the direction of this Forum. Looking at the poetic beauty of Chinese characters.

Do any of you have a favorite you'd like to share?



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