Say It Right Series
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Character etymology for newbie "street argument" 不

Posted by mandarinboy September 9, 2008 in the Group General Discussion.

Tags: bu, not, etymology

Even though the logic behind is unclear, there are some lovely attempts on explanations.
It is also very very frequent in Chinese.


Character: 不

Pinyin: bù

Grammar note: The word "bu" is 4th tone, but when it is followed by another 4th tone, it becomes 2nd tone.

Meaning: no, not; un-; negative prefix

HSK level: 1 (basic)

Frequency: 3

Strokes: 4

 

 

 

Radical part: 一

Stroke order: http://www.yellowbridge.com/chinese/character-stroke-order.php?searchChinese=1&zi=%E4%B8%8D

Etymology: The original shape:

 

Is a bird flying towards the sky and disappearing from sight, as if becoming nonexistent. Another explanation is the bird trying to reach its destination but the sky is blocking the path and hence the bird will not reach the destination. My favorite explanation though is this. The top is not the sky but the ground. The part under the ground is the roots of a plant. When growing e.g. rice we do not want the roots but the rice so the things under the ground is not wanted.

 

 

Example words:

不同 bùtóng different; not the same; not alike
不久 bùjiǔ not long (after); before too long; soon; soon after
不错 búcuò correct; right; not bad; pretty good
不但 búdàn not only
不要 búyào don't!; must not

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