1. It is essential to know their origin, their evolution and to understand the network of characters. Let’s take a simple example with 目, mù. The first graph evoked an eye:
The first sense was of course: eye.
2. 目 is found in many characters, which remain in the same semantic field. Understanding their association allows to better retain the composition. For example :
看 kàn: see. A hand (who was protecting himself from the sun?) at the top and the eye at the bottom:
眉 méi: eyebrows. Eyebrows and an eye :
媚 mèi, flatter, = 女+眉 woman + eyebrow
Originally 媚, meant “raising eyebrows for a woman”. By extension, it gave “to please, to flatter someone”.
盲 máng, blind= 亡, wáng, die + 目, eye.
3. Visualize the network. In order to better “print” the character map, you can draw your own map as you learn:
Note: 目 has kept the meaning of eye for more than a millennium. From the end of the Han era, 眼 took its place as eye, then the trend to pollysyllabic words over the centuries gave two syllables for eye: 眼睛 yǎn jing.
Articles on other families of characters :
12 November 2020