Etymological explanations tell us that the radical on the left 犭, dog or wolf, means suspect like a dog or a wolf. 青 sometimes has the sense of black, it evokes the idea of someone who has a hidden secret. The original meaning was doubt, not to trust. Later, 猜 took on the meaning of guessing. The connotation of doubt can be found in 猜疑, cāi yí, to suspect.
猜 = 犭+ 青 = suspect like a dog or a wolf + black, secret.
Originally, the character on the left was not the sun, but the moon, and the part on the right represented growing grass – see the picture on the left below. The sun later took the place of the moon. 青 has the meaning of blue. It is used to evoke a blue sky. The sense of clear, bright, clear weather has thus imposed itself.
晴 = 日+ 青, sun + blue
晴 is in female first names. For example, a mother named her daughter 雨晴 (rain and shine). It rained before the birth, shortly after the sun showed up. Great story!
请, 請 qǐng， please, solicit. 请 = 言/讠 + 青 Some texts tell us that 青 is sometimes the abbreviation of 情, feeling, emotion (seen here). So 青 does not only have a phonetic value. The meaning 情 brings a connotation that we find in the request or invitation made with feelings. 请, 請 = speech + feeling 请 is the simplified character, 請 the traditional one.
Let us recall that the Tchin-Tchin, comes from this character 请, see the work of Jacques Pimpaneau, “La célébration de l’ivresse,” “In China, drinking is accompanied by rules which imply that people do not dare to drink and that they must be encouraged to do so, which is not the case in the West. This is not the case in the West. The master of the house must first invite his guests to drink; it is also customary not to drink alone. One or more guests are then invited to join him by raising his cup to them and saying ‘please’ (qing qing). This is how a Chinese word is passed on in English. The expeditionary force soldiers who had fought in the Chinese campaign under Napoleon III came back saying that when the Chinese drank, they said tchin-tchin, and the expression spread.”
情，qíng，sentiment, emotion 情 = 忄 + 青. It is usual to see in this association the heart （in composition it can be written 忄) and 青 qing, phonetic element. Certainly, 青 gives the pronunciation. When we remember that 青 also means young, we can make the connection between youth and feelings, the ardour of the feelings of youth. At the same time, this way of looking at the structure of the character helps to remember the composition better.
A reader asked me about 青, which is present in many characters. Various explanations are circulating about its origin. One seems to be quite interesting.
Some characters with spelling close to 月, like 舟 and 丹, have disappeared from some character structures to become 月. A desire for aesthetics or fluidity with the brush has brought about these changes.
It is necessary to look at 丹,dān, red, vermilion, cinnabar. A first shows shows a frame in which ore was put to heat it and “dye” it in vermilion. The ancients believed that they could achieve immortality with this stone.
青, qīng, blue or green, young.
The top of the ancient writing represents growing herbs: Underneath, 丹 takes the handwriting from 月. It is the frame in which the herbs are dyed green (colour of the herbs). By extension, the idea of lush and young.
In the next articles, we will explore the compositions, such as 情, 晴,请, 淸, 精, 静, 睛, 婧.