Hands + writing + character = ?

Children’s serie, xué, 学-學, study, learn.

A first spelling showed two hands drawing/writing and underneath a room :

Chinese character.

Former meaning: school. The idea is logical :

A later spelling added the child, which remained. The meaning became more precise: a child practicing drawing/writing characters.

étudier en chinois

The simplified form used today in mainland China has retained only part of the top. The simplified character is on the left, the traditional on the right:


Articles on characters categorized by radical:

Radical arrow 矢

Radical child 子

Radical eye 目

Radical heart 心

Radical illness 疒

Radical 巳

2 August 2020

Roof + child = ?

The origin of 字, zì, character, has several versions.
One sees the roof under which the child is born because one of the first senses is “born”.

Another explanation: the Elders believed that children should learn the characters “inside”. Older people have more difficulty. As early as Zhou 1100- 256 B.C, upper-class children entered school at the age of eight.

The choice is yours!

Article on character, sorted by radical:
Radical arrow 矢

Radical child 子

Radical eye 目

Radical heart 心

Radical illness 疒

Radical 巳

1rst of August

Child + stake = stability

存 cún, exist, subsist
The ancient spelling suggests the image of a child on the right leaning on a stake: cun 存 exist ancient spelling.
An idea of stability emerges that we find in the sense of exist and subsist.

This connotation can be found in : 保存 bǎo cún, conserve, preserve, 存活 cún huó, survive and 存在 cún zài, exist.

Articles on characters:
Radical arrow 矢
Radical child 子
Radical eye 目
Radical illness 疒
Radical 巳

24 July 2020

Man + child + hands = ?

Children’s series 子

保, bǎo, defend, protect. An ancient spelling shows two hands carrying the child, and a adult next to it. The idea is the protection of a adult.

保 low Chinese character protect ancient spelling

The character 保 can be found in 保证, bǎo zhèng, guarantee, insurance or 保险, bǎo xiǎn, insurance.

Articles on characters, classified by key:
Radical arrow 矢
Radical child 子
Radical eye 目
Radical illness 疒
Radical 巳

23 July 2020

How can we remember 子 and 孔?

Before starting on the composition with the much-used 子 zǐ, let’s go back to its origin. We had seen that 巳 had for origin a writing which represented a foetus, see here.

巳 early spelling

The ancient spelling of 子 shows a close idea, a head with a body and arms:

ancient child Chinese spelling of the character 子

子 zǐ means child, youth. No wonder!

When 子 is placed on the left, its line is no longer horizontal, but starts a little lower and goes upwards as in 孔, kǒng.

孔, kǒng, hole, opening.
In the old spelling, we can see the child on the left in front of its mother’s breast to drink her milk. The idea of a hole comes from the mouth, opening, of the child ready to drink; some people think that it is rather the hole in the breast from which the mother’s milk flows.

hole in chinese

How to remember the character 包, to include, to wrap ?

One of the methods to learn and remember characters is to use radicals. Let’s look at the beginning of life.
The first spellings of sì 巳 make us think of a head with a limbless body, like a fetus

.Chinese character foetus

Thus, characters with 巳 concerning the child will take shape, like carrying or wrapping a child, bāo 包.
The ancient spelling:

chinese character 包

The character can make you think of a mother wrapping a child bending over.


包 by extension means to wrap, contain, include and associated with other characters to form words of the same lexical field as package, 包裹, bāoguǒ and packaging, 包装, bāozhuāng.

Please note: One of the meanings of 巳 is an old time, 9 to 11, was that the best time to feed the child?

See other articles on Chinese language here.

21 June 2020