Welcome to Chinese-forums.com
Since 2003 we've been helping people learn Chinese, study and work in China, find Chinese books, movies or music. We are active, friendly and helpful. Check out recent and popular posts on the home page, see the full forums listing or sign up for free now.
"This forum is a goldmine of information, and I'm so glad it's here!"
"...the kindest, most interesting and most useful help."
Stories in the characters
Posted 01 February 2005 - 04:53 PM
The only one that I can remember now is 园. The old character doesn't look like this.... I can't type it here now though lol. But in the old one there is a 口 a 土 and 2 人 inside of the outside 口. Hmmmm where have I heard this story before? Interesting..
A really cool site that breaks the charathers down is http://zhongwen.com but I'm guessing you all are familiar with it already. :-)
Site SponsorsPleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Mandarin in Beijing Tailored, intensive classes from professional teachers, for real results. Business Chinese
Learn Chinese in China Learn to speak Chinese 1MonthChinese.com -Mandarin School in China.
Improve Your Vocabulary Take your Chinese to the next level with our new vocabulary course.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
ManManLai for iPhone iPhone Chinese learning app - easy to use dictionary, HSK vocab, flashcards, all-in-one.
Posted 01 February 2005 - 05:14 PM
Most of these stories that you may hear about characters usually aren't true... but people tell these stories so that its easier for them to remember what the character looks like.
Posted 01 February 2005 - 07:40 PM
Very true. What's more, zhongwen.com should not be used as a source for etymology. It's a mnemonic device. The author himself says something along those lines in the introduction.
Most of these stories that you may hear about characters usually aren't true... but people tell these stories so that its easier for them to remember what the character looks like.
Posted 02 February 2005 - 07:55 AM
Yes, I think that people tell these stories because it makes it easier to remember but these stories did come from somewhere.
For example 婪 (covetous). I know a story involving a woman being covetous for a tree.
Seems that there are more than a few instances where these stories are from the Bible. It's just interesting to see..
Posted 04 February 2005 - 05:46 PM
Seems that there are more than a few instances where these stories are from the Bible. It's just interesting to see..
This is actually not very surprising. At a certain time Christian missionaries (in their arrogance) believed Chinese were the lost tribe of the Jews and tried with all their might to prove this. Ofcourse they were never able to do so. One of their attempts was to try to look for references towards the bible in the Chinese characters. Well, if you search long enough, and if your mind is twisted enough you will always find things.
Here are some responses to these claims:
(Letter Published in The Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 19, June, 1982)
Comment on The Discovery of Genesis: How the Truths of Genesis Were Found Hidden in the Chinese Language
by C. H. Kang & Ethel Nelson
I read The Discovery of Genesis about one and one half years ago, having borrowed it from a friend; but I was not as much impressed as Mr. Swanson was.  I found a great number of the proposed etymologies to be far-fetched, as, indeed, Mr. Swanson admits they might seem. To me one of the most blatant examples was the statement that the symbol for fire, which is surely a pictogram of leaping flames, was derived from a glorified man, simply because the two signs are somewhat similar. (But the early forms, as shown, were not.) [I cannot reproduce the list of pictograms that was originally printed with this letter, but the early form for �fire� looks nothing like a man, it looks more like a bowl with flames rising out of it. -- Ed.]
These and other signs are shown in the adjacent chart of Chinese Character.
There �M� indicates the Mandarin pronunciation, according to the Wade-Giles romanization: �C� indicates Cantonese, according to the Yale romanization.
Another pictogram, which the book explains as an ideogram, which it is not, is that for clothes. Note the original form. [The original pictogram for �clothes� looks nothing like the later depiction. -- Ed.]
Another fault of the book is that it often ignores the fact that some Chinese characters are phonetic in nature, so that every single element need not contribute to the meaning. I believe that jouh (tsao) is one of these, goru (kao) giving an approximation to the sound, while the radical �go� gives the general class of the word. Again, another meaning of the character for �create� or �make� is �go to� or �reach;� and here the force of the radical becomes apparent.
(I am giving for these Chinese words first the Cantonese pronunciation, with which I am more familiar, then in brackets the Mandarin.)
Laahm (lan), and gam (chin), based on the phonetic lahm (lin) are further examples. Other words containing this phonetic are �gonorrhea,� �elegant,� �heavy� (i.e., rain) and �gem�: and it is hard to see any connection between these and the Garden of Eden. In fact, the reduplication of �tree� does not indication specifically two trees, but a number of trees, as is shown by the character for �woods� or �forest.� In this connection, the sign with three elements means more particularly �forest,� i.e., a large number of trees.
I myself used to cite the character for �ship,� with which I have been familiar for years, as evidence of the Flood. However, Wilder and Ingram state that the character is �of modern construction, not much over 2,000 years ago -- long after the deluge.� They suggest that, rather, it is a fusion of the general character for �boat� and that for �coast.� 
Anyone reading The Discovery of Genesis who is not already familiar with Chinese characters, or has not access to other books on etymology, should be warned that the book is overly speculative...
I do agree that the character for �righteousness� indicates the time when the sacrifice to make me (see chart) righteous was a sheep or goat. Today, at least in southern China, the pig is the large animal most commonly sacrificed. The pig, or course, is an unclean animal in the Old Testament.
I must add here, however, that Wilder and Ingram provide an alternate explanation: that I am righteous when I become lamb-like or peaceable rather than belligerent. [3}
 Swanson, Ralph, 1981. Review of The Discovery of Genesis. Creation Research Society Quarterly 18 (4) : 228.
 Wilder, G. D. and J. H. Ingram. 1974. Analysis of Chinese Characters. Dover Publications. New York. P. 119.
 Ibid., pp. 160-161.
Daniel D. Rees
Received 17 June, 1981
Letter from a Chinese expert on "Genesis and Chinese characters"
I e-mailed someone I found on the web, Mike Wright, whose linguistic qualifications are in speaking about "Genesis and Chinese characters". Here are Mike's qualifications that I copied off of his website, followed by his response to the article at the Answers in Genesis website:
I spent most of my 20 years in the US Army as a translator of Mandarin Chinese and Japanese documents. I have also studied, to a greater or lesser extent, Taiwanese (Holo/Hokkien) Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew, Malay/Indonesian, Vietnamese, Spanish, German, and French. I attended the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center at the Presidio of Monterey, California for 47-week courses in Mandarin (1963), Japanese (1967-68), and Egyptian Arabic (1973). I also spent a year there (1979-80) on a team writing Mandarin extension courses for interrogators. I lived in Taiwan for 20 months (1964-66) and in Japan for 7.5 years (1968-72 and 1976-79). Unfortunately, I didn't get much chance to use my Arabic, so my skills have completely atrophied. I haven't worked as a translator since 1980 and I'm not a linguist, but I'm still fascinated by languages and linguistics. I'm very interested in learning about Chinese linguistics, especially dialectology and reconstructions of earlier stages of the language. I'm also interested in Japanese as it relates to the reconstruction of Chinese. The Chinese dialect that interests me most is my wife's dialect, Taiwanese Holo. I've put up a Web page on the missionary romanization system, which is the most common system used for Holo.
Mike Wright's website
For now, here are a couple of comments on the Answers in Genesis article at
(my comments preceded by ***):
"ShangDi, the Creator-God of the Chinese, surely appears to be one and the same as the Creator-God of the Hebrews. In fact, on of the Hebrew names for God is El Shaddai, which is phonetically similar to ShangDi. Even more similar is the Early Shou pronunciation of ShangDi which is 'djanh-tigh' [Zhan-dai]."
*** This looks a bit garbled. Hebrew "el" means "God", and "shaddai" means Almighty". Therefore, "shaddai" is an epithet for God, not a name of God. On the other hand, "shangdi" is composed of two morphemes, "shang" meaning "top, up, over, above" and "di", meaning "ruler, emperor". "Shaddai" is a single morpheme. It cannot be broken into two morphemes to match the Chinese.
There's little phonetic similarity, even in the modern forms.
Next, it's early Zhou, not "Shou". And the common reconstruction is Karlgren's (_Grammata Serica Recensa_): d^iang tieg (the "d^" being palatalized). Here's how the two compare using ASCII IPA for consistency across languages:
diang tieg: [d^iaN tieg]
Not much resemblance there. ([Zhan-dai] is totally absurd. It looks like an attempt to use Pinyin romanization to render 'djanh-tigh', but it's obviously nonsense. Besides, Pinyin "zh" is a retroflex affricate, [d.S.], which is nothing like the Hebrew sound represented by "sh".)
"The associated box shows some startling realities about the written Chinese language, indicating that we are all related - and not so long ago. All people in the world, not just the Chinese, are descended from the inhabitants of Babel, the first civilization after the Flood. God first gave His promise of a coming saviour, the 'Seed of the Woman', in Genesis (3:15). The foreshadowed sacrifice of the coming Lamb of God, Creator and Saviour, is as old as mankind."
*** The imitation parchment graphic is full of errors (my quotes are from _Chinese Characters_, by Dr. L. Wieger, S.J.):
woman + trees = desire, covet
Nope. The two trees "lin" are phonetic in the compound character, "lan".
serpent + trees = negative, no, not
Nope. It's "two divergent rods which one seeks to tie together".
mouth + tree = restrain
Nope. "To encompass a tree, here taken to mean any object; to tie; to knot."
tree + enclosure (garden) = difficulty
Nope. The original character was a bit different from the modern form, so "Weariness, exhaustion that forces [one] to stop on the way, to sleep under a tree. The modern form represents the same idea, but not so clearly; a camping under a tree." Note that many Southern Chinese languages have a word, also pronounced "kun", that means "to sleep".
hand + lance + me + sheep = righteousness
Nope. There is no hand. Rather, the word for "I" is composed of two lances. "Two weapons in conflict, two rights that oppose one another, my right, and, by extension, my Ego." The sheep has the "Idea of sweetness, of peace, of harmony", thus the full character is "Harmony, good, understanding, peace restored after a conflict; convention concluded after a disagreement, restoring concord and giving satisfaction to the interested parties. Hence all the derived meanings..."
noble person + lamb, sheep = beautiful
Close enough. "A man resembling to the lamb, sweet, gentle, good".
Of course, it's interesting that only the Chinese knew as far back as the 18th century BC that Jesus was going to be sacrificed -- which is the whole point of this little exercise.
AIG deleted web address of article that questioned "Chinese Characters & Genesis"
QUESTION: Why Did AIG delete the URL below? And why doesn't AIG engage the actual article itself instead of this fellow's brief letter?
"This letter comes from...a professing Christian...who...refers to an infidel web site...[which claims] Christians [are] misusing the studies of Chinese writing to show that the Chinese people had a common history with other people, right back to Creation, the Garden of Eden, the Fall and the Flood, etc...His letter is printed entire, apart from a deleted URL (our clearly stated feedback rules do not allow advertising of other web sites)."
Note: I have been searching the web for quite some time and have found many Christian websites that cite the "Chinese Characters" argument. Wouldn't you know that the one website that asks questions concerning that argument is one that AIG will not even publish, even if it is inside a letter sent to them. By the way, I could not find the website that AIG deleted. I will have to ask AIG, though I bet they didn't save it. So I will have to write the author of the original letter to AIG. *smile*
Genesis & Chinese Characters (summary)
Based on the letter I found in the Creation Research Society Quarterly, and the letter from Mike Wright (which I already posted to the group), it would appear that the ability to "discover references to Genesis" in Chinese characters is not very spectacular. It involves 1) Ignoring the shapes of the original oldest forms of each character and instead comparing much more recent ones. 2) Confusing the spoken marks (phonemes)with the ideograms. 3) Sloppy research.
For those who wish to study the matter in depth, I searched Amazon and found some books on the origins of various Chinese characters, what the earliest forms were of each symbol, what they meant, what they came to mean, etc. At the end I am also including two reviews I at Amazon that question the two books that advocate the "Genesis found in Chinese Characters" hypothesis.
Analysis of Chinese Characters (Dover Language Books and Travel Guides) by G.D. Wilder & J.H. Ingram
Reviewer: (ctjb2@c...) from UK
Basically a summary of Wieger's etymological dictionary with a few added proposals by other etymologists. Like "Wieger", it is a very old book (1920s) and only deals with seal characters which sometimes do not show the true origins of characters that have been uncovered since from the bone-shell scripts etc. A good book but I would definitely buy "Wieger" first.
Chinese Characters: Their Origin, Etymology, History, Classification and Signification (Dover Books on Language) by L. Wieger
Reviewer: (ctjb2@c...) from UK
Any serious student of Chinese character etymology must buy this book. It was a pioneering work when produced and 80 years on it is still extremely useful. Its does have a few problems in that its systems for looking up characters are poor and often time-consuming and the romanisation is wade-giles. Also bear in mind that having been written in the 1920s it only deals with seal characters and therefore it does not have some of the most up-to-date etymological research that has since been carried out on bone-shell characters etc. Apart from this it is a masterpiece.
Chinese Characters: A Genealogy and Dictionary
Rick Harbaugh (Editor)
Reviewer: A reader from Illinois
The best thing about this book is that it provides explanations that help the student make sense of the elements in each Chinese character. To the best of my knowledge, these are not made-up fantasies, but based on established Chinese etymologies. But for the student, the important point is that the etymologies assist in committing the characters to memory. Moreover, in addition to the etymologies, the book not only provides examples of the character in compounds, but also includes references to compounds where it appears as the second element, making it an excellent tool for learning new vocabulary. Although it is not primarily a dictionary, the arrangement and indexes mean that one can use it that way. I wish my teachers had taught me in accordance with the explanations in this book when I started studying Chinese 20+ years ago. I still find it useful as an aid to learning characters & their compounds.
BOOKS ADVOCATING THE "GENESIS FOUND IN CHINESE CHARACTERS" HYPOTHESIS
Genesis and the Mystery Confucius Couldn't Solve
by Ethel R. Nelson, Richard E. Broadberry
Reviewer: A reader from VA USA
Hold on there, dudes. Etymology of Chinese characters does NOT prove that they independently developed a prehistory based on Adam & Eve and the Great Flood. The Chinese alphabet evolved much later than Sumerian. Historians already recognize that trade brought not only the idea of writing from Sumer to other cultures but also their prehistory. All we can accurately say is that Sumerian writing and prehistory influenced the development of Chinese writing. That is not the same thing as saying that China preserved its own memory of the same events. Please do read the book, but with a healthy context rather than a wild eyed, unsubstantiated and unsupportable conclusion.
The Discovery of Genesis: How the Truths of Genesis Were Found Hidden in the Chinese Language
by C. H. Kang, Ethel Nelson
Reviewer: A reader from USA
The basic idea, that Chinese characters reflect influence from a source that also inspired Genesis, is interesting. However, one of the writers insists upon couching that idea within the absurdity that everything in Genesis is literally true. She assumes that Babel occurred in 2218 BC. This is sheer nonsense, since Sumer, Egypt, India and cultures of western Europe all had thriving civilizations and separate languages (all of them written) long before that, in some cases more than 1000 years earlier. Another flaw stems from the admittance that one of the words for God entails a triune character set, indicative of the Holy Trinity. Without batting an eye, she claims that this predates Christianity by more than 2000 years. It seems far more reasonable to conclude that it reflects additional characters added to the original Chinese writing during the Christian era, especially since it is one among many words that mean God. Although she claims that the earliest Christian contact with China was in the 7th century AD, that character symbol alone is evidence of an earlier, unrecorded contact. This writer is a close minded creationist who tries to force evidence that doesn't fit into a pet contention. Then she accuses anyone who refuses to accept that heavily disproven idea of being close minded!
Letter from a Chinese expert on "Genesis and Chinese characters"
I have Rick Harbaugh's book He has a Web page at http://www.zhongwen.com/ where you can look up character origins--if you can figure out how to use it, since it's designed for students of the language. He tried out his ideas there before writing the book. We corresponded for a while before the book came out, and he asked me to create a list of Buddhist terminology for him, but my wife's stroke came at about that time, and it put everything else out of my mind for many months.
For those with a more general interest in the nature of Chinese writing and its relationship to the language(s), I recommend _The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy_, by John DeFrancis, ISBN 0-8248-1068-6. This reinforces very strongly that there is a strong phonetic component to the characters. DeFrancis shows that while only about one-third of the character inventory had phonetic components during the time of the Oracle Bones (Shang Dynasty, 1766-1154 BC), this had grown to include 97 percent of the characters by the 12th century AD. It's also worth noting that the Oracle Bones used only 977 characters. This number grew over time:
Shang Dynasty: 977
2nd Century AD: 9,000-10,000
12th Century AD: 23,000-24,000
18th Century AD: 48,000-49,000
As the letter you quoted pointed out, it is necessary to know when a character was invented before making up stories about where it came from.
For an idea of how the pronunciation of earlier stages of the language can be reconstructed, there's a great pair of books by E.G. Pulleyblank, _Middle Chinese: A Study in Historical Phonology_ (ISBN 0-7748-0192-1) and _Lexicon of Reconstructed Pronunciation in Early Middle Chinese, Late Middle Chinese, and Early Mandarin_ (ISBN 0-7747-0366-5). Being textbooks, these aren't cheap. I got mine "used" (but actually brand new) at a great savings through http://www.abebooks.com".
Regarding the last Amazon.com book review you mentioned, do you know the details of the following?
"Another flaw stems from the admittance that one of the words for God entails a triune character set, indicative of the Holy Trinity."
I don't get what that means. Any idea?
I found the URL that AIG deleted -- on "Genesis & Chinese Characters"
I contacted Peter Seebach (known as "Seebs" on the web) He is the one who questioned Answers in Genesis concerning their "Genesis and Chinese Characters Hypothesis," and he informed me:
"I admit to not being exactly an expert, but frankly, the AIG stuff (and everything else dating back to that one horribly ill-considered book) shows a great and consistent lack of comprehension of Chinese etymology; they never once address the question of phonetic radicals, and they have to stretch and insert and remove... It's 50,000 words, of *course* there's a few near-misses."
"I was very disappointed by their response; up until then, I'd been under the impression that AIG were sincere in their interest in pursuing the facts of the case, and using only arguments that hadn't been debunked."
"One point: They are half-right about the 'ba' in the character for 'ship'; depending on who draws the character, it may or may not get drawn that way - but this doesn't matter, since the entire right-hand side of the character is a phonetic radical."
"I wrote a brief summary of this issue at the Internet Infidels FORUM:
It was also discussed in the Science, Creation & Evolution FORUM at Christian Forums:
[AiG responds to Seebs -- 21st August 2002]
[Analyzing crazy eights for seebs -- 30th August 2002]
And in the Talk Origins NEWGROUP:
"Creationism and the etymology of Chinese characters" Date: 2002-05-25
[Below is the same as above, but with the threads of the discussion visible to the left of the screen}
Creationism and the etymology of Chinese characters Date: 2002-05-25
More bogus Chinese character analysis
While searching on "Chinese characters" and trinity, I found the following:
This site is also based on Kang and Nelson, and there are several pages (click the right arrow button at the bottom of each page).
The first Web page isn't bad, but the next five are full of errors. The most obvious error, of course, is analyzing radical-phonetic compounds as though they were ideographic.
However, many components of ideographic compounds are also misidentified. And unitary pictographs are also incorrectly analyzed as ideographic compounds. These last two kinds of errors are made easy by the use of modern character forms, rather than going back to the old seal styles.
One example is the character for "spirit", that includes what Nelson takes to be three "mouth" characters, representing the "three persons" of the Christian Trinity. The character, pronounced "ling", consists of the "rain" radical on top, the three "mouths" in a row below that, and an element referring to magicians/sorcerors at the bottom. Unfortunately, there is an older character, consisting of "rain" at the top, with three circles (not the typical "mouth" character shape) representing raindrops below it. This character is also pronounced "ling", and it is actually the phonetic element in the character "ling" for "spirit. Kinda pathetic, isn't it? You can see this one at the very bottom of:
There seems to be a sort of desperation in this grasping for support--only the most desperate would resort to such patent sophistry.
Another page by Nelson at
includes a footnote that says, "Until 1911, the Chinese emperors celebrated a sacrificial rite very similar to that of the Hebrews. Analysis of the early character forms indicates that the ancient Chinese worshiped the same Creator-God as the Hebrews."
Of course, the sacrifice was to the emperor's ancestors (and the emperor was not the only one to make such sacrifices). Wieger's _Chinese Characters_ has a section on this.
AIG, "other people's" motives, The Tower of Babel, Chinese Characters and Genesis
Why Did AIG delete the URL below? It's always been there.
My fault, poor English, I meant that AIG had deleted the URL in that person's response to them, a URL that dealt with specific arguments employed by AIG but from the angle of asking obvious questions about them. There is no intellectual reasons for doing so. Even the Internet Infidels and the Talk Origins Archive feature links to specific creationist and Christian sites that critique their articles.
How do you expect Rom. 1:18 would be manifested in academic circles? Wouldn't you expect that academic naturalists would resist interpretations of the data that support the biblical worldview?
I have found that people waste far too much time analyzing each other's motives, of course such analyses always result in a conclusion that satisfies each critic but never the person whose motives they are criticizing. (People who do not accept either young-earth creationism or the universal revelatory truth of Rev. 1:18 would of course reply that Evangelical Christians who knew little about the origins and meaning of Chinese characters were drawing "faces in the clouds" with their various hypotheses concerning their origins. Speaking of which have you ran across any of the Moslem websites that feature stores of "discovering" the names of Allah and Mohammed in a line of trees, or in a sliced tomato, or on the side of an Angel fish? And of course Catholics see Jesus and Mary and crosses in window pane reflections, billboards, even oil spills. Believers see what believers see. I am not going to argue with you that non-believers also see what they see. I am however, going to ask you to examine the evidence as I did in all of my posts on this subject so far. The Genesis/Chinese-character hypothesis is far from proven. It is highly disputed and clearly disputable.
I would hardly expect Establishment ethnologists or linguists or etymologists to support an interpretation of Chinese linguistic history that supports Genesis.
As I said above, I am not going to discuss motives. I will discuss particular interpretations of particular Chinese characters. You can of course read the works that were cited to check the history of particular Chinese terms, the evolution of their forms. And you can study the way Chinese characters are composed of both spoken and pictoral characters.
A corollary expectation is that multiple societies *should* have group memories of Genesis events up to Babel. They should, and we find that they do.
If you want to find out about the evolution of languages there are some fine books out there. Languages keep evolving you know. Just compare Old English with modern English.
So far as the story of Babel goes I do not understand why building a great city and tower led to a visit from Yahweh who "came down" to see it, and then decided to "confuse man's langauge" because of it. If that was the case, then what about all the skyscrapers built since then, or the satellites and spacecraft sent up far higher than any tower, all done even WITH our languages being "confused."
I find it both intriguing and sad that so many Christians who claim to honour God's word end up taking the side of naturalists against it.
Interpretation: You find it sad that people do not believe as you do. (Don't we all?) So learn how to communicate with others on their own level. Study Chinese character etymologies, and go ahead and debate the issue, character by character, with someone with whom you disgree, using the same basic textbooks on such matters.
Posted 05 February 2005 - 03:55 PM
Do you know what the word “etymology” means? It means the study of the origin of words. In other words, it means the study of where the words came from. I like to study etymology. It is a science. I like science because it deals with the facts. If a person is going to be wise they will look at the facts.
Etymology is one kind of study we can do to see what was happening when our fathers thought up the words. It tells us what they were thinking, seeing, feeling, hearing, and experiencing at the time that they made the words. It also tells us any messages they wanted to leave us.
The study of the Chinese language is very revealing as the words are “characters,” which are still in the form of pictures. English words come from putting letters from an alphabet together to form a word. Chinese characters are directly from the earliest forms of writing: pictures. So, it is easy to study the etymology of the Chinese words. Additionally, the Chinese nation and language is about 5000 years old. The English language is about 500 years old. To get a more accurate picture of early history, it is good to study the etymology of the Chinese characters.
Some will try to tell us that some of the “strokes” that make up the Chinese characters are without significance. However, this is not true. I don’t think the words were put together randomly and without plan. So, when you look at the Chinese characters, use the approach that every “stroke” is with great significance and study to find the meaning. This takes work and that is why some people will not do it. For example lets look at the Chinese word, garden.
We are going to look at the ancient form of the word because we want to find out what the early Chinese fathers thought when they made the word. This is the Chinese character for the word garden. It is made up of four significant characters and the study of this word tells a very amazing story.
口 This character means surround, enclosure, or protect
土 This character means earth, soil, dust, or dirt.
口 This character means mouth.
This character means two people. The first part of this character shows 亻, a form of writing the word man. It is actually called sideman as it is never used by itself. The second part of this character is the character for man 人on its side . Together they form the character that we see and it tells us a story of two persons，one from the side of the other.
In the Chinese character for the word garden, the ancient Chinese fathers were trying to tell us a story. They wanted to tell us that; when they think of a garden they think of surround, dirt, mouth, and two persons, one from the side of the other. All of this makes little sense unless you research to find the meaning of the story. Why did the Chinese fathers think this? Why did they not think of surround, dirt, water, and sun to make up the character for the word, “garden.” That is what I think of in a garden. Maybe you think of other things. But, why did the Chinese fathers think of what they did?
There is another place in history where there is a story of two people in a garden: the Holy Bible. The Bible is the Word of God (上帝). There are many stories in the Bible. All of them are true. One story is of a beautiful garden called Eden.
The Bible teaches that God (上帝) created (造) the man (Adam) and the woman (Eve) and enclosed them in a beautiful garden. “And the LORD God (上帝) formed man (人) [of] the dust (土) of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (魂),” Genesis 2:7.
In the Garden, God and Adam were friends. The Bible teaches that God created all of the animals. God brought the animals to Adam to see what he would call them. He probably had fun naming the animals and was amazed at how many different animals God could make. Perhaps Adam could not think of any more names for the multitude of animals that God was making; the Bible does not say exactly. Also, I think that when Adam named the animals he always saw a male and a female. Over and over again, this is what he saw. Finally he realized that there was no female for him. Maybe God was teaching Adam what it is like to be alone. Adam had no partner. There was no one who could relate to him. At that time, Adam knew how God felt: alone. There is no one else like God. There is no other God.
God loved Adam. He created Adam because He wanted to love him. God knew that Adam was feeling lonely. God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone.
Then the Bible teaches that God (上帝) caused Adam to sleep. He then took a rib from Adam’s side. From the rib, God formed the woman. God chose a rib because the woman was not to be above Adam or below Adam. The rib showed Adam that this woman was for him because she was a part of him. Then God placed them both in the garden that He had made.
It seems as if the Chinese fathers knew this story. Why not? After all, the Chinese people and language are about 5000 years old. The Bible teaches us that the earth is about 6000 years old. The Chinese written language is the most accurate study of etymology. The Chinese fathers taught us the same story of the Bible. They taught us this story by putting it into their words long before the Bible ever existed as a book.
What is it that the Chinese people know? Is it proof that the Bible is true and that God is real? Is this what the Chinese fathers wanted to pass on to their children? Why do the Chinese people not tell the world? Is this just a coincidence? Perhaps. But, lets be scientific and search for more evidence.
The Bible teaches that God (上帝) created (造) everything. Before God, there was nothing. Many men do not like to hear that. They like to think that there is nothing smarter than they are. True scientists are always in search of knowledge. Because they search, it proves they really don’t believe they know everything. They are telling us they need to learn something. This is good. Why then do some scientist not believe that everything was created (造)? It is because they choose not to believe it? They choose to believe something else. What did the Chinese fathers believe about creation?
The word: create, means to make something out of nothing. We cannot create anything. We can make things but we cannot create anything. We make a cake from flour, water, milk, eggs, sugar, etc. We do not create a cake. Lets look at the word create.
土 Dust, earth, soil, or dirt.
丿 “Pieh”. It means life or movement.
辶 Walking or able to walk.
Here in the Chinese word create; we can see a very special story. We can see what the Chinese fathers wanted us to think of when we used the word: create. They wanted us to think of dust, mouth, life, and able to walk. Now, one must ask himself, “what thing can a man create from dust using his mouth that has life and is able to walk?” Well, of course, man cannot create anything.
The Bible teaches that God created everything, including man. “And the LORD God (上帝) formed man (人) [of] the dust (土) of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (魂),” Genesis 2:7. In the story of the garden we learned that God created man from the dust of the ground, breathed (using His mouth 口) into him the breath of life (丿), and the man stood up and walked (辶). He was not a baby. A baby cannot walk. Only a grown man is able to walk.
It seems as if the Chinese fathers knew this story from the Bible. It also seems as if the Chinese fathers wanted their children to remember this story. Every time their future children would use this word, the Chinese fathers wanted them to remember a special story. Why is this story hidden in the Chinese words? Only God could do such a thing. Or, is this just another coincidence? Lets continue our study.
Now we will continue the same story of the garden looking at more Chinese words. First, lets see what the Bible says: “And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil”, Genesis 2:9. In the Bible, God placed two very important trees in the garden: the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told them that they could eat of any of the trees as they pleased, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He said, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”, Genesis 2:17. God had given them a very special warning. He warned them because He loved them. He told them that the day they eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they would die.
The word: forbid means to command (someone) not to do something. It means to warn, prohibit, restrict, or prevent. God did not want them to die. He created them to live. Up until this time, they only had knowledge of good. They did not know evil. They only knew God’s love. Lets look at the Chinese word.
林 Two trees.
示 This is one of the “radicals” for the word God. Literally it means: proclaim, manifest, exhibit, reveal. This character is an abbreviated form of the word “God”. When the hook is added on the bottom, a verb is formed.
From this word we can see that the Chinese fathers wanted to tell us something. When we are to use the word: prohibit, forbid, warn, restrict, or prevent; they wanted us to think about God (上帝) telling us something about two trees. They wanted us to remember so much that they put the story into the common written language that is still used today.
Why did God place the two trees in the middle of the garden? Why didn’t He just put the tree of life? The Bible teaches us that God made man in His image. Of course, this does not mean that we all look alike. We are made with a body, soul, and spirit. Unlike the animals, we have the ability to love, communicate, and reason among other things. Love is not an emotion as many people think. Love is an action. It is something you chose to do. It is something you must decide to do. God made us with the ability to love because He wants us to be able to love Him, like He loves us. So God placed two trees in the Garden so the man could chose to love God. If the man had no choice, then he would be forced to love God and that would not be love at all. It would be duty. God didn’t make us to force us to obey Him. He made us so we could chose to obey Him out of love. This is what makes us different from all animals.
God warned the man and woman not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He only wanted them to know how to do good things. He loved them. He did not make their decision for them. He does not make anyone love Him. He gave the man an outlet for his natural ability to love. The Chinese fathers knew this and handed the message down to their children. What is it that the Chinese people know that they are not telling the world?
Life in the garden was perfect. God cannot do anything that is not perfect. Adam and Eve were the friends of God. They loved Him and He loved them. But, one day the devil came to the garden. The devil hates God. The Devil wants to hurt God. He is not stronger than God and cannot fight Him. The devil is very clever. He hurts the people that God loves. Then, because of God’s love, God himself will be hurt. The devil does not care for anyone or anything except hurting God. He wants to ruin mans friendship with God. He wants to get man separated from God. He wants man’s relationship with God to be dead.
The word “death” means to be separated. If I were to die right now, I would be separated from my loved ones. I would be separated from you. I would be separated from my body. The part of me that loves, cries, hates, ect. Would leave my body.
In the garden, God warned (禁) Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree because if they ate, that day, they would die. God meant they would be separated from Him. They would be dead to Him. Their relationship would be dead.
If you had a friend that suddenly started being friends with your enemy and stopped seeing you, your relationship would be dead. It would hurt you in your soul (魂). Your friend would suddenly be your enemy. Why? Your friend became your enemy because they chose to be.
The Bible teaches that the Devil came to the garden secretly in the form of a serpent. He spoke to Eve about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Lets look at the Chinese word.
丿 Pieh means motion or life.
田 Field or garden.
儿 Man or son.
厶 Secretly or private.
We can see that the Chinese fathers wanted us to think that the Devil moved (丿) into the garden (田) in the form of a serpent to speak privately (厶) to the woman with the voice of a man (儿).
The Bible teaches that the Devil is a tempter. He made Eve doubt God’s word. He told her that she would not surely die. He told her that God knew that the day she ate of the tree, she would be just like God. She would know good and evil. She looked at the tree and saw that it looked good. He tempted her.
林 Two trees.
广 Cover or covering.
The Chinese fathers knew of this story. One must answer the question: “why does the words; Devil, two trees, and cover mean tempter?” There is only one place where this story is found: the Bible. If one looks closer at the character, one will see that the devil is under the two trees. This shows that he was hiding under the cover of the two trees.
In the Bible story the Devil told the woman, “…Ye shall not surely die:” Genesis 3:4. He was telling her a lie. The Devil knew that her body would not immediately die. He knew that her soul would not ever die. But, he also knew that she would immediately die spiritually. So, he was talking to her about her soul but he was not telling her the whole story.
云 To say or says.
Here in the Chinese character for soul we can see that the Chinese fathers wanted us to remember; Devil and says. When we think about our soul they wanted us to remember that the Devil said something about it. This is true and is the exact story of the Bible.
God was talking about our spirit when He said they would die immediately. The Devil was talking about the soul when he said that they would not die. What actually happened?
God told them that they would die immediately. He meant that their spirits would die and He would take His spirit from them. This is separation from God, spiritually.
Their bodies would begin to die. Some day in the future, their souls would get out of their bodies and go to stand before Him. This is separation from their bodies physically.
That their souls would never die is partly true. Their soul is where we have our nature to obey or disobey; to love or hate. If we choose to disobey or hate God, then God calls that sin. God meant that if their souls came to stand before Him with sin, He would put their souls in a lake of fire where they would live forever. This would be separation from God eternally (forever). God calls this death; the second death. When their souls stood before God, He would know that there was sin because He would not see His Spirit.
This is what the Devil wanted. He wanted the man and woman to be separated from God forever. He did not want God to be obeyed or loved. He did not want God to have anything to love other than him. He was jealous.
God placed two trees in the garden. He knew that the man could not love unless he could choose to love. But, God did not leave them to themselves. He warned them and instructed them about how to choose. He did it because He loved them.
Eve was listening to Satan (鬼) and believing him. She was starting to doubt what God said. She looked at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She wanted to be like God. She wanted to have knowledge. When she looked at the tree of knowledge of good and evil, she began to covet (渴望).
To covet is to want something very much. She wanted to taste from the tree. I can imagine the Devil telling her, “Come on Eve, it won’t hurt you. See, I am not dead. God just wants you to be like Him. You can make Him happy. Doesn’t the fruit look sweet. Any fruit that looks that good cannot be bad for you. Just a little will not hurt. Eat some Eve”.
林 Two trees.
The Chinese fathers wanted us to think of two trees and woman when we think of the word covet. Why would they want us to think of two trees and woman? There is only one place where the answer to that question lies: in the Bible; in the story of the Garden of Eden. I think the Chinese fathers wanted to leave a message to the world. The most important message to them was a special story of a garden (園).
Eve looked at the tree. She then made a choice. She made her own choice. She chose to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She chose not to trust God. She chose to believe that she could become like God. She chose to disobey. She sinned. When she did this, something new on the earth began that was not here before: sin. This was a new beginning: The beginning that man brought into the world.
厶 Secret or private.
Here in the Chinese word for beginning we can see a message that the Chinese fathers wanted to tell us. They wanted to tell us that beginning had something to do with a woman doing something secretly or privately with her mouth. By itself, one could think it is a coincidence. But, put together to tell the whole story of the garden, the pieces just keep fitting. Science is an accurate study of the facts. What is being presented here are FACTS.
Yes, Eve brought a new beginning: the beginning of sin. Sin is the bad things that we do that make God unhappy. Sin makes God sad. Sin makes God angry. Sin separates us from God. God loves us but He hates sin.
When a child does something wrong, the parents are angry. They are really not angry with their child. They love their child. At what are they angry? They are angry at what the child did. They are angry at the child’s attitude. As long as the attitude remains, there is a division (separation) in the relationship of the child and parent. But, when the child asks the parents to forgive him, the relationship is repaired. Why? The relationship is repaired because the sin (attitude) is gone. There is fellowship again.
Sin always separates. It brings pain, sorrow, and distress. It destroys relationships. Sin always comes from not obeying God. It comes from choosing to do things our way and not God’s perfect way. Sin comes from not choosing to believe and trust in God.
林 Two trees.
疋 A piece or a part of.
The Chinese fathers are telling us that sorrow is a part or a piece of one of two trees. Clearly, this fits into the story of the garden. One must do a thorough study to see the whole story. To look at one section is not to see the story. That is why the Chinese people can use these words every day and not get the message. One must know the story. To read the Bible, is to gain much wisdom and knowledge. Today, men know how to do evil. So we must now learn how to do good. This can only be understood by reading the Bible.
In the garden, Eve came to Adam. He noticed that something was not right. He noticed that she was different. He knew what she had done. Adam was now faced with a new choice. His choice was between two people that he loved. If he chose to be with God, he would be separated (dead) from Eve, his wife. If he chose to be with Eve, he would be separated (dead) from God, his Creator. The Bible teaches that Adam chose to be with Eve. He ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He was not tempted by the Devil. He was not lied to. He chose Eve because his love for her was greater than his love for God. This made God the saddest.
The Bible says that when they had eaten, their eyes were opened and they knew that they were naked. Before that time, Adam and Eve were both naked, but not ashamed. They did not know how to think evil. Everything was perfect. They did not know that it was wrong because, at that time it was not wrong. Now it was wrong. They wanted to hide. They wanted to cover themselves.
The Bible says that God came to the garden to talk with them like He always did. They were afraid. They made clothes from the leaves of fig trees to cover their bodies. They were really trying to cover their sin. But, sin is in the heart. God always looks at the heart. They could not hide their sin.
几 Is (nearly, practically, almost)
木 Tree. The hook at the bottom of the tree represents a foot and tells, “to come” (from behind the tree).
The Chinese fathers wanted to teach us that the word hide means; somebody tried to make their body look like a tree. This is exactly what Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. A coincidence? I don’t think so.
The Restored Relationship
Adam and Eve had a big problem. They had sinned and were hiding from God. God had found them and asked them what they had done. He already knew what they had done. He was giving them a chance to ask for forgiveness. Eve blamed it on the serpent. Adam blamed it on Eve. They were already starting to do evil. They knew that they were not friends with God anymore. They were spiritually dead. God had removed His spirit from them immediately. Why?
God is a Spirit and He is perfect. He could not allow sin to touch Him because: if He got a little bit of sin on Him, He would not be perfect anymore. He wanted to hug and hold them but could not because of sin. He had to push sin away from Him. As long as they had a sin problem, God could not be together with them. Death means separation: Life means together. They were dead to God. Some day in the future their bodies would die and their souls would stand before God. As much as He wanted to, He would not be able to accept them because of sin. They were separated from life.
God loved Adam and Eve. He did not like to be separated from them. He told them to take off the leaves of the fig tree. God then killed an animal; A perfect, sinless, innocent animal. He took the skins of the animal and made coats for Adam and Eve to put on. If they were to cover themselves with the skins, then they would be acceptable to God. God could hug them and the sin would not get on Him. The sin would get on one side of the skins. The other side - the part that God would touch - would be clean.
They did not understand how the skins would cover their sins. They only knew that they wanted to obey and trust God so they put on the skins. When they did this, they became right with God. God’s word for this is righteousness. From that time on, every time they wanted to be (righteous) with God, they would kill a sheep or lamb.
我 I or me.
Here we can see that the Chinese fathers wanted us to know that if we were to be right like God is right, it was going to involve “I” and “a lamb”. It is interesting that the word is “I”. It is not he, she, us, or we, but “I”. That makes it personal. A closer look at the character will reveal even something more interesting. Notice that the lamb is on top of “I”. You could say that the lamb is “covering - I”. This is exactly what God taught us in the Bible. When the lamb was their covering, they would be right (righteous) with Him.
Posted 05 February 2005 - 05:42 PM
It also tries to do this "etymology" on the modern character forms, which are different from their original forms. For instance the "丿 Pieh" stroke in the character 造 doesn't actually appear in the older forms of the character.
The whole thing that vinhlong posted right above your post actually does a pretty good job of refuting stories like this.
Posted 13 May 2005 - 04:18 AM
I have a strong belief in the Bible and a strong love for truth.
Initially I believed some of these etymologies.
On the surface many of these stories seem feasable, but a deeper study shows that the stories are at the very least mostly fanciful.
As nice as the stories sound, they really do nothing to help Chinese people learn about the Bible when they see these fanciful stories attached to characters.
I have seen websites that really go into this in detail, but it's just not true.
Posted 09 May 2006 - 01:36 PM
But that said, there are a few that I had found on my own before I even found that others had researched this type of etymology.
For instance the character 義 - 我 (I or me) + 羊 (sheep or "The Lamb") = 義 (Righteousness)
First of all let me say that I have researched the roots of this character as far back as I can and it is recorded as far back as 續甲骨文编 or the Oracle Characters.
That far back the character is as clearly two parts "I or Me" and "Lamb or Sheep" as it is today. If you would like to see it go to:
or if the link doesn't work you can go to http://www.chineseetymology.org and look up the character 義
In my mind, and I believe in almost any reasonable persons mind, there is no logical explanation for that combination other then that found in the Old Testament.
During Old Testament times, an individual would make recompense with god by sacrificing a lamb to cleanse him or her self and become clean or "righteous."
For historical note: That was later changed when Jesus Christ (commonly referred to as "the Lamb" or "The Lamb of God") died for all of us (even "Me") so that we would have a chance to overcome our sins and become a righteous, but only by accepting Him and using his sacrifice (or Atonement) to become "At one" with God in a state of "Righteousness." (or in other words 義)
Clearly this character shows this combination not only coincidently together but clearly in a manner that the 我 character almost looks like it is holding "the Lamb" up to god. (see the previous link - most of the characters from the 金文编–Bronze Characters)
I would challenge anyone to come up with any other explanation that is more logical or feasible than that.
By the same means of research, I have come to the conclusion that for the character 園, I don't feel I can draw clear enough conclusions from the evidence I have seen to date.
You need to realize that just because you don't like religion or have a grudge because your parents made you go to church, doesn’t mean its not true!
I know God lives!
Jesus is the Savior!
And I don't need some Chinese character to tell me that!
But because I know that God lives and spoke to our oldest ancestors face to face, it is no wonder to me that some of the earliest records on earth show us evidence of that happening.
Take from what I said what you wish to, but remember this, some have diluted the truth with lots of meaningless lingo, but that doesn't change the truth! It only makes it that much more important to go and find it!
Posted 09 May 2006 - 01:44 PM
1 user(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users