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Most easily mistaken Chinese character


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戌, 戊, 戍

I am ashamad to admit that I am still not too sure on how to pronounce (even in Cantonese) the above words if they come out individually.

In Cantonese, we say 橫戌(恤), 點戍(恕), 戊(務)中空. In Putonghua, it would be 橫戌(xu1), 點戍(shu4), 戊(wu4)中空. And two of these three confusing characters appear in the term 戊戌政變 (aka 戊戌/百日維新).

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覃 (qin2) <---- Surname

覃 (tan2) ...

no difference between characters' date=' but two different pronounciations.[/quote']

Well if these are also taken into account then it would be very complicated.

Take a most common word 樂. It is le4 when it means happy; yue4 when it means music (and both are surnames); and yao4 when it means enjoy (e.g. 敬業樂群; 仁者樂山, 智者樂水). In cantonese, the three pronunciations are lok9, ngok9, and ngau6 respectively. (I love my dear new dictionary 8) )

How about 刀 and 力; 兔 and 免? Are they not confusing enough?

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(dao1) - knife

(ren4) - blade

(diao1) sly


(tong3) - bucket

(yong3) 兵马俑 (bing1 ma3 yong3) - terracotta warriors and horses


(gan4) - do, work

(yu2) - for, of


(jia3) - first

(you2) - because, due to

(tian2) - field


(zai4) - again

(ran3) one of surnames

冉冉 (ran2 ran2) - gradually




孑孓 the babies of mosquito

hehe, it's so confusing. :-P

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Also (xing4) and (nie4). These are listed in the Zhongwen Zipu as different characters, but apparently, there's no graphical difference between them. I think they're two different characters that over the years have evolved to look exactly the same, despite the fact that they have different etymologies.

There's also (cha2) and (nie2), (shi4) and (tu3), (niao3) and (wu1). There are a bazillion of them. Which is one of the reasons why Chinese is such a hard language to learn to read and write.

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