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eladalon

Etymology of the letter 沙

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eladalon

I've looked up the etymology for the letter 沙 but couldn't find something I can rely on...

An etymology I would have liked it to be is "少 (little, few)"+"水 (water)", thus -> desert.

Is that a good guess? Or is it just too obvious and closed minded? What have you found about it?

Thanks!

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Shelley

I think the first thing you should be aware of is that it is not a letter, it is a Character. There is a difference.

If you just want something to help you remember the character and how to write it, your idea is good enough. It needs to be some thing you can remember easily.

As to the actual etymology I am not sure what you mean by "something I can rely on". If there is an established origin for this character then you have to go with it, but if it is just for your use, anything that makes sense to you is allowable as long as you are aware that this is what it is.

You could try looking here www.chineseetymology.org

Good luck

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eladalon

@Shelley

I asked mainly to find the real Etymology.. I looked it up the site you linked, but it doesn't seem to have a good explanation.

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Confused Laowai

I use longwiki.net these days to check out the etymology and other interesting facts about Chinese characters. It is all in Chinese, but I can give you a translation.

Basically, the original meaning 沙 meant "very fragmented (smashed) rock pieces". The bronze script character had, like you said 水 on the left and 少 the right. The original character wasn't 少, but rather represented tiny granules. It later evolved into the more standardized form.

Thus, the original character probably referred to sand on river banks or on beaches. The tiny smashed granules formed by the water crashing about.

So that is where 沙 refers to desert, because it refers to the sand.

I think it's actually quite funny that the present form of the two components actually relate to a desert, like you mentioned. Little water. I like that. I wouldn't have been surprised if it did.

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外国赤佬

【說文】水散石也。从水从少,水少沙見。楚東有沙水。

stones scattered by water, from 水, from 少, when there's little (少) water (水), 沙 can be seen, to the East of Chu there's 沙-water

But 許慎 could be wrong here. 少 may as well be phonetic. We will never know I guess.

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deezy

Hi, I am looking for the etymology for 知 (know)?

I use longwiki.net these days to check out the etymology and other interesting facts about Chinese characters. It is all in Chinese, but I can give you a translation.
This site no longer seems to exist? :(
You could try looking here www.chineseetymology.org
This site has no actual explanation...but shows an intriguing Bronze Age pictogram that seems to depict a guy holding a vessel next to something?

b08249.gif

And also a later seal script version also showing a guy perhaps similarly collecting...maybe...rainwater from...

L01379.gif

...a cloud ()?

s08529.gif

Perhaps the meaning of the Chinese "know" is to (loosely) "collect wisdom from Heaven?"

But in its modern form, 知 is composed of a 矢 (arrowhead) by a 口 (mouth). Or is that just a mutated simplification of the previous?

So, any other resources or ideas, anyone?? :shrug:

Thanks!!

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OneEye

Without having looked it up, I believe that's 亏 (于), not 云.

The words 知 and 智 were written with the same graph at one point (they are related words, after all), probably 知 or something like it (maybe with the 于), and then developed into something more complex, and were later distinguished by writing one without the 曰 (or 白, or 自, depending on which document you're looking at) and one with it.

That's an oversimplification, of course, which should be evident just from looking at the variety of ways each word was written.

智 is glossed in the 說文 as "識詞也" and 知 as "詞也." For 知, the 說文 says "从口从矢," meaning it was a 會意字 or "associative compound" composed of 口 and 矢. That would imply that 矢 isn't operating as a phonetic here, or at least 許慎 didn't think so. Again, without looking it somewhere up it's hard to know if modern scholars agree. And yes, the bronze character you posted does look to me like it contains 大, which would be a person, but then sometimes 大 and 矢 are difficult to distinguish, so who knows.

Hopefully this helps.

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