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Outlier Linguistic Solutions


OneEye
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Good question! They're sort of a vague indicator of semantic distance. If the semantic component's meaning is very close to the character's meaning, we'll use "indicate." A bit further, and we'll say "points to." If it's a looser connection, we'll say "hints at." There's some subjectivity to it, of course, but we wanted to break up the monotony somewhat, without doing it in a random way.

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Thanks. To clarify this concept of semantic distance, you are not saying that you have less confidence (with a "hint", say) that a component is a semantic component, right?

 

But rather that, whereas it's hard to imagine a semantic component in 她 not being a component that means 'woman', in 作 the 亻 (for 'people') could quite easily have had a different semantic component (e.g. a 扌) or indeed none at all?

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Well, anything could have had different components, and often did. Components with compatible meanings were swapped out all the time, especially in Warring States script. 亻 could be swapped for 女卩身尸大 etc., as all have to do with people. 糸巾帛布幺 etc. often got swapped for each other too, as they all have to do with textiles. We ended up with the characters we have in the modern script due in some ways to historical coincidence.

 

So we're not indicating uncertainty or a lower level of confidence, or that something could have been something else. We're simply indicating how close the semantic relationship is between the character's meaning and that of its semantic component.

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  • 2 months later...

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Edited to add: of course any new material will be included no matter when you purchase the course!

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  • 1 month later...

I was sitting there looking at 疑窦, trying to figure out what the 穴 in 窦 was trying to tell me, before I noticed that the remainder was the d-u sound from 读 and 牍. Unfortunately the Outlier entry only sent me deeper - why does a character pronounced in Modern Mandarin as mài lead to shu/xu/du/dou pronounciations? And why does 賣 get used to represent these, yet 買 seems to stay out of the action as a sound component? Was wondering if any research had been done on this?

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@Tomsima

I have a theory: it's due to confusion between 賣 and 𧸇.

賣 (說文作𧷓。从出从買) apparently got its sound from 買.

𧸇 (从貝𡍬聲。𡍬,古文睦。讀若育。) also means 'to sell' but is pronounced yù < juk. (I suspect it's the same word as 鬻 and 儥.) If you look at 說文, these characters with a *uk sound all have a 先+買-lookalike as their phonetic component, not 出+買. For 贖 the text even reads 从貝𧸇聲.

But this distinction obviously disappeared over time, just like the 月/肉 distinction.

 

EDIT: I don't know why but some characters won't display on my phone

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There are actually two characters/components that resemble 賣 in modern Chinese: 𧶠 yù and 賣 mài. They have different origins but have largely converged in the modern script (that is, though I've typed them using different code points here, in standard Chinese and in most fonts, 𧶠 yù is written identically to 賣 mài when it appears as a component). 𧶠 yù is the sound component in those characters, not 賣 mài. The system data is generated by code and then checked by hand, but it looks like we missed this one. We'll get it fixed so that it's more clear in the next update. Thanks for pointing it out!

 

Here are early forms of each (賣 mài in 小篆, 𧶠 yù in 西周金文), along with a quick breakdown of their original components:

 

image.thumb.png.120ac188711906cdc55d27907751519f.png

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  • 9 months later...

Yes, it did! We added another 180 Essentials entries (total ~3350) and 80 Expert entries (total ~330).

 

We've also just launched a new course: Early China: History, Culture, and Archeology. It starts in February but it's open for registration now. Should be a really interesting one!

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