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Christa

面 - what is the base meaning?

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Christa

Using 面 by itself, I normally think of the base meaning as being "noodles" but is this correct?

 

Is the base meaning actually "flour"? Or "wheat-product" or something else?

 

What does it actually mean?

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imron
11 hours ago, Publius said:

Talking about its meaning seems pointless.

Unless you are talking about the semantic meaning of it as a word rather than a breakdown of components that make up the character.

 

My impression is that the OP is asking about the former, not the latter.  I agree with OP that used by itself (in the context of 麵) then it would usually refer to noodles rather than flour or generic wheat product.

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陳德聰

Correct me if I’m wrong but based on Christa’s usual style of question, I assume that this comes from seeing multiple compounds like:

 

麵粉

麵包

麵筋

 

It does seem to just mean ‘wheat’ quite a bit of the time. Though noodle powder, noodle bun, and noodle tendon all sound quite delicious.

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Publius
1 hour ago, imron said:

My impression is that the OP is asking about the former, not the latter.

Yes, I understand what the OP wants. I was just being difficult. Sorry.

When I saw the title I thought, what is there to discuss about faces? Turns out she's talking about an entirely different word.

I also took issue with the way the question is asked. I read "base" as the semantic root all other derived meanings are based upon, while what she's really after is the most common meaning (or the first thing that comes to mind) when 麵 is used alone. Common does not equal to base.

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imron
48 minutes ago, 陳德聰 said:

It does seem to just mean ‘wheat’ quite a bit of the time.

Yep, I was talking about when used as a character by itself.    For example, 中午去吃面吧 would clearly not be anything other than noodles.  Re-reading the OP, I see now that that was only the first part of the question.  In multi-character words, its meaning is closer to 'wheat'

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Hofmann

I'm sure you know how to look at frequency lists already, right?

 

So you're probably asking about its original meaning. 面: "face," 麵: "wheat flour." Don't want to bother people with this stuff again? Try Outlier's etymology dictionary for Pleco.

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Christa
On 14/04/2018 at 6:53 AM, 陳德聰 said:

Correct me if I’m wrong but based on Christa’s usual style of question, I assume that this comes from seeing multiple compounds like:

 

麵粉

麵包

麵筋

 

You know me so well!

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Christa

Yes, sorry for causing confusion by the way I asked the question. I used the simplified character rather than 麺, as I often feel that simplified is preferred on the forum, even though I personally prefer using traditional.

 

I wasn't, as you all seem to have worked out, asking about the character's origin per se (particularly not the simplified version's) but rather the essential essence in meaning of that term. You've actually all done a fantastic job of answering that question.

 

From what you've all said, it seems to me reasonable to say that 麺, when used by itself as a word, is "noodles" but when used as a component in other terms its essential meaning is "wheat". This is what I wanted to know. I'm sorry for being annoying...

 

陳德聰 may be qualified to become my therapist :shock:

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Shelley
2 hours ago, Christa said:

I often feel that simplified is preferred on the forum

Is it? I am not so sure, I see traditional a lot too.

 

I wonder if there is a preference?

I would use what ever you are used to, I am learning simplified but paying attention to the traditional so that I can at least recognise it, if not be able to write it..

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Jim
2 hours ago, Christa said:

From what you've all said, it seems to me reasonable to say that 麺, when used by itself as a word, is "noodles" but when used as a component in other terms its essential meaning is "wheat". This is what I wanted to know.

I think the base/essential meaning is actually "wheat flour", as per Publius's first post on the thread:

On 13/04/2018 at 7:02 PM, Publius said:

Here's your base meaning

《說文·麥部》:麪,麥屑末也。

Seems pedantic I know but there's other words for 'wheat', e.g. 小麦 in the context of the crop and so forth and 面 is definitely the processed state.

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Publius
6 hours ago, Christa said:

From what you've all said, it seems to me reasonable to say that 麺, when used by itself as a word, is "noodles" but when used as a component in other terms its essential meaning is "wheat".

It still depends on the context. In 晚上吃麵吧 clearly you mean noodles. In 麵裡長蟲了 clearly you cannot mean noodles. In 王二狗上街去買麵, well, it depends. Two score years ago in our fathers' time it most certainly meant wheat flour. Every household had a 麵口袋 and a 米口袋. Not any more. We buy ready-made 饅頭、花卷、糖三角、烙餅、火燒、寬麵條 and what have you. Today it'll be understood to mean 切麵, cut but uncooked noodles. On the one hand, 麵 used by itself does not always mean noodles. 和麵, 發麵: flour. 下麵, 煮麵: noodles. 擀麵: both. 炒麵: depends. 買一碗麵: noodles. 買一袋麵: probably flour. 買一包麵: instant noodles. 買半斤麵: probably noodles. 買二十斤麵: flour. On the other hand, not all compounds warrant a wheat flour reading. 麵鋪, 麵館 easily come to mind. And 胡椒麵兒 is neither noodles nor wheat. It's just a powder.

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Christa
On 15/04/2018 at 1:35 PM, Shelley said:

Is it? I am not so sure, I see traditional a lot too.

 

Perhaps I am over-thinking as usual.

 

On 15/04/2018 at 1:49 PM, Jim said:

I think the base/essential meaning is actually "wheat flour", as per Publius's first post on the thread:

 

Interesting. I have wondered before if it means something like "wheat product" or "wheaty". I wonder if either of those work.

 

On 15/04/2018 at 4:49 PM, Publius said:

It still depends on the context. In 晚上吃麵吧 clearly you mean noodles. In 麵裡長蟲了 clearly you cannot mean noodles. In 王二狗上街去買麵, well, it depends. Two score years ago in our fathers' time it most certainly meant wheat flour. Every household had a 麵口袋 and a 米口袋. Not any more. We buy ready-made 饅頭、花卷、糖三角、烙餅、火燒、寬麵條 and what have you. Today it'll be understood to mean 切麵, cut but uncooked noodles. On the one hand, 麵 used by itself does not always mean noodles. 和麵, 發麵: flour. 下麵, 煮麵: noodles. 擀麵: both. 炒麵: depends. 買一碗麵: noodles. 買一袋麵: probably flour. 買一包麵: instant noodles. 買半斤麵: probably noodles. 買二十斤麵: flour. On the other hand, not all compounds warrant a wheat flour reading. 麵鋪, 麵館 easily come to mind. And 胡椒麵兒 is neither noodles nor wheat. It's just a powder.

 

This is so comprehensive, Publius, that I may burst. Thank you! Still, I kind of think that "noodles" as the general stand alone meaning and maybe "wheat-product"/"wheat flour"/"wheaty" when it's a compound should work as a general base meaning of the word in most situations. I realise there'll always be exceptions. As my questions often tend to be, this is just an attempt to get a feeling for what the essential meaning is / was originally - as I say, I realise there'll always be exceptions. 

 

Thank you again, all of you!

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Hofmann

Why do you care about this stuff though? There is no such thing as the essential/base/stand-alone/general meaning. Words just mean different things in different contexts. You will of course find one most common meaning, but maybe it's only most common by a hundredth of a percent, and there are a second and third most common meaning close behind. Maybe the rankings change day to day.

 

Take 文, for example. I've forgotten what the most common meaning was already. Say it's "script." Once you know that and call it the essential meaning, you'd still have to consider the other meanings that are almost as common (or you won't be able to call yourself literate). In such a case, the difference between the most common and not the most common will be so insignificant that your label for the most common one is almost meaningless.

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imron
4 hours ago, Hofmann said:

Why do you care about this stuff though?

Sometimes the path to realising it's not necessary to focus on minutiae is to spend lots of time focusing on minutiae.

 

Other times, by spending lots of time focusing on minutiae you can reach a level where you no longer need to focus on minutiae.

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Publius

It is as useful as figuring out the 'essential' meaning of the English verb 'to post'. If you find it useful, then go for it. And keep us posted. :mrgreen:

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Tomsima

As useful as knowing the stroke order for 戈 I suppose :roll:

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Christa
On 16/04/2018 at 11:28 PM, Hofmann said:

Why do you care about this stuff though?

 

I can only speak for myself personally but I find it immensely useful. It gives aspects of the language a greater logic for me and changes learning much of the vocabulary from a potentially boring and arbitrary experience into something I find intellectually stimulating. For me, it transforms the language from being a list of words in a dictionary into something closer to a story.

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诸智卓

If you wanna say 面, it means noodles, and if you wanna say 面粉, it means flour

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