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money means silver?


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I just watched the documentary "Empires of silver", which trace the political and economic history of China in view of the silver trade during 1500-1900. Highly recommended!

However at the end they say "the character for money means silver" and "the characters for bank means silver shop".

Is this accurate? Google translate says money is 錢, which doesn't mean silver, and bank is 銀行, which means silver+walk.


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4 hours ago, kdjupdal said:

"the character for money means silver"

This is not accurate. Many characters are money related: 金、銀、錢、財、幣、帑、餉、祿……

In classical Chinese 錢 has a narrower meaning -- copper coins.

The word 'money' also has multiple meanings. If by 'money' you mean the most common medium of exchange, then yes during that period China was on the silver standard. Tax, salary, trade, cost, etc. were counted in taels of standard silver.

4 hours ago, kdjupdal said:

"the characters for bank means silver shop"

This is correct. 銀 means silver and 行 (háng) means a row > a line of trade > a shop.

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Saying money means silver is inaccurate, but I think it's fair to say that in some contexts, 银 refers to money. As others have pointed, 银行 means bank, and in shops you will often see the 收银台 which is the counter where you hand over payment/money to the 收银员 who is the cashier.

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