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Etymology of 久


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The Outlier dictionary says its original meaning comes from the image of the end of an arrow making contact with the bowstring. Its modern meaning, "long time", comes from a sound loan. I don't know what other character the sound loan comes from.

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Tomsima

other etymology dictionaries seem to run with the idea that 久 is the earlier way 灸 was written, or that it's not possible to know where it came from. Bit disappointed to see the source hasn't been given in the outlier entry, as it seems to shed light in a way other dictionaries don't

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johnvaradero

According to the 2008 edition of the 汉字源流字典 published by 语言出版社, page 37, 久 depicts a person () being treated with the smoke from a burning moxa roll (艾卷) on a certain part of the body. Because the treatment with a burning moxa roll requires a lot of patience, the character came to be used to express „a long time“ – that’s how it got the meaning it has today.

 

(Because eventually was mostly used to express „a long time“, the component "火" was added, creating the character 灸 to specifically mean the aforementioned medical treatment).

 

the original form of the character „“ was . depicts a person () being treated with the smoke from a burning () moxa roll (艾卷) on a certain part of the body. After the transition from the lesser seal script to the official script of the Han Dynasty (隶变), was written as .

 

(Because eventually was mostly used to express „a long time“, the character 灸 came in use again with the specific meaning of the aforementioned medical treatment).

 

Edit: Mistakes as pointed out by Tomsima corrected. 

Edited by johnvaradero
Mistake
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Tomsima

Surely this is the wrong way round? I just checked the entry for 久 and also for 灸 on p475 and hopefully I'm not putting my foot in it, but the entries seem to suggest that 久 was the earlier form, with two distinct meanings. In order to later distinguish, the 火 was added to make 灸 especially for the moxibustion meaning. The bit about 隸變 is only saying that the 楷 form of the character 久 is visually different from the 篆 form, not that a 火 was removed during the process.

 

Regardless of how reliable the etymology in the 汉字源流字典 is, it is surely safe to say that 久 came before 灸. It /may/ be the case that 久indicated the meaning of '灸' before '長久'.

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On 2/25/2020 at 9:32 PM, Tomsima said:

Bit disappointed to see the source hasn't been given in the outlier entry

 

It should be there, but somehow we missed it. I'll make sure it gets corrected.

 

We based our entry on 季旭昇《說文新證》 page 481 (the most recent edition). There were a few other explanations that we rejected for various reasons (including the moxibustion thing). We're actually out of town on a business trip right now, but I can get back to you in a few days with a more complete explanation. 

 

On 2/26/2020 at 12:55 AM, johnvaradero said:

According to the 2008 edition of the 汉字源流字典 published by 语言出版社

 

I'd be careful relying on that book. The author has a tendency to interpret characters as 會意字 when they aren't, forcing meaning when none is there, and seriously downplays the role of sound in Chinese characters, which is a common trait of old-school character scholarship (well...Qing-era philologists made massive advances in phonology, but unfortunately not all modern scholars have continued down that path).

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