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What is the Etymology of these 2 characters 王 and 主 ?


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This says that the oracle bone form of wang resembled a fuyue executioner's axe and so the highest form of power, i.e. of life and death: https://baike.baidu.com/item/王/504?fr=aladdin

 

The same dictionary says that the oracle bone form of zhu resembled a candle flame and so came to mean fundamental and prominent then by extension a lord or a master who owned slaves. https://baike.baidu.com/item/主/2361193

 

We have several proper etymologists post here who might have a better explanation.

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anonymoose
8 hours ago, OneEye said:

The explanation for 主 (a candle) is an old one, which comes from the Shuowen Jiezi 說文解字. Unfortunately it's not correct. 主 was originally a depiction of a memorial tablet used for sacrifices to the dead. That meaning (memorial tablet for sacrifices) was extended to mean "god of a locale", then further extended to "leader", "ruler", then "prominent", etc.

 

How did you research this to come to the conclusion that 說文解字 is incorrect?

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Sreeni

https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/主 I have come across through this and referring the Glyph origin, Bronze inscription. It seems that a person with big head. Might be Master or owner.  My intention is to instantly remember this image to remember vocabulary with no ambiguity.

 

Thanks Jim for the links, but could not understand Chinese completely, but partly, as I am beginner

 

oneEye thanks for detailed explanation from oracle bone it seems the memorial tablet. Thanks for your point of view and explanation, it helped 

 

anonymoose I think it is based on history and guess. Proving it might be difficult and may be possible. But can you understand unprove oneEye point of view memory tablet...

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mungouk

I heard or read somewhere (I think it was a Coursera course about Chinese philosophy) that 王 represents the mandate of heaven, in that the top line is heaven, the bottom line is the people, and the middle is the Emperor who connects heaven to the people.


Did I dream this?

Is it real, or where did it come from?

 


 

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OneEye

That's also from the Shuowen. Generally, these sorts of philosophical/mystical character explanations should be viewed as highly suspect. People were trying to solve a practical problem ("how should I write this spoken word?"), not philosophizing, when they created characters.

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OneEye

It's hard to say you should disregard it altogether, as it's a massively important work, but you should always check it against something more up-to-date. A good book specifically for this purpose is 季旭昇《說文新證》. 季旭昇 is a very meticulous, highly respected scholar and does a really thorough job in this book.

 

Each entry presents the Shuowen's explanation, then reviews the paleographic and other evidence, and then corrects the Shuowen's explanation. Generally if there's not an entry in this book, it means either 1) you can probably trust the Shuowen's explanation, or 2) there's not enough evidence yet either way to know if the Shuowen got it right or not.

 

But to give you an idea of how many errors the Shuowen contains, 《說文新證》 is over 1000 pages. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...
Sreeni

What is etymology of 句 ?

 

句 jù  sentence Vs 句⧸钩⧸勾〔﹣⧸鉤﹔鈎⧸﹣〕 gōu to hook


anybody know brief background?

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