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How 卂 xùn = “a captured prisoner of war”?


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We cite all of our sources in the dictionary itself. I recommend checking out 季旭昇《說文新證》 if you can—that's what our entry for 訊 (which you're referring to) is based on. 季老師 also cites a few previous scholars on which he bases his explanation.


He makes a pretty convincing argument that 卂 originally depicted a person with their arms bound behind their back. The oracle bone forms bear this out quite well. 口 was added later to express the meaning "to question, interrogate," and the 口 became 言 during the Warring States period (these two components are very interchangeable, especially in Warring States script).


Beyond that, I'm not really sure what you're asking when you say "what it means or how it is transformed to  “a captured prisoner of war” ?" Can you elaborate?

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On 1/21/2022 at 12:51 AM, OneEye said:

Beyond that, I'm not really sure what you're asking when you say "what it means or how it is transformed to  “a captured prisoner of war” ?" Can you elaborate?


could you please give pictograph / oracle bone structure of this character, showing it as prisoner of war?

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It depicts a person with their hands bound behind their backs. This is 卂, the original form (初文) of 訊.


These are other early forms of 訊:




Form 2 shows a kneeling person with threads/string (幺) behind them, again indicating hands bound behind the back. It also contains 口 (which in the modern form of 訊 is now 言). Form 3 shows a kneeling person with hands bound behind the back (), but slightly simplified compared to form 1 above. It also contains 口 like form 2. 


Note that 卂 in form 3 is visually similar to 女:




The difference is that 女 shows arms folded in front of the body, while 卂 shows them behind the body, as they would be when a prisoner is bound.

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