Anthony,I hope this is an appropriate post for your group.If not,please let me know and I'll start another group.I'd like to examine the decomposition of characters and how the radicals combine to give the final meaning and get others to share their thoughts on this.I've found this can be done quite easily in mdbg.Now I want to look at 想....to think,or speculate。Looking at the top half of the character,on the left we have 木 the radical for wood,and on the right 目 。。the radical for eye.Just a coincidence that they are both mù.Anyway,these 2 are put together to give 相。。meaning each other,one another ,or mutually.So I am wondering on how wood and eye can come together to give that meaning.Any thoughts? [or am I just looking at this wrong?].What,is the eye looking at the wood,and the wood has it's own approach to the eye? ..as the eye looks at the wood there is interplay...something mutual going on.Ok,stop laughing guys.I know I may be out on a limb here.Well,anyway, the final part of the construction seems a little more straightfoward and very nice...add to this mutual thinking 心。。。meaning heart,mind and you have a couple of folk mutually having the other in their heart/mind...they're thinking of each other.How nice.I'm also interested in the shape of these radicals and how they came to represent that meaning.I mean 心 does look pretty much like a heart shape,and 木 looks somewhat tree like with branches etc,but at other times the connection is less obvious and I'd be interested to hear others thoughts on this.
simonpetterssonDecember 09, 2009, 02:01 PM
According to chinese-etymology.org: "Signific Cluster, 木 and 目 have the same pronunciation - similar".
Thus, you're wrong that it's a coincidence that they have the same pronounciation. It's the whole point. Because of this, they combine to form the character for "similar". I assume that from there, it's a drift in meaning to "each other, mutually" that happened over a long time. From "similar" to "mutual" the jump isn't that big.
As to the composition of 想, that's a signific-phonetic cluster. The character means "The thing that is related to thinking or the heart, and that sounds like 相". The fact that 相 means "mutual" has nothing to do with it, though it can be useful for making mnemonics, of course.
changyeDecember 10, 2009, 02:29 AM
"木" and "目" have the same sound "mu" in modern Mandarin, but not in ancient times, so the explanation by "Chinese-etymology.org" doesn't make much sense. The approximate process of the pronunciation shift is as follows,
木 mok > muk > mu > mu
目 miuk > miuk > mu > mu
As far as I know, the most probable etymology of "相" is "closely observe (目) wood (木)", so the most original meaning of "相" is "observe", and this character is actually used in this sense in a sentence written with oracle bone scripts more than three thousand years ago.
"想" is a relatively new character, which was created about two thousand and a few hundred years ago. The combination of "相" (observe) and "心" (heart) suggests "contemplate/think of/long for" or something like that.
For the record, the definition of "想" in 《说文解字》 (100 A.D.) is "冀思也", and this means "想，因希望得到而思念".
oranginaDecember 10, 2009, 03:04 AM
That was the explination at chinese-character.org, but it didn't include the ancient pronunciation, so I was wondering which explination was correct.