Tuesday, 7 March 2017

出 | chū

In Mandarin Chinese, (Pinyin: chū 🔊) is a verb meaning “to go out”, “to leave”, “to exit” etc.

looks like two characters piled on top of each other, but in fact its origin has nothing to do with mountains. Many historical forms of this character, especially oracle bone script, show a footprint going out of some sort of enclosure: a room, a house, a city — anything with walls. On some of the oracle bone characters, the “enclosure” part even looks like an archaic form of (that kind of toothy smile). Ponte Ryūrui mentions (and rejects) an alternative theory, where is “based on an image of rapidly growing grass”.

Combining with , we get 出口 (chūkǒu 🔊) that means “exit” or “way out” — a useful word to recognise, for example if you drive.

More photos of sea glass @ Shutterstock.

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