Friday, 5 May 2017

子 | zǐ

In Mandarin Chinese, (Pinyin: 🔊) has many meanings. As a noun, it can signify “a child”, “an offspring”, “a son”, “a person”, “a seed” or “an egg”, while as an adjective, it means “young” or “small”.

Curiously, a combination of “man” with , 男子 (nánzǐ), still means “a man”, not “a boy” as one would expect; similarly, + = 女子 (nǚzǐ) means “a woman”, not “a girl”. (This is not the case in Japanese where 男子 and 女子 mean exactly that: “a boy” and “a girl”, respectively.) However, an anagram of 女子, 子女 (zǐnǚ), means “children”, i.e. “sons and daughters”.

Many historical forms of show a baby with a large head and spread arms (the legs are presumably swaddled). To remember the pronunciation of this word, I think of it as a variant of Latin letter Ƶ (pronounced American way, /ziː/ 🔊).

More photos related to children and sea glass @ Shutterstock.

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