Friday, 2 March 2018

行 | xíng | háng

In Mandarin Chinese, is an interesting word with a number of pronunciations and meanings. As a verb (Pinyin: xíng 🔊), it could mean “to walk”, “to go”, “to move”, “to carry out”, “to execute”, “to perform”, “to be good”, “to work” etc. Some compound words of (xíng) include

  • + = 行云 (xíngyún): a drifting cloud
  • + = 行星 (xíngxīng): “moving star”, i.e. planet
  • + = 五行 (Wǔ Xíng): although widely known as “the Five Elements”, it is better translated as “the Five Movements”; historically, the five planets
  • + = 出行 (chūxíng): to set out on a long journey
  • + = 风行 (fēngxíng): to spread or proceed quickly; to be in fashion
As a noun (háng), it could mean “profession”, “trade”, “business”, “place”, “line” (of objects) or “row”. Yet as another noun (pronounced either xíng 🔊 or xìng 🔊) it also could mean “behaviour” or “conduct”.

is derived from a pictogram of a street intersection. According to Wiktionary,

Originally symmetric, it has been simplified asymmetrically; the left half is widely used as a radical, while the right half finds occasional use, and the character can be broken up as + , though originally it was not a compound.
But how “crossroads” came to represent all those disparate concepts? Lawrence J. Howell in his Etymological Dictionary of Han/Chinese Characters provides the following connection:
A depiction of straight and crossing roads extending into the distance → go; movement; procession; roadline (of people) → conduct; do; perform (← carry out an action).

tournez à droite, tournez à gauche, tout droit, carrefour, La maison du Matcha, waka waka //
turn right, turn left, straight ahead, crossroads, The House of Matcha, waka waka

More photos related to roads and sea glass @ Shutterstock.

More adventures of sumo wrestler cat @ My leçons de French.

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