Friday, 13 April 2018

冰 | bing

In Mandarin Chinese, (Pinyin: bīng 🔊) could be a noun meaning “ice”, a verb “to freeze”, or an adjective for “freezing”, “frozen” or “ice-cold”. It is also a slang term for a recreational drug methamphetamine (probably from “ice”, one of its English synonyms).

looks very much like the character “water” with two additional strokes which, in turn, represent a radical form of , which is a pictogram of ice (also pronounced bīng). We also saw two (slightly different) strokes in “winter”, a season that has something to with “ice” and “cold”!

is an alternative form of featuring only one extra stroke; this form is more common in Japan. Lawrence J. Howell writes in his Etymological Dictionary of Han/Chinese Characters:

The relevant seal inscription form shows cracks spreading over the ice of a river frozen in winter → icebe frozen; freezing cold.
Compounds of include The Chinese name of Disney’s animated blockbuster Frozen is 冰雪奇缘 (bīng xuě qí yuán), literally “Ice and snow romance”.

More photos of ice @ Shutterstock.

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