If you look at a comment on yesterday's post nciku.com - Chinese Character Animations you can notice that there are many aspects of "Chinese Characters" - "Kanji" or "Hanzi" - to keep in mind, but only as long as you enjoy it. The entire idea of learning is to make it a pleasure!
So I hope it's a pleasure to meet a new friend of mine: General Zong. Why he was a totally new acquaintance will come later .... If you take some time to read previous posts here you will learn that this blog is based on James W Heisig method to learn Kanji/Hanzi: you make up stories for each and every character to better remember them. Imagination, word play and associations.
Will skip the finer details today and ignore if the top two strokes actually aren't legs or not, or something entirely different. Here they are HORNS. Horns placed on top of a Big Mouth. So here we have a Big Mouthed, sort of devilish General. But wait, there is more: underneath his bullish apperance there is also a Big Heart, so he's not really as bad as he might seem at first contact.
Why "General"? That's the basic meaning of this character: general, overall, always etc. Here come the finer points: This character has - at least! - three variants. The top one (demonstrated with two different fonts) and one traditional and a different Japanese Kanji (and there is No Kanji at all like the simplified version here):
Quite a remarkable simplification, isn't it? In both characters above there is the component version of thread 糸 to the left. In the traditional Chinese character there is perhaps a chimney over the heart. - Told you: etymology is not rocket science! - The Japanese Kanji has the same meaning as it's Chinese origin: "general, overall, whole". 国連総会 = UN General Assembly :-)
I hope this will help you to remember General Zong - actually zǒng - the next time you meet him. Remember: he's really got a Big Heart. so don't let his equally Big Mouth offend you.