Friday, January 30, 2009

Today's Word: Cat-Headed Bird-Bird

#Chinese #Mandarin #Birds
This not as immediately funny as yesterday's Bag Rat, but has some interesting twists and turns.

The character for cat will remain really funny for ever, considering the story provided by James W Heisig in "Remembering the Kanji". The left part is a generic animal component, but Heisig suggested wild dogs as the specific label. To the right we have seedlings, i.e. something growing on a rice field. So to remember this you have to see a pack of wild dogs watering the cat plants/seedling on a rice filed, waiting for the chase to start as soon as the cats have grown up. (Unfortunately, Hanzi students will have to wait for volume 2 of "Remembering the Hanzi" to get to this character.)

Head is one of those radical simplifications we find in Hanzi:

頭 > 头

Finally the Bird-Bird character.... Yet another feature of character creation: the same 'meaning' is doubling up. "old bird" + "standard bird"

鹰 = 隹 + /鳥

This "bird-bird" character is some sort of generic label for several birds of pray and found in words like hawk, falcon, eagle, owl etc. Alone, by itself, it means Eagle. More birds at

listen to māotóuyīng spoken (

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