Saturday, January 31, 2009

Today's Word: Electric Brain

#chinese #mandarin #hanzi #kanji .
Yes: computer. You guessed right.

I have not found any frequency list so I am not sure which of the two words for computer is the most common one, but I guess it is the second one below:

电脑 diànnǎo -- 计算机 jìsuànjī

Nevertheless, I think an Electric Brain 电脑 is more fun than a Calculation Machine 计算机.

电脑 diànnǎo -- 计算机 jìsuànjī

Nevertheless, I think an Electric Brain 电脑 is more fun than a Calculation Machine 计算机.

As mentioned earlier here, I was not very happy with Chinese Simplified Characters when I started to go from Japanese/Kanji to Mandarin. - Here you find the posts on Simplifications. - There still are some simplified characters that I would like to have reverted to their original, traditional version, if I could. Electricity is one of those hanzi:

Not all characters are immediately offering a view of the original idea/object, but here is an excellent time-machine. The top part of the traditional character - same as the Kanji - is the rain radical/primitive 雨, used in so many characters for weather etc.: 雲 cloud, 雪 snow, 露 dew, 雷 thunder and so on.

The bottom component is the most interesting, though: is it a turtle, tortoise or a dragon? The blue, middle characters are tortoise and a simplified version of dragon (Kanji, but also a less frequently used Hanzi). So the first 'vision' of electricity was some sort of dragon in the sky appearing when it's raining. Neat. What's left in the simplified form is thus only the dragon part.

Confession: I was too much in a hurry when I wrote Today's Hanzi: Very difficult?

As you might remember I confessed ignorance regarding the bottom components of the "mane" character below.
If I had given my memory a bit more time to work, it would possibly have arrived at "hmmm.. doesn't this remind me a bit of BRAIN??" Let's look at the simplified brain character again (to the right below).
First there is what we can call the moon-flesh component signaling a part of the body. Then we have a) a lid of some sort, b) X and c) a container shape. We can agree that the brain indeed is a huge X - seen a brain recently? - contained in our skulls. No argument there. But.... here we go rats again!

I know, I know.... You might go rats here in the beginning, but the whole idea with this project is to show show you that each and every Kanji/Hanzi - simple or complex - is painted from a very limited palette of components/radicals. There is no absolute consensus on exactly how many radicals we should use, but consider slightly over 200 as the maximum.

To make it more interesting the ancient scribes added their own twists and misreadings, and we will never know exactly what. The traditional brain has the "hair" trio <<< and [x] with a little dot or accent´. No doubt: a head. If we go further back in history you can see that head of the ancient mouse/rat had the same head, but without the extra dot.

Trust me: Your memory is vastly superior to any computer! There will be a slight memory overflow in the beginning as you dive into this, but the dust will soon settle. Electric Dragon (in the Sky) settles into the Body Part called Brain. Now quickly: put on the lid!

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