What Lies behind Chinese Characters?

Updated 2014-07-10 15:44:50

A photo recently went viral on the Chinese twitter-like social media platforms of Weibo and Wechat depicting a prediction for the outcomes of the FIFA World Cup using Chinese characters.

In the photo, red strokes singled out within Chinese characters reveal four Chinese more characters: one, two, three and four. The original characters are actually the words for Germany, Argentina, Holland and Brazil.

What Lies behind Chinese Characters?

[yī] 一 one                         [dé guó] 德国 Germany
[èr] 二 two                         [ā gēn ting] 阿根廷 Argentina
[sān]三 three                      [hé lán] 荷兰 Holland
[sì] 四 four                         [bā xī] 巴西 Brazil 

Though the trick is somewhat farfetched, some characters have a reasonable structure whereby the components explain the whole. Take [yíng]"赢"(win) for example, the character has five parts, each of which tells you what characteristics you should possess if you want to win.

What Lies behind Chinese Characters?

Five parts:
[wáng] 亡( conquer/deceased/die/flee/lose) Meaning a sense of crisis.
[kǒu] 口 (mouth)  Referring to communication skill.
[yuè]月( flesh in ancient Chinese)  Referring to health.
[bèi]贝 (treasure or money in ancient times) Meaning material base or money.
[fán]凡 (ordinary/common)  Referring to peace of mind or a balanced mood.

The shape of some characters is similar to their meanings. For Example:

What Lies behind Chinese Characters?

[mù] “木” means tree. The shape symbolizes the tree's top, branches and trunk.
[lín] “林” symbolizes two trees standing together, so this means trees or woods.
[sēn] “森” symbolizes three trees standing together. The numbers three, six and nine in Chinese implies a numerous amount or many, so this character is used to mean forest and is usually combined with ”林”.


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