FUN WITH CHINESE - Men in the Fields during Rain

田+力=男

雨+田=雷

When Westerners start learning Chinese characters, things at first seem overwhelming, and nothing seems to make sense. It’s all so different from the familiar alphabet. Those who don’t give up after facing this initial, seemingly insurmountable “great wall of Chinese characters” realize that in fact things do make sense (at least here and there), and that once you become familiar with the most common elements that make up the various characters, memorizing them isn’t nearly so difficult as initially feared.

 

Favorite characters with beginners are those that are written with just a few strokes and somewhat resemble the objects they represent. Take 田 (tian), for example, which shows a paddy field intersected by footpaths. After you have learned that it means “field,” you will remember it easily. The right-side stroke in 力 (li) looks like a flexed arm, and fittingly means “strength.”

 

After having learned these types of easy-to-recognize and easy-to-remember characters, you will naturally find it less difficult to learn characters formed by two or more put together. Combine 田 and 力 and you get 男 (nan), which means “man” (strength in the field = a man). Makes perfect sense, right?

 

Another example is 雨 (yu), which means “rain” (see the falling raindrops?). Put this character on top of 田 and you get 雷 (lei), meaning “thunder” rather than “rain in the field.” Time to head home, men in the fields…

 

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FUN WITH CHINESE - Men in the Fields during Rain

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