Foundations

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*rich man

=

一 + 口 + 田
one + mouth + field
Character Notes

greedy man: one mouth eats the whole field; derived from 富 fù wealthy

Character Comparison

gào
declare

=

牛 + 口
cow + mouth
Character Notes

Chick-Fil-A cow declaring “Eat more chikin” OR cow saying: ”I do declare”

Character Comparison

shí
time

=

日 + 寸
sun + thumb
Character Notes

primitive sundial: holding up your thumb to see its shadow

Character Comparison

diǎn
spot [n.]

=

占 + 灬
tell fortunes + cooking fire
Character Notes

fortune teller looks into cooking fire, then looks away and sees spots: uses these to tell your fortune, Macbeth

Character Comparison

nán
south

=

十 + 冂 + ¥
ten/needle + hood + RMB
Character Notes

gang in the south: drugs, hoods, money

Character Comparison

wài
outside

=

夕 + 卜
evening + magic wand
Character Notes

outside in the evening can be magic

Character Comparison

lán
orchid

=

丷 + 三
horns + three
Character Notes

picture of an orchid with two unopened blooms at top and three flowers below

Character Comparison

jiù
old

=

丨 + 日
stick + day/sun
Character Notes

if you leave a walking stick out in the sun, it gets old

Character Comparison

shì
market [n.]

=

亠 + 巾
top hat + towel
Character Notes

bad dream: show up at the market with only a top hat and towel

Character Comparison

shū
book

=

𠃌 + 𠃌 + 丨 + 丶
coat hook + coat hook + stick + drop
Character Notes

hang your book bag on the coat tree

Character Comparison

wash [v.]

=

氵 + 先xiān
water + first
Character Notes

wash with water first, then eat

Character Comparison

tāng
soup

=

氵 + (㇇勿)yáng
water + piglet
Character Notes

piglets floating in the water of the soup

Character Comparison

chǎng
site

=

土 + (㇇勿)yáng
soil + piglet
Character Notes

open area, piglets rooting around OR this is the actual site of Charlotte’s famous webs

Character Comparison

river

=

氵 + 可kě
water + can
Character Notes

"Little Steamboat that Could" chugging up the river

Character Comparison

zhī
offshoot, *branch

=

十shí + 又
ten/needle + right hand
Character Notes

ten fingers of your hands are the branches

Character Comparison

hǎi
sea

=

氵 + 每měi
water + every
Character Notes

“Water, water everywhere…” and not a drop to drink in Shanghai

Character Comparison

thing

=

牛 + 勿wù
cow + knot
Character Notes

What’s that thingy on a cow’s tail? It's like a frayed knot.

Character Comparison

lake

=

氵 + 胡hú
water + goatee
Character Notes

you grow a goatee at the lake

Character Comparison

region

=

匚 + 乂
box + sheaf/X
Character Notes

mark boxes on a map with X’s indicating different regions

Character Comparison

hēi
black

=

里 + 灬
computer + cooking fire
Character Notes

burnt computer is black

Character Comparison

xiān
first

=

牛 + 儿
cow + human legs
Character Notes

human leading a cow from behind, cow comes first

Character Comparison

měi
beautiful

=

羊 + 大
sheep + large
Character Notes

in pastoral societies, nothing is more beautiful than a large sheep

Character Comparison

chǎo
stir-fry

=

火 + 少shǎo
fire + few
Character Notes

just need fire and a few tools OR just high fire for a few minutes

Character Comparison

shěng
province

=

少shǎo + 目
few + eye
Character Notes

the further the province is from Beijing, the fewer the eyes on them

Character Comparison

bǎi
hundred

=

一 + 白bái
one + white
Character Notes

Japanese call 99 (100-1) your "white year" OR hair turns white at 100

Character Comparison

qiān
thousand

=

丿 + 十
slash + ten
Character Notes
Character Comparison
干gān dry/clothesline

zhān
tell fortunes

=

卜 + 口
magic wand + mouth
Character Notes
Character Comparison

take charge

=

𠃌 + 一 + 口
coat hook + one + mouth
Character Notes

you’re on the hook—you’re the one mouth in charge

Character Comparison

zhōu
state [n.]

=

3 丶 + 川
3 drops + stream
Character Notes

drops of land between the streams OR a dotted line through a river on a map showing the border between states

Character Comparison

běi
north

=

匕(back) + 匕
person sitting + person sitting
Character Notes

two people back-to-back trying to stay warm in the north

Character Comparison
比bǐ compare

nèi
internal

=

冂 + 人
hood + person
Character Notes

introvert with their hood up

Character Comparison

pǐn
goods

=

口 + 口 + 口
mouth + mouth + mouth
Character Notes

picture a pile of goods that an average family eats in a year

Character Comparison

guǒ
fruit

=

田 + 木
field + tree
Character Notes

fruit orchard: a field of trees OR 日+木 sun + tree, need sun to ripen the fruit on the trees

Character Comparison

jīng
capital

=

亠 + 口 + 小
top hat + mouth + small
Character Notes

the capital is where the little people go to talk to the top hats

Character Comparison

shé
tongue

=

千 + 口
thousand + mouth
Character Notes

a thousand tongues wagging OR a picture of a tied tongue

Character Comparison

tóu
head [n.], *bust

=

冫 + 大
ice + large dog
Character Notes

two hairs coming off the head of a large dog OR frozen bust of a large dog OR a large person with two arrows pointing at her head

Character Comparison
页yè page/head

diàn
electricity

=

日 + 乚
sun + hook
Character Notes

a lightning bolt is like a streak of electricity from the sun OR picture of a kite

Character Comparison

xìng
good fortune

=

土 + ¥
soil + RMB
Character Notes

What good fortune! Found ¥ buried under the soil.

Character Comparison
南nán south

míng
bright

=

日 + 月
sun + moon
Character Notes

the two bright things in the sky

Character Comparison

goatee

=

古gǔ + 月
ancient + moon
Character Notes

ancient moon with a goatee

Character Comparison

yuán
garden [n.]

=

囗 + 元yuán
enclose + Adam&Eve
Character Notes

Adam and Eve were enclosed for a while in a garden, Eden, where they thought they had everything they needed.

Character Comparison

yuán
beginning, *Adam & Eve

=

二 + 儿
two + human legs
Character Notes

The Bible starts with the creation story: “In the beginning…” and tells of the first two humans, Adam and Eve.

Character Comparison

Buddhist temple

=

土 + 寸
soil + thumb
Character Notes

We honor the memory of our spiritual leader Sì, who was the first to have a vision of this temple that we will build in his honor. He used his thumb to make many small models of the temple out of soil during his meditation exercises.

Character Comparison

chicken

=

又 + 鸟
right hand + bird
Character Notes

using right hand to herd chickens back into their yard OR holding a chicken drumstick in your right hand

Character Comparison

wén
literature, *gentleman farmer

=

亠 + 乂
top hat + sheaf
Character Notes

top hat on a literate gentleman farmer

Character Comparison

dōng
east, *rickshaw

=

车 + 小
vehicle + small
Character Notes

small vehicle of the east is a rickshaw

Character Comparison

xiā
shrimp

=

虫 + 下xià
insect + below
Character Notes

insect that lives below the ocean surface

Character Comparison

gāo
tall

=

亠 + 口 + 冂 + 口
top hat + mouth + hood + mouth
Character Notes

This is a tall man costume with someone on someone else’s shoulders. The guy on top wears a top hat to make him even taller. The guy on the bottom wears a hood to cover his face.

Character Comparison

machine

=

木 + 几jǐ
wood + wind
Character Notes

a wooden windmill

Character Comparison

chuáng
bed

=

广guǎng + 木
cave + tree
Character Notes

You have a seat 座 and a mat 席 in your cave, but you decide to upgrade to a bed and bring in a tree trunk.

Character Comparison

diàn
store [n.]

=

广 + 占zhān
cave + tell fortunes
Character Notes

a primitive store where you pay someone to get your fortune read

Character Comparison

suǒ
place [n.]

=

户 + 斤
door + axe
Character Notes

When you do finally reach your destination, you’ll know the place because there will be an axe by the door.

Character Comparison

bǎo
treasure [n.]

=

宀 + 玉
house + jade
Character Notes

Home is where they keep their treasure, but the greatest treasure comes in the news that they will be welcoming a 宝贝 bǎobèi baby!

Character Comparison

guó
country

=

囗 + 玉
enclose + jade
Character Notes

country’s wealth (jade) is enclosed, crown jewels protected

Character Comparison

huà
words

=

讠 + 舌
microphone + tongue
Character Notes

microphone amplifies the words of your tongue

Character Comparison

shǎo
few

=

小xiǎo + 丿
small + slash
Character Notes

take a small thing and slash it into a few

Character Comparison
步bù step

yòng
utilize, *Little Red Riding Hood

=

冂 + (二丨)
hood + bouquet
Character Notes

Little Red utilizes her hood every day when she is picking bouquets.

Character Comparison

xìn
faith

=

亻 + 言
persona + speech
Character Notes

you have faith in your persona’s speech

Character Comparison

huà
transform

=

亻 + 匕
persona + person sitting
Character Notes

standing person transforms into a sitting person, maybe in a magic show, *stroke crosses through

Character Comparison

huá
splendor

=

化huà + 十
transform + ten/needle/cross
Character Notes

transformed into something splendid by multiplying by ten or shooting up or accepting the cross

Character Comparison

nǎi
milk [n.]

=

女 + 乃nǎi
woman + fist
Character Notes

woman squeezes with fist and gets milk

Character Comparison

hǎo
good

=

女 + 子
woman + child
Character Notes

woman with her child is good

Character Comparison

jiāo
mingle

=

亠 + 父
top hat + father
Character Notes

fathers disguised as top hats mingling at a party

Character Comparison

měi
every

=

𠂉 + 母mǔ
lying down + mother
Character Notes

every mother needs a nap

Character Comparison

harmony

=

禾hé + 口
grain + mouth
Character Notes

whole grains in your mouth = (digestive) harmony OR when grain fills the mouths of the populations, there is harmony

Character Comparison

níng
calm [adj.]

=

宀 + 丁dīng
house + nail
Character Notes

house is nailed securely to keep it calm in a storm

Character Comparison

ān
peaceful

=

宀 + 女
house + woman
Character Notes

a woman at peace when she is the only one at home

Character Comparison

tiān
heavens

=

一 + 大
ceiling + large
Character Notes

large person grows and grows until his head reaches the ceiling and then the heavens

Character Comparison

chū
exit [v.]

=

山 + 山
mountain + mountain
Character Notes

exit through a pass between two mountains

Character Comparison

can [aux. v.]

=

丁 + 口
nail + mouth
Character Notes

“I think I can, I think I can,” Little Engine spitting nails

Character Comparison
叮dīng sting

oneself, *nose

=

丶 + 目
drop + eye
Character Notes

your nose is the drop between your eyes; Chinese people refer to themselves by pointing at their nose

Character Comparison

dòng
move [v.]

=

云 + 力
cloud + muscle
Character Notes

a goddess moves the clouds with her muscles

Character Comparison

ground [n.]

=

土 + 也
soil + scorpion
Character Notes

scorpion lives in the ground

Character Comparison

běn
notebook

=

木 + 一
tree + one
Character Notes

slice out of trunk becomes a notebook

Character Comparison

xià
below

=

一 + 卜
ceiling + magic wand
Character Notes

magic wand hovering below the ceiling

Character Comparison
上shàng above

shàng
above

=

卜 + 一
magic wand + floor
Character Notes

magic wand hovering above the floor

Character Comparison
下xià below

miàn
face-to-face

=

百 + 目
hundred + eye
Character Notes

face-to-face interview: a hundred eyeballs on you OR 面 also means "noodles": picture a hundred eyeballs tossed in your noodles

Character Comparison

fāng
direction, *compass

=

丶 + 万
drop + ten thousand
Character Notes

ten thousand directions on a compass, moves by a drop

Character Comparison

nán
male

=

田 + 力
field + muscle
Character Notes

males are more field power

Character Comparison

jiā
add

=

力 + 口
muscle + mouth
Character Notes

add muscle to what your mouth says OR you add muscle to the story (exaggerate) with your mouth

Character Comparison

happiness

=

礻 + 畐fú
Eastern altar + rich man
Character Notes

Dear Ancestors, I would like the full-belly and full-wallet kind of happiness this year.

Character Comparison

zài
at

=

𠂇 + 丨 + 土
by one's side + stick + soil
Character Notes

 Brigham Young, first governor of Utah, puts his stick in the soil and declares the Salt Lake Valley as “the place” for settlement.

Character Comparison

yǒu
possess

=

𠂇 + 月
by one's side + body part/moon
Character Notes

you possess the body parts by your side OR Despicable Me villain wants to possess the moon OR John Swigert Jr. was one of the astronauts on the Apollo 13 moon mission.

Character Comparison

bāo
wrap [v.]

=

勹bāo + 已
bound up + snakeskin
Character Notes

package wrapped in snakeskin

Character Comparison

wàn
ten thousand

=

一 + 勹
one + bound up
Character Notes

the Chinese bind up big numbers at 10,000

Character Comparison

jiāng
Yangtze

=

氵 + 工
water + I-beam/work
Character Notes

Yangtze is a working river OR 3 Gorges Dam built of I-beams

Character Comparison

bái
white

=

丶 + 日
drop + sun
Character Notes

a drop of sunshine: white light

Character Comparison

fish [n.]

=

⺈ + 田 + 一
mask + field + floor
Character Notes

picture of a fish OR associated with fishing while tending fields (which were traditionally divided by water), a fish on the floor of a boat

Character Comparison

gōng
public [adj.]

=

八 + 厶
eight + monument
Character Notes

public bus #8 goes to the monument

Character Comparison

tái
platform

=

厶 + 口
monument + mouth
Character Notes

at the mouth of the monument, they’ve set up a stage

Character Comparison

yún
cloud

=

二 + 厶
two + monument
Character Notes

two stripes of clouds over a monument OR alternatively: one + Great Wall, pollution cloud over the Great Wall

Character Comparison

piào
ticket

=

西 + 示
Wild West + altar
Character Notes

buy tickets to a Wild West show featuring a shotgun wedding at the altar of the town church OR To the west of the altar is where they sell tickets to tour the cathedral.

Character Comparison

jiǔ
liquor

=

氵 + 酉
water + whiskey bottle
Character Notes

it's not water in the whiskey bottle

Character Comparison

西

west, *Wild West

=

酉 - 一
whiskey bottle - “whiskey”
Character Notes

empty whiskey bottle on the streets of the Wild West

Character Comparison

yào
want [v.]

=

西 + 女
Wild West + woman
Character Notes

poster in the Wild West Wanted: Women” OR Western women want it all: family, career, etc.

Character Comparison
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