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矢 | A Hidden Trick When Learning Characters!

May.25, 2020

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Is the character the most challenging part of learning Chinese?


I bet 9 out of 10 learners would say yes. But believe it or not, character learning could also be the most interesting part of your Chinese class!

Yes, indeed, when reading characters, you're in fact connecting to the world of thousands of years ago! You are actually reading stories of our Chinese ancestors through the characters!

But how to read these stories?


In this series of articles, I will reveal these secrets behind the characters to you.

Today, let's check out 矢shǐ!


As you can see from the picture, 矢 stems from the shape of an arrow. The character's meaning follows the shape.


Hsk Meaning


In HSK1-3, these 3 characters contain 矢: 知,医,矮


How can we understand the story of these 3 characters with arrows? Check them out one by one now:


① 知 zhī 

Hsk Standard


知 zhī consists of 矢 and 口


Our philosophical Chinese ancestor interprets 知 in this way: when you say what you know, the words are quick and accurate, like an arrow hitting the bullseye.


② 医 yī

医 yī consists of 矢 and 匚 


The shape of 医 is like an arrow in the box. How does "an arrow in the box" relate to "doctor"?


Here is the story: In ancient times, it is the doctor's job to pull out the arrows from the wounded and put them into a box during the war.


New Hsk


That's why the Chinese ancestor use 医, an arrow in the box to symbolize the doctor.


③ 矮 ǎi

矮 ǎi consists of 矢 and 委.


Take a look at the right part which is 委 wěi. It is composed of 禾 hé (crop)+ 女 nǚ (woman). A lady kneeling beside a withered crop, symbolizing obedience


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When you take a look at the whole character 矮 ǎi, the 矢(arrow) on the left, alongside the kneeling woman indicates her diminutive height, which is emphasized by her submissive posture


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You got 矢? Take a look at this summary to review:


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Am I right? Does it help a lot to memorize 知, 医 and 矮? Isn't it a fun way to explore Chinese with the stories and thinking behind the characters? There are way more interesting stories with characters to know. Let's reveal one by one in the future!

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