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The Chinese character for “she" or "her" is 她 [tā]. The use of this character with this particular meaning started relatively late, in the early 20th century. At that time, three old Chinese characters - 他, 她, 它 - were reinvented to serve as third-person references in vernacular Chinese. 他 means "he" or "him." 她 refers to a woman, "she" or "her." 它 indicates a non-human object.
The Chinese character 他 acquired the specific meaning of "he" or "him" relatively late. In the old days, the word simply meant "other" or "others."
The origin of the character can be traced back to another character.
The Chinese word for "you" was originally drawn as an image that depicts arrows pointing in one direction. The concept of "you" seems to have been defined in terms of antagonism between self and other. The word, however, has long since lost its original hint of hostility and emerged as a simple neutral reference to second person.
As it was written originally, the Chinese character for "I" or "me" appeared as a weapon held up vertically, with its ax-like head pointing away. Self-identity seems to be defined in man's difference from and hostility toward others. This is unfortunate but true of the human condition.
The Chinese character for "High" originally was drawn as a picture of a tower, a multi-level building. The one shown below is found on a bronze vessel cast over two thousand years ago.
Nobody likes the idea, but it is an unavoidable part of our life - people, situations and ideas that are "bad." The Chinese character for that notion is 坏. Back in the Han Dynasty 2,000 years ago, the word was written like the following ...
The idea of "good," along with its undesirable and yet unavoidable opposite, "bad," is one of the basic concepts in human life. How do the Chinese say and write "good"?
The Chinese character for State or Country was originally drawn as a territory protected with a dagger ax. It is now written as treasure protected with an enclosing defensive wall. No wonder the Chinese built the Great Wall.
The Chinese character for home shows a roof with a pig under it. This resulted from the fact that in ancient times men their domesticated animals lived together. 家 is also used to refer to some expert or master in a trade or art. This arose from the fact that in the old days, certain professions were kept in the family, 家.
The Chinese character for "woman" was originally drawn as, well, a woman sitting on the floor, with her hands crossed in front of her. A daughter is literally a "female son." The chacter 女，"woman," also appears in other characters to indicate gender, like the word for "wife."
The Chinese character for "man" consists of two parts. The top part is a symbol for farm fields; the lower part is in the shape of a plow. Put together, these two radicals make the new word 男, with the meaning of "man." In other words, a man is someone who tills the land.
History was a matter of life and death. It took four brothers to keep one entry in the chronicle of the Qi State. Keeping the record straight has been important to the Chinese as a people.
The Grand Emperor hated the man's guts. He got so infuriated sometimes that he swore that he would kill him. Yet, he continued to promote the man, appointing him a chief councilor.
Whereas the Chinese language is based on characters, many concepts in the language are expressed through combinations of two or more characters, two being most common. The Chinese term for "history" is one such case.
We previously took a look at the Chinese character for "above," 上, which, in its original form, indicates the idea of above by placing a shorter line on top of a longer line. The Chinese word for "below" or "under was created in the same way. On ancient oracle bones, the word is made of a shorter line placed beneath a longer line.
The Chinese phrase "ma shang" - "on horseback" - has the meaning of "immediately," "in no time." The literal meaning of the term is "on horseback." In ancient times riding a horse was the fastest way to travel, so "on horseback" in Chinese acquired the meaning of "speedily" or "instantly."
His historical work, three million words in length, is one of the most important readings in China, and he is also widely known for saving the life of a little friend when he himself was but a small boy. And served as the prime minister of the country too.
Yang volunteered his service to help Duke Xiao of Qin to strengthen his realm. The man must first convince the duke to employ him and then convince the people in the state that he meant what he said.
Sheep and goats are both 羊 in Chinese. Guangzhou is nicknamed "Goats City," and the Chinese also call that particular kind of trimmed beard that some men keep on their chin "goatee."
The jealous king ordered his younger brother to come up with a poem upon walking just seven steps. Failure would mean death. The quick-witted prince managed to save his head and left behind a quatrain well known to the Chinese.
The Chinese character for oxen or cows is 牛. Cattle were important in traditional farming, but the Chinese did not drink much milk. The Cowherd and the Weaving Girl are the two legendary loves who live across the Milky Way and only see each other only once a year.
"Looking at flowers in the field from atop a pacing horse." That you should not do. "Pat the horse on its ass"? Well, we all do that now and then.
It is a traditional tune rendered with a modern twist, featuring traditional Chinese zithers called Qin and Zheng. The artists called themselves "Self-Entertained Zither Group," who have recently become popular for their reinvention of old Chinese music, done with players dressed in the style of the Tang Dynasty.
The Chinese character for "pig" evolved over time, but the reputation of the swine has not improved at all. The word continues to be associated with undesirable qualities such as filthiness, lethargy, and gluttony. So unfair, considering that pork makes such an important part of the Chinese diet.
Sun Wu the military strategist volunteered his service to King Helu. The King asked the general to train some of his court ladies as if they were soldiers. How did that go? Some say what Sun did was horrifying but others say he did what a military man should do in times of chaos and war.
Confucius felt obliged to pay a visit to an official of his home state. He chose a time to drop by at the official's residence when the official was not at home. Confucius had his reasons.
In this skit, a Chinese Peking-opera singer appears as Jack in Titanic, swearing his love for Kate. "If you don't love me, I'll jump into the Chinese," he croons, in a tune typical of Peking opera. We're sure that Kate would have been convinced.
When Confucius taught, he taught based on his understanding of his students. In his methodology, just as in his philosophy generally, humanity is important.
Funny singing in the style of Peking-opera. Tang Sanzang, the Buddhist monk, explains to monsters why they should not play their tricks on him and how he, riding his White Dragon Horse, is determined to travel to West Heaven to bring holy sutras back to China.
Big toys, mega projects. This video shows how Chinese workers build a viaduct that is part of a high-speed rail, using a specially designed monstrous vehicle to get their work done quickly.