Chinese Character Drill #4: 中 國 美 不 貓
Time for another Chinese character drill. This is the first and we are about to learn a few important characters. The characters of note in this drill are the negation character and the characters to write the names of China and the US in Chinese. After this character drill we will have covered 20 Chinese characters so far.
16. 中 (Middle)
The first Chinese character today represent middle, 中. It is one of two characters that will compose the Chinese word for China. This is a very easy character to remember. Furthermore it clearly gives you a hint of its meaning with its form. The reading of this character is zhōng
17. 國 (Country)
The second character is the character that represents country, 國. It is read as guó.
My Chinese friend told me a little story to help me learn this character. She told me this character represents everything a country needs to be a country. First it needs land, which is the big square. It will also need weapons to defend itself, represented by the lines. Furthermore a country also needs chests filled with gold to pay its people and, more importantly, its soldiers. That is represented by the smaller box inside. Maybe it helps you memorize this ‘complex’ character.
This character has a simplified version 国.
Some countries with a true Chinese name hold this character in that name, such as the US. Countries without a ‘true’ Chinese name on the other hand simply use a combination of characters that approximates the country’s native name.
This and the earlier character 中 form the Chinese word for China, 中國 [zhōngguó].
18. 美 (Nice)
The third character of today is 美. This character means nice or beautiful. You read it as měi.
However, unexpectedly this character is used to form the name of another country in Chinese, the name of the US. That name is written as 美國 [měiguó]. It seems at one time in the past the Chinese viewed the US as a beautiful country or were led to belief it to be so.
19. 不 (Not)
The following character is a rather important one, it is one of the ways to negate things in Chinese. I will be writing an entire post around this character as it is deserving of this attention. This 不 character you read as bù.
20. 貓 (Cat)
The last character we see today is 貓. It is the character for cat. You read it as māo
About this character I formed my idea. On the left, you can actually see a cat with a lot of imagination. It is hunting mice in the rice field.
A thing to highlight is one part of the character. You see a curved stroke with three smaller strokes. This pattern will reappear in a lot of characters representing animals. If you see that in a character it might just be one for an animal.
The simplified version 貓 is 猫. Essentially the mainland decapitated the cat and it lost one of its legs.