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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Basic Chinese Characters' LiveJournal:

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Friday, March 14th, 2008
9:41 am
[characterguy]


林 LIN2, forrest




Etymology: This character is a classic compound ideogram: putting two trees 木 together suggests the meaning of forrest 林.
Thursday, March 13th, 2008
9:21 am
[characterguy]


材 CAI2, timber; material




Etymology: This character shows the most common form of character construction: semantic-phonetic. The element 才 CAI2 gives the pronunciation, while 木 "wood" gives a hint at the meaning.

Mnemonic (but not the real etymology): Producing timber 材 is the talent 才 of a tree 木.
Wednesday, March 12th, 2008
9:15 am
[characterguy]


本 BEN3, root; origin

基本 JI1 BEN3, basis
本來 BEN3 LAI2, originally


The ancient (small seal) form depicts a tree with the roots emphasized:


Stroke order:
Tuesday, March 11th, 2008
11:01 am
[characterguy]


木 MU4, tree


The ancient (small seal) form depicts branches above and roots below:


Stroke order:
Monday, March 10th, 2008
9:02 am
[characterguy]


才 CAI2, talent, ability; then

才能 CAI2 NENG2, ability, talent



Friday, March 7th, 2008
9:09 am
[characterguy]


心 XIN1, heart

小心 XIAO3 XIN1, to be careful




Etymology note: This character was originally a pictogram of the heart. As a mnemonic, you might think of the three dots as drops of blood.

Usage note: When it occurs as the radical of a character, it is usually found on the left and looks like this: 忄 (e.g., 忙 快 怖 怪 悟).
Thursday, March 6th, 2008
9:31 am
[characterguy]
Weekly Theme: Characters related to body parts


口 KOU3, mouth

口袋 KOU3 DAI4, pocket
可口可樂 Ke3 kou3 ke3 le4 Coca-cola (literally, Tasty delightful)




Etymology note: This character was originally a pictogram of an open mouth. Like other characters, it was stylized by being "squared off."

Allow me to recommend chinesepod.com for aural language practice. They offer lessons for levels "newbie" to "advanced." Downloading the podcasts is free.
Wednesday, March 5th, 2008
10:01 am
[characterguy]
Weekly Theme: Characters related to body parts


毛 MAO2, hair

毛巾 MAO2 JIN1, towel
毛病 MAO2 BING4, fault





Character note: In addition to meaning "hair," this is also the character for the surname of Mao Zedong 毛澤東 毛泽东.

Allow me to recommend chinesepod.com for aural language practice. They offer lessons for levels "newbie" to "advanced." Downloading the podcasts is free.
Tuesday, March 4th, 2008
9:11 am
[characterguy]
Weekly Theme: Characters related to body parts


手 SHOU3, hand





Allow me to recommend chinesepod.com for aural language practice. They offer lessons for levels "newbie" to "advanced." Downloading the podcasts is free.
Monday, March 3rd, 2008
9:10 am
[characterguy]
Weekly theme: Characters related to body parts


又 YOU4, again

又...又... YOU4...YOU4... Both...and...




Character note: This character was originally a picture of a right hand.

Allow me to recommend chinesepod.com for aural language practice. They offer lessons for levels "newbie" to "advanced." Downloading the podcasts is free.
Friday, February 29th, 2008
1:22 pm
[characterguy]


明 MING2, to be bright

明白 MING2 BAI2, to understand
明顯 MING2 XIAN3, obvious, evident


Stroke order:


Character: This character is a compound of the characters for Sun and Moon. A useful mnemonic is that if you put the light of the Sun and Moon together, it would be very "bright."
Thursday, February 28th, 2008
9:02 am
[characterguy]


月 YUE4, Moon; month

二月 ER4 YUE4, February


Stroke order:


Character: This character was originally a pictogram of the Moon, but 太陰 TAI4 YIN1 is the current word for Moon.
Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
1:48 pm
[characterguy]


日 RI4, Sun; day; Japan

日本 RI4 BEN3, Japan
日記 RI4 JI4, diary


Stroke order:


Character: This character was originally a pictogram of the Sun, but 太陽 TAI4 YANG2 is the current word for Sun.
Tuesday, February 26th, 2008
10:18 am
[characterguy]
Weekly theme: Characters for nature


川 CHUAN1, river

四川 SI4 CHUAN1, Sichuan province


Stroke order:


Character note: This character was originally a pictograph of water running between the riverbanks.
Monday, February 25th, 2008
10:32 am
[characterguy]


山 SHAN1, mountain

山東 SHAN1 DONG1, Shandong Province
山西 SHAN1 XI1, Shanxi Province
山頂 SHAN1 DING3, mountaintop


Stroke order:


Character note: This character was originally a pictograph of mountain peaks.
Friday, February 22nd, 2008
9:47 am
[characterguy]


好 HAO3, to be good; HAO4, to be fond of

你好! NI3 HAO3! Hi!
你好嗎? NI3 HAO3 MA? How are you?
我很好. WO3 HEN3 HAO3. I'm fine.


Stroke order:


Character note: This is the first character we have learned that is a compound of two other characters: 女 and 子. The folk etymology of this character is that it is "good" for a woman to be with her child (or that a woman is "fond of" her child).
Thursday, February 21st, 2008
9:15 am
[characterguy]


女 NÜ3, woman

女人 NÜ3 REN2, woman
女士 NÜ3 SHI4, Ms.; woman (more polite term)
女兒 NÜ3 ER2, daughter
女朋友 NÜ3 PENG2 YOU3, girlfriend


Wednesday, February 20th, 2008
11:40 am
[characterguy]


子 ZI3, child; (nominal suffix)

孩子 HAI2 ZI, child
桌子 ZHUO1 ZI, table
椅子 YI3 ZI, chair


Stroke order:



Character note: Notice that 子 has only one more stroke than 了.
Tuesday, February 19th, 2008
9:12 am
[characterguy]


了 LE [aspect marker]; LIAO3 to end; to understand

sentence-了 (indicates a new situation)
現在東西貴了。 XIAN4 ZAI4 DONG1 XI GUI4 LE. Things are expensive nowadays.

verb-了 (indicates the action is completed)
我吃了飯就走。 WO3 CHI1 LE FAN4 JIU4 ZOU3. I'll leave right after I finish eating.

我吃不了。 WO3 CHI1 BU4 LIAO3. I can't finish eating it. I'm full.

了解 LIAO3 JIE3, to understand
了不起 LIAO3 BU4 QI3, terrific, extreme



Stroke order:


Usage note: 了 LE is one of the hardest words for English-speakers to master. My advice is to memorize lots of sentences in which it occurs until you get an intuitive feel for when to use it.
Monday, February 18th, 2008
10:34 am
[characterguy]


不 BU4, not


Stroke order:


Usage note: The tone shifts from fourth to second before a syllable in the fourth tone:

你要喝茶嗎? NI3 YAO4 HE1 CHA2 MA? Would you like some tea?
我不要喝茶。 WO3 BU2 YAO4 HE1 CHA2. I do not want any tea.
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