A sneak peek into our Chinese class, by Grace Liu

This week, the new foreign teachers in our beginners Chinese class learned about two kinds of characters, Associative Compounds and Pict phonetic Characters. First, the teacher wrote 休 on the board, as the students had already learned 人 and 木. They quickly grasped the meaning of休, which is a person leaning against a tree, which extends in meaning to “having a rest”. Then they guessed the meaning of 坐(two people sitting on the ground)泪(water that flows from the eyes)卡(stuck). The students were so excited guessing characters; it was like solving riddles! So the teacher gave them another riddle: If 人 means a person, 从 means one person follows another, what does 众 mean? Does it mean one person standing above the other two, or acrobatics? They all laughed and began to think about this question. Then the teacher gave them another example: 木(tree) 林(woods) 森(forest).  At last, they came to a conclusion: characters with this kind of structure, means plenty of something. In Chinese culture, 三 always indicates a big number.

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