You probably knew that the Chinese language is composed of characters, but did you know that there is one character that refers to all the Chinese characters? Our word of this week is 字 – ‘character’.
字 is pronounced zì,
字 (zì) was first seen in Shang Dynasty. The original meaning of “character” is the conception of a child. As you can see the upper part is “宀” (bǎo gài tou), which means house ; and the lower part is “子” (zǐ ) which means children.
Eventually the meaning of “character” extended from the meaning of fertility to nurture. From nurturing to love, education and governance. Later, “character” was extended to things written in words, such as fonts, calligraphy, letters, notes, etc.
惜字如金(xī zì rú jīn)
Meaning one cherishes words as gold, so no paper or ink is wasted.
字字珠玑(zì zì zhū jī)
Literally means every character is a gem. It is used to say one’s speaking or writing is very beautiful. Sometimes it also means one’s speaking or writing is brief yet to the point.