Chinese etymology

Yesterday I found a useful looking website about Chinese Etymology which shows variant forms of characters including Oracle Bone characters (甲骨文 jiăgŭwén), Bronze characters (金文 jīnwén) and Grass script characters (草書 căoshū). Some characters have many forms in the older versions of the Chinese script – up to 50 or so in some cases.

It also has information about the etymology and history of characters and written Chinese.

Another useful website I came across recently is a Chinese text annotation tool, which adds pop-up annotations containing pinyin transcriptions and English translations when you move your cursor over the characters in a Chinese text. The annotations can be applied to web pages or to Chinese texts pasted in the box on that site.

5 thoughts on “Chinese etymology

  1. The first one is real very useful. We can see the evolution of the caracter, which is very interesting.
    The second one, I didn’t find too cool.

  2. mondain – that’s the title of the site, and I couldn’t think of another term for the evolution of Chinese characters.

  3. I’m just beginning to learn Mandarin. I checked out the website that give pinyin annotations — it also has a somewhat comprehensive dictionary. I tried typing YI and NI and was surprised at the sheer number of character matches … more than 40 for NI (I think). Does a native Mandanrin speaker know most, if not all of these matches for that single SYLLABLE (albeit at different tones) My dictionary has only 10 entries for NI, and that includes all the four tones, and the dictionary claims to be “comprehensive”.

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