February 28, 2016


Pictograms are Chinese characters which really look like pictures of what they represent. 人 'person' for instance, is a picture of a person, 女 'woman' is a picture of a woman and 月 'moon' is a picture of a moon.


The problem with pictograms is, that since they consist of only a couple of strokes, at first glance it isn't always clear what they represent. The reason for that is, that they were created a long time ago (2500+ years ago) and they changed visually very much. When they were created, these characters resembled what they represented much more. 

Pictograms are fairly simple to understand, because basically, you should know what they mean by simply looking at them. The thing is, characters like this are quite rare and there are very few of them left (about 50 very frequent ones). The few that are left are very frequently used, so you can see them often, but as a character type, they are very rare. 

This series of articles will be an end result of a project which I have been working on for over three and a half years. I will be publishing a book on Chinese characters and wanted to give you a glimpse of what will be inside as well ask you for any comments or suggestions you might have to make the book as enjoyable and useful as possible. 

In line with my philosophy of minimalism and effectivisim, the book will be very clean and easy to use, combining the absolutely best modern Chinese character research with the best learner experience. 

A lot of time and effort has been put into transforming the complicated research data into easy to understand 'look once, understand immediately' chunks. No clutter, or lumping of information onto the reader. Just an enjoyable learning experience.

For more information and regular updates about this and my other projects feel free to subscribe to my mailing list


  1. 月 'moon' is a picture of a moon.
    No, 月 as a character component can also mean 'flesh'.

  2. Well, you yourself wrote it in your comment. 月 'as a character component' can mean 'flesh', not as a standalone character. The article is about standalone character types called pictograms, not character components. When 月 is a character component, of course it either means 'flesh' in which case it is an arbitrary simplification of 肉 rou4 'meat, flesh' in characters like 股腫胖胞脾臂膚膏 etc. and sometimes it means 'moon' in characters like 明期 etc.

  3. 嗯,如果你仔細看的話會發現,月和偏旁的肉部是長的不一樣的。月裡面是平行的兩橫,而肉部裡面是往下和往上的兩撇。雖然一般人在書寫的時候不會刻意區分,但也不能因此積非成是的說臂、膚、膏是屬於月部。相信我,在中文字典裡的月部是查不到這些字的,畢竟它們和月亮可一點關係都沒有。

    1. 我知道,但這好像只要是繁體字才會有這種區別。簡體字沒有。

    2. 簡體字中的月跟肉的部首寫法還是不同的,也應該是不同,倘若發現月肉不分,那就代表不是電腦字體設計錯誤,不然就是人的筆誤,目前所接觸到的簡體字來說,似乎還沒看到把部首簡化掉的例子。
      從另一方面來說,大多簡體字其實早就存在了,例如 陽的簡體 "阳",早在明朝 字學三正 中就已經出現 (請參考 http://dict.variants.moe.edu.tw/yitia/sa/sa04432.htm#bm_s35 )