The moon radical

9/21/11 The moon radical

In Chinese culture, autumn is symbolized by the moon, the chrysanthemum flowers, the tinted maple leaves, as well as the cool autumn wind. Let’s first talk about the moon. The crescent moon character, (yuè), serves as the radical for a number of Chinese words.

You already know that (míng) means brightness, illumination and clarity.

Place two moons together side by side, and you get the word for friends, (péng).

(qī) is a time period, as in 星期 (xīngqī a week). 长期 (chángqī) means long-term. 期望 (qíwàng) means to expect; as a noun it means an expecation.

Tā chángqī zhù zài wàiguó.
He lives abroad on a long-term basis.

Wǒ duì tā yǒu hěn dà de qíwàng.
I have high hopes for him.

(zhāo) is the formal word for morning or day. (cháo), the same word pronounced differently, means a dynasty or an emperor’s court, such as in 汉朝 (Hàn Cháo) , the Han Dynasty.

(cháo) is also used as the adverb “toward”. In this sense, it is equivalent to (duì). Please note, however, that (duì) has a number of other usages that are not shared by (cháo).

Tā cháo wǒ kàn le yī yǎn.
He cast a glance toward me.

Tā duì wǒ kàn le yī yǎn.
He cast a glance toward me.

The character, (ròu flesh, meat), kind of sounds like “row”, but make sure you pronounc it in the commanding 4th tone. Many Chinese characters that refer to muscles, organs, the abdomen and the limbs contain the “flesh” radical, as shown in the following examples:

(liǎn) is the face. (diū) is to lose or to throw. So, 丢脸 (diūliǎn) means losing face.

肌肉 (jīròu) are muscles. Yes, this sounds just like chicken meat, 鸡肉 (jīròu).

(gān) is the liver. The term, 心肝 (xīngān), contains two vital organs. It is the Chinese equivalent of “darling” or “sweathart”.

(cháng) are the intestines. 心肠 (xīncháng) represents what one feels in one’s heart.

Tā xīncháng hǎo.
She has a good heart.

肚子 (dùzi) is the belly. 腹部 (fùbù) is a more formal word for the abdomen.

Tā dùzi tòng.
She has belly ache.

肩膀 (jiānbǎng) are the shoulders, 胳臂 (gēbei) are the arms, and (zhǒu) are the elbows.

(tuǐ) are the legs, 膝盖 (xīgài) are the knees, and (jiǎo) are the feet.

(pàng) is an adjective that means chubby or plump.

Tā shēng le yī gè pàng wáwa.
She gave birth to a chubby baby.

Anyone can see that the “flesh” radical looks just like a skinnier “moon” radical. So how can you tell if a Chinese word contains the moon radical or the flesh radical? Simply ask yourself this question, “Does this involve anything related to the moon or a time period?” If so, it’s the “moon” radical. Also, generally, the “flesh” radical is placed on the left side of a word, while the “moon” radical shows up on the right side. If you don’t think it’s a big deal to be able to make a distinction between these two radicals, since they look almost identical, neither do I.


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