Learn Chinese word radical – Hair

Shapes

Various Shapes

The simple, pictorial Chinese radical represents hair or tassels. It is pronounced shān or xiān, but you don’t have to worry about the pronunciation, as you are not likely to encounter this symbol as a stand-alone character in ordinary books and documents.

The radical is found in numerous Chinese characters, many of which are out of circulation. Therefore, we will only discuss those that are commonly used in everyday speech.

In Traditional Chinese, the character for hair is (fǎ), which features the hair radical. Unfortunately, this character was replaced by in Simplified Chinese, and one no longer sees the strokes representing the tassels. So, the hair on your hair is 头发 (tóufa). The hair on your body and head is referred to as 毛发 (máofà). 发型 (fàxíng) means hair style or coiffure, 短发 (duǎnfǎ) is a short haircut, and 假发 (jiǎfà fake hair) is a wig.

理发 (lǐfà) is to have or get a hair cut, while 刮胡子 (guā húzi) means to shave one’s beard. The Traditional Chinese word for beards, moustache or whiskers is 鬍鬚 (húxū) or 鬍子 (húzi). Here again, you can see that the radical is absent from the Simplified Chinese word for beards. A moustache that has its ends grown much longer and often flared out is called a 八字胡 (bāzìhú) because it reminds one of the Chinese word for “eight”.

Not all men sport a beard. Rather, they shave their face. The action of shaving one’s face is called 修面 (xiū miàn). Please note that here (miàn) refers to the face rather than noodles. This is one of the ambiguities created by Simplified Chinese, which sometimes oversimplifies.

(xiū) as a verb is to repair, mend, embellish, trim or prune. The word commonly used for repairing is 修理 (xiūlǐ).

必须 (bìxū), or 须要 (xūyào), means to have to, or must. For example,

我的车子须要修理.
Wǒde chēzi xūyào xiūlǐ.
My car needs to be repaired.

Note that 需要 (xūyào) is a homonym of 须要 (xūyào); it means to need or to want.

孩子们需要父母的爱护.
Háizǐ men xūyào fùmǔ de àihù.
Children need the parents’ love and caring.

As the needle leaves of the fir tree resemble strands of hair, fir trees are called 杉树 (shān shù). 文质彬彬 (wénzhìbīnbīn) is a phrase often used to describe a cultivated, gentle person, who is likened to a graceful fir tree.

We encountered the (shān garment) character when we talked about the “clothes” radical on 2/15/12. Do you still remember that a shirt is called 衬衫 (chènshān)?

The character (cǎi) can take on a number of different meanings. For example, 色彩 (sècǎi) means color; 彩色的 (cǎisè de), or 五彩 (wǔcǎi), means multicolored; 彩霞 (cǎixiá) are rosy clouds; 彩虹 (cǎihóng) is a rainbow; 水彩 (shuīcǎi) is watercolour; 精彩 (jīngcǎi) means splendid; 喝彩 (hècǎi) means applause or cheer; 挂彩 (guàcǎi) means to decorate for festive occasions, or to be wounded in action.

As an adjective (zhēn) means rare, precious or valuable. As a noun, it means a treasure. 珍珠 (zhēnzhū) are pearls. The American writer and novelist Pearl S. Buck’s Chinese name is 赛珍珠 (Sài zhēnzhū).

疹子 (zhěnzi) is a rash. 麻疹 (mázhěn) are measles.

诊断 (zhěn duàn) is to examine a patient and make a diagnosis.

(xíng) is a form, a shape, an entity or a situation.

形状 (xíngzhuàng) is the shape or appearance of an item. 方形 (fāngxíng) is a square; 圆形 (yuánxíng) is a round shape; 半月形 (bànyuèxíng) is a crescent. 变形 (biànxíng) means to become deformed.

隐形 (yǐnxíng) means invisible. Therefore, 隐形眼镜 (yǐnxíngyǎnjìng) are contact lenses (i.e. invisible eyeglasses).

形容 (xíngróng) means to describe. Therefore, 形容词 (xíngróngcí) are adjectives. This is a good time to review how to use the many adjectives listed in Chapters 8, 9 and 10 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes”.

情形 (qíngxíng) circumstances; situation; condition; state of affairs.

参加 (cānjiā) means to join, take part in or attend. 参考 (cānkǎo) means to refer to or to consult. So, 参考书 (cānkǎoshū) are reference books.

, when pronounced as (shēn), refers to ginseng. Asian ginseng is called 人参 (rénshēn) because its root resembles the (rén) character. 西洋参 (xīyángshēn) refers to American ginseng, which differs from the Asian ginseng with respect to herbal properties.

The Monkey King in Chinese

Talking about (wù enlightenment) reminds me of a character in a major Chinese novel written during the Ming Dynasty. This book is titled “西游记 (Xīyóujì), often translated as “Journey to the West”. The general plot of this fantasy novel is not unlike that of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, involving a journey on which the main character is aided by a number of other characters. However, “西游记 (Xīyóujì), 100 chapters long, features many more varied characters, mystical creatures, demons and seemingly endless episodes.

The principal character in “西游记 (Xīyóujì) is a monk, and the objective of his journey is to acquire sacred texts of Buddhism from 印度 (yìndù India). You can find a well written summary at this link.

Each of the main characters in the novel serves to illustrate a certain set of human characteristics. Let’s see if we can use some of the adjectives listed in Chapter 8 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” to describe the personalities of these characters.

The monk, 唐三藏 (Táng Sānzàng), is dedicated to his cause. He is idealistic and benevolent, but his defenselessness and impracticality are often taken advantage of by the team’s adversaries.

唐三藏心地善良, 但是无能.
Táng Sānzàng xīndì shànliáng, dànshì wúnéng.
Tang Sanzang is of a kindhearted nature, but incompetent.

The most capable and the most interesting of the monk’s three disciples is a mystical monkey born out of a rock. He becomes the Monkey King, 猴王 (hóu wáng), and receives training from a mentor, who gives him the name 悟空 (Wùkōng). As the word (sūn) also means monkeys, the author humorously assigned to this monkey the common Chinese surname (sūn grandson). At this link is a section of cartoon with helpful English subtitles that describes the early days in the life of the Monkey King. See if you can catch a few Chinese words here and there.

If you would like to see in animation how 孙悟空 (Sūn Wùkōng) meets up with the monk, you could watch the following two videos in English. (Video 1, Video 2) In these videos, Sun Wukong is referred to as Goku because this is how 悟空 (Wùkōng) is pronounced in Japanese

With a name like 悟空 (Wùkōng), which means being enlightened to the nothingness of life, Sun Wukong is, however, anything but. He has to get involved in any and everything, jumping at every opportunity to utilize his prowess to right the wrongs.

孙悟空聪明, 能干, 勇敢, 但是时常冲动.
Sūn Wùkōng cōngmíng, nénggàn, yǒnggǎn, dànshì shícháng chōngdòng.
Sun Wukong is clever, capable and brave, but often acts impulsively.

他是许多男孩儿心中的英雄.
Tā shì xǔduō nánháir xīn zhòng de yīngxióng.
He is the hero in the heart of many young boys.

One cannot help but chuckle when thinking about the second disciple who takes on the form of a hog. This 猪八戒 (Zhū Bājiè) represents many human faults – avarice, laziness and sensualism, which are counterbalanced by his amicable personality, straightforwardness and extraordinary physical strength.

猪八戒懒惰, 好吃, 但是强壮, 热情.
Zhū Bājiè lǎnduò, hàochī, dànshì qiángzhuàng, rèqíng.
Zhu Bajie is lazy and gluttonous, but strong and affectionate.

沙和尚 (Shā Héshàng) is kind of an average guy. He obeys the rules, does his duty with an even temper and takes a down-to-earth approach to solving problems. Being thus not an exciting character, he only gets a small part in the novel.

沙和尚正直, 忠实, 任劳任怨.
Shā Héshàng zhèngzhí, zhōngshí, rènláorènyuàn.
Friar Sand is upright, loyal, works hard and puts up with chiding and criticism.

The idiom, 任劳任怨 (rènláorènyuàn), could be translated as “being willing to put one’s nose to the grindstone”.

In reality, each one of us probably has some of the above-mentioned personality traits. Hopefully our strengths will compensate for our weaknesses and help us eventually achieve our individual goals.

%d bloggers like this: