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心字底: The Heart Radical

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Posted by Hollie from WrittenChinese.Com

To continue with our radical-ly themed blog posts and to show a bit of love to all of you Written Chinese followers, 心字底 (xīn zì dǐ), or the heart radical is this week’s choice.

The heart radical can be written in two ways; either at the bottom of a character as in (xiǎng), (wàng) and (nù) a squashed version of the character (xīn), or on the left side of the character like this: 忄as in (kuài), (yì) and (pà). This is super skinny modification of 心 and this is called 竖心旁 (shù xīn páng).

The radical of 心 is often present in characters relating to emotions, thoughts and other ‘heart’ related words. Here are some vocabulary that contain the 心  radical in both forms, and some emotionally charged sentences to try out.

 

想

  1. (xiǎng) – to think / to believe / to suppose / to wish / to want / to miss

The character of 想 has multiple meaning such as to think, miss or believe something (or someone!). 想 is composed of (xiàng) meaning appearance and of course 心 (xīn), together they create phonetics and meaning. However, the character 相 depicts a tree ( – mù) and an eye (– mù) suggesting the need to look and check for danger. The two characters together to produce 想 could refer to examining the heart or mind (think, believe, hope).

Examples:

1. 我想我已经爱上她了。(wǒ xiǎng wǒ yǐ jīng ài shàng tā le) = I believe I was already in love with her.

2.我想了很久才做出这个决定的。(wǒ xiǎng le hén jiǔ cái zuòchū zhè ge jué dìng de) = I have considered for a long time to make this decision.

3. 他想知道怎样才能完成他的工作。(tā xiǎng zhīdao zěnyàng cái néng wán chéng tā de gōng zuò) = He would like to know how he can finish his work.

4. 你的想法非常创新。(nǐde xiángfǎ fēi cháng chuàng xīn) = Your thoughts are very creative.

 

忘

  1. (wàng) – to forget / to overlook / to neglect

The character of 忘 features our 心 radical and the phonetic (wáng), which means to disappear or the death of something . Combining these two suggests that the mind is unable to function or is ‘lost’, coming to the final meaning of forget: 忘.

Example: 我忘不了以前的事。(wǒ wàng bù liǎo yǐ qián de shì. = I cannot forget things from the past.

 

怒

  1. (nù) – anger/ fury

怒 is quite an angry looking character and its meaning is also sinister. The top half of our character is probably familiar to those of you who read our previous article on 女字旁:The Female Radical, as this is (nú) meaning slave. The quite direct meaning of this character, is not to be a slave to your heart and allow your anger to control you…

Our example sentence also contains the bigram 感到 (gǎn dào) that contains ‘心字底’, meaning to have a feeling or sense about something.

Example: 他对她的做事方式感到很愤怒。(tā duì tā de zuò shì fāng shì gǎn dào hěn fèn nù.) = He was anger about the way she dealt with things.

 

愁

  1. (chóu) – to worry about/ melancholy

愁 is personally one of my favourite radical of 心 characters; derived of the character (qiū) referring to the season Autumn or Fall and our beloved 心, the character literally suggests that the heart is weighed down by the Autumn. It does not exactly mean that Autumn makes us feel down, but that it produces feelings of nostalgia as another year inevitably ends.

Example: 他经常为自己的事发愁。(tā jīng cháng wèi zì jǐ de shì fā chóu) = He often worried about his own affairs.

  1. (nín) – formal version of ‘you’

您 is the honorific version of the more commonly used (nǐ). 您 should be used when expressing respect to those older than yourself or to be courteous to people of higher rank, such as your boss or manager.

Example: 您可以好好想一想。(nín ké yǐ háo háo xiǎng yi xiǎng.) = You can think about it deeply.

 

怕

  1. (pà) – to be afraid / to fear / to dread

The variant of 心 can be seen here alongside the phonetic character (bái) meaning white. Together they literally mean ‘white heart’ referring to lack of courage.

Example: 不要害怕,相信自己可以成功。(bú yào hài pà, xiāng xìn zì jǐ ké yǐ chéng gōng) = Don’t be afraid, believe in yourself that you can succeed.

 

Don't Forget

  1. (yì) – to recollect / to remember / memory

For this character we should turn to its traditional counterpart 憶 to understand its meaning. The phonetic side of the character refers to the ‘intention of thought’, so when the additional 心 is added to become a reflection, or memory.

Example: 学校带给我很多美好的回忆。(xué xiào dài géi wǒ hěn duō méi hǎo de huí yì.) = School has given me many pleasant memories.

 

快

  1. (kuài) – rapid / quick / speed

Old forms of this character showed a hand holding a hammer or bow preparing to shoot and arrow. This combined with the 心 radical suggests that quickness depends on the mind and heart.

Example: 我们要快点完成这些作业。(wǒ men yào kuài diǎn wán chéng zhè xiē zuò yè.) = We need to finish the homework quickly.
 
The 3 Parts of the Character of Love
 

Finally I would like to look at 1 character that in its simplified version, no longer contains the 心 radical. The character for love and affection (ài) demonstrates a modern approach to notion of love, focusing more on friendship and co-operation, than love. The traditional character 愛 is made up of three parts: ‘breathe into’, the ‘heart’ and ‘gracious motion’. The simplified form combines the hand with the character for friendship to suggest a more realistic or even cynical viewpoint of love.

You can see more examples of the 心 radical and see a extensive list of Chinese character radicals in the WCC Dictionary.

heartradical

 
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Facebook Comments

  • Rose Fiorin

    THANK YOU FEISHANG HAO.

  • Cherrian Angela Chin

    This great..太好!

  • 秦始连

    Great explanations of the Chinese characters… Thanks for sharing! 很好,谢谢你!

  • Jose Maria Prieto Delgado

    Muy didáctico y entretenido.

  • Edward Quinten Hopkins

    I like this article, but I disagree with the final point about the “heart” missing from Simplified “love”.
    http://www.pinterest.com/pin/285556432595067890/

    Also, 愛 is classified under the 爪 radical, so wouldn’t it be more accurate to say it’s a feeling that claws at the heart, or maybe a struggle 爭 pulling at the heart from two above and below?

    • Thanks Edward.

      I completely agree that the 愛 character is classed under the 爪 radical: http://bit.ly/1si7JrY.
      However, I added the 爱 character to discuss the irony of the missing 心, not that it was an example of the radical.

      As to the 心 radical being present in the simplified 爱, my Written Chinese colleague who is a native Chinese speaker was taught that this part of the character highlighted in your image means friendship, not love.

      We definitely appreciate different interpretations, but I would like to add that any information on our blog and website (whilst we all make mistakes!) is taken from native Chinese speakers, teachers, books and our own Written Chinese apps.

      I hope you continue to enjoy our blog!

  • Ana María Mera

    很有意思!

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