Monday, October 31, 2005

Did everyone understand my 의자 riddle?

About a month ago I posted a little riddle here. I am wondering if anyone figured it out since there were no comments about it. Anyway, here is what I was hinting at:

In Korean, the word "chair" is 의자(椅子). The Chinese character 椅(의) means 의나무 or 이나무, which is a tree with the Latin name of "Idesia Polycarpa Maxim." Here is another link. The Chinese character 子(자) means "son." Therefore, 의자 literally means "son of Idesia Polycarpa Maxim."

1 comment:

  1. Hi... I think you should not take the meaning so literal. Tha hanja or hanzi has different meanings and also grammatical functions. In this case... like in 帽子、子 stands not for "son" but as a part of lexicalization process, like in 餃子. In the other side... 吾子 is a typical word from 文言, in this case means "my son" and 子 stands for child.

    I found this also that might be interesting for you...

    X+子 may be a phrase, compound or root+suffix, which reflects the results of lexicalization or even grammaticalization during the process of disyllabification. The compounding process of X+子 is called lexicalization, while 子 further developed into a suffix is grammaticalization. From diachronic perspective, there are two findings in this paper: (1) the variety of X+子shows different degrees of lexicalization, and their characteristics are: a) the idiomatization, b) the fusion of lexical meanings, and c) semantic change caused by metaphor or metonymy; (2) the concept of semi-affix shows a continuous and gradual change of X+子 from a root of a compound into a suffix during the six dynasties. One of the functions of suffix 子 is a nominalizer; however, after checking the twenty five examples in the historical documents, only six of them are nominalized by 子, while the others are resulted from disyllabification.