会意文字 - Kanji that tell a story
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Simply speaking, 会意文字 are kanji made of multiple individual components that, when put together, end up assuming a larger meaning. Often these kanji can tell us some kind of story, or we can use a mnemonic to better remember their shape and meaning at the same time. 休 looks like a man (人 -> 亻) resting under a tree (木) and it means “to rest”.
Same as with 象形文字, these kanji have also gone through a lot of simplifications and changes, so some of these examples might not be super obvious immediately.
- 木 + 木 + 木 = forest!
- 日 + 月. The sun and the moon are bright. It means bright.
- 田 (field) + 力 (strength). Men use their strength to work the field.
- 人 (亻, person) + 立 (to stand up). It means place (among people), ranking, social position.
- The left side is a person (亻) and the right side comes from an archaic version of the kanji for child (子). It is a person carrying a child on their back. It means to raise, to support, or protect.
- Again, left side is a person (亻), right side is the number 2 (二). It means two people close to each other, it signifies affection, charity, compassion.
- Composed by the radical for legs 儿 and the kanji 之 which is an old form for footprints. It represents the footprints of people that came before us, and it means “before” or “ahead”.