Last Tuesday’s Chinese Calligraphy for Beginners course saw eight of the twelve enrolled students turn up for class. One absentee, I was told, is still in Hong Kong.
As usual for the first session, we ran out of time, but there’s always next week.
One of the new students had studied Japanese and was therefore educated in recognising Chinese characters. She was puzzled to see that one of the characters that she’d learnt was written differently in the sample I supplied.
The offending character was 高 （tall）which in my sample, was expressed as below:
The reason is simple: the script that we are studying came from the Tang Dynasty and our language has changed over time. Just as Shakespeare’s sonnets would still be recited today as in Elizabethan times, students of Ouyang Xun would copy his work the way he wrote it in the year 632.
I had a similar query from another student last term. The character in question was 明， and she made a face at the Tang Dynasty version:
I have seen many books in which the word ‘bright’ was explained as a combination of the words ‘sun’ 日 and ‘moon’ 月。In fact, the word evolved from a graphic depiction of a window and a moon: