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v. think about, consider, ponder
Discussion of 琢磨
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Why does the notes for 琢 say the radical is yu4 玉 when it looks like wang2 王
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Hi! Very good question! It has something to do with the historical development of these two characters 王 and 玉.
1. Back in as early as the Shang dynasty, the shapes of 王 and 玉 were quite different. If you check among the oracle bone scripts and bronze inscriptions (two of the earliest known forms of Chinese writing), 玉 and 王 look quite different;
2. Then, during the Warring States Period of ancient China, 玉 and 王 changed in a way that they started to look the same;
3. After that, during the Han dynasty, people realized the confusion and started to add a dot to distinguish the two. With a dot, it is 玉; and without, 王;
4. When it is used as a radical on the left (as part of a Chinese character), no dot was added throughout the history later. You may ask why this is the case. This is because all the 王 appearing on the left side is actually 玉. Adding a dot is considered redundant information. If you look at all the characters containing 王 on the left side, the original meanings of these characters all have something to do with jade. Examples: 珠，琼，琢，瑜, 环, 球, etc. When we say the original meanings, we often refer to “说文解字”, an early-2nd-century Chinese dictionary compiled by Xu Shen, a scholar of the Eastern Han Dynasty. For examples, 球, which means "ball" in the modern Chinese language, originally means "玉聲也" in this ancient dictionary, which translates to "sound of jade". Throughout the history, this meaning has been lost.
5. When it is used as a radical on the bottom of a Chinese character, dot is added to distinguish the meanings of radicals. Examples: 皇: the bottom is 王, not 玉; 璧、玺: the bottom is 玉, with a dot.
I hope the explanation above is useful. Let us know if you have any other questions!
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