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July 27, 2013

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Strokes of genius

The Chinese character 休 "xiū" consists of two parts, left and right - one means "person" and the other means "wood." Can you guess the meaning of the combination?

Maybe I'd better give you an important hint. The right part, 木 "mù" also has the meaning of "tree" in Chinese. But don't think of Pinocchio. Now, here's the Chinese ancestors' logic: The character休 "xiū," describing "a person leaning on a tree," indicates "rest." For example,

休息 xiū xi

v. rest


Hǎohǎo xiūxi yíxià!

Take a good rest!

n. break


Měi jié kè zhōngjiān yǒu shí fēnzhōng xiūxi.

There are ten minutes' breaks between the lessons.

休假 xiū jià

v. have a holiday, go on a vacation


Lǎobǎn jīntiān xiūjià.

The boss is off today.

退休 tuì xiū

v. retire


Zhngguó nánrén 60 suì tuìxiū.

Chinese men retire at 60.

Besides "rest," 休 "xiū" also means "cease, give up, stop" in the words like

休会 xiū huì

v. adjourn

休学 xiū xué

v. leave of absence (from school)

休战 xiū zhàn

v./ n. truce, cease-fire

Last but not least, 休 "xiū" is the transcription of the English name "Hugh" - in case you want to chat about 休格兰特 "Xiū Gélántè" (Hugh Grant) or 休杰克曼 "Xiū Jiékèmàn" (Hugh Jackman) in Mandarin.


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