Etymological Misrepresentation

Hey you, pop quiz. What shits me the most that I have to blog about it at 1 a.m despite not having an Internet connection at home yet * This post was brought to you by a better-than-the-iPhone HTC Desire tethered on a Telstra connection ? If you guessed religious evangelists, you guessed right.

You know, for all the honesty and good that they supposedly preach and represent their religions, religious evangelists can be quite dishonest. They are willing to lie and misinform people. And that seriously shits me.

So what happened was this: someone sent me a link to a Christian apologetics site that claimed that Chinese characters proved the Bible’s authenticity. Accordingly the ancient Chinese people  worshipped the Christian god, and that the evidence is in the characters.

Here, I shall dissect the person’s bad arguments and then proceed to tear them to pieces. One by one. I shall be using Richard Sears’ very very awesome Chinese Etymology site (and seriously, we should donate some money to this guy, who put up 20 years worth of research up online FOR FREE). The lower the characters, the older they are – as you scroll down the page, you’ll see a word reverting back to its original form.

Let’s begin.

was the first word they explained. It means “to move”. Pronounced qian1. The claim was that the characters were made up of the word big (大), west (西),  what they claim to mean division (已;巳;己;乜), and the radical usually associated with movement (辶). The story they claim is that since the fall of the Tower of Babel, the Chinese people moved from the west towards the east, and recorded down their history.

You immediately see a problem. The word they claim to mean division doesn’t exist.  Out of the four examples I listed above, in order, they mean: indicating past tense; a period of time between 9-11 a.m; indicate self; not a word (it’s a pronunciation guide). This is the actual etymology of the word. Note that in some of the earlier forms, the character itself cannot be split into what was claimed.

The next word they attempted was the large word to the right of this sentence. It means “to report”. Pronounced gao4. The claim made was that it comprised of dirt (土), mouth (口) and a radical that they claim means ‘alive’ (丿).  The story according to them is that men (the mouth) were made alive from dirt, to report back to god.

Again, if anyone knows anything about the Chinese language, they’d immediately see a problem: the radical 丿has no meaning. It is quite literally a stroke. No more no less. The actual etymology of the word 告 is quite interesting. It is one of those words that had rarely change over the years, and it goes back all the way to the early Zhou dynasty days (circa 2000 BCE).

The next contention I have is over a very common word, most commonly seen during Chinese New Year. It means “prosperity” * more or less . It’s pronounced fu2. The claim: the radical they claim to mean god (礻), one (一), mouth/man (口), garden (田). The story is that once upon a time, man and god were one in a garden, and man was happy (prosperous).

Again, a problem is noted – the radical they claim to mean the Christian god (礻) is merely a radical. It doesn’t mean anything. Yes, it is a signific radical used in a lot of words closer to the spiritual spectrum of things (the root word for this radical being 示 which means altar), but it does not mean or represent god. It is just a damn bloody few strokes. The actual etymology of the word 福 is more interesting, however. At a few points in time the words were flipped, the radical on the right instead of the left. At a few points in time there was the roof radical over the word.

There were some other words where they kept using the female signific radical  to indicate something incredibly sexist (you should read the bible if you think that Christianity is not sexist). I won’t comment on those because my blood boils when reading their shitty excuses for an explanation. All I can say is projection much?

The next word that is patently laughable in their explanation is the word for boat. It means boat/ship. Pronounced chuan2. The claim is that it is comprised of eight (八), people (口), boat/canoe (舟). The story is of course, Noah’s Ark, carrying eight people on a boat.

The problem? Let me show you the same character, only enlarged:

And this is how an old Chinese boat looks like:

A chinese boat, courtesy of

Look at the boat and imagine it from the stern. Now imagine a plan (top-down) view of this). You’ve just seen the pictorial components of the character 船.

Now, I bid thee good night, I had wanted to rant on about how inethical they are, to use these sorts of things to try to gain more Chinese converts. I find it very offensive. But I shall say no more for my blood pressure is rising again.

So, good night.

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