Learn one Chinese Character a day - "明" (学习)
As what we have partially mentioned before, Chinese characters are developed based on six principles, referring to the famous book "说文解字"
象形 xiàngxíng: Pictographs, in which the character is a graphical depiction of the object it denotes. Examples: 人 rén "person", 日 rì "sun", 木 mù "tree/wood".
指事 zhǐshì: Indicatives, or ideographs, in which the character represents an abstract notion. Examples: 上 shàng "up", 下 xià "down", 三 sān "three".
會意/会意 huìyì: Logical aggregates, in which two or more parts are used for their meaning. This yields a composite meaning, which is then applied to the new character. Example: 東/东 dōng "east", which represents a sun rising in the trees.
形聲/形声 xíngshēng: Phonetic complexes, in which one part—often called the radical—indicates the general semantic category of the character (such as water-related or eye-related), and the other part is another character, used for its phonetic value. Example: 晴 qíng "clear/fair (weather)", which is composed of 日 rì "sun", and 青 qīng "blue/green", which is used for its pronunciation.
轉注/转注 zhuǎnzhù: Transference, in which a character, often with a simple, concrete meaning takes on an extended, more abstract meaning. Example: 網/网 wǎng "net", which was originally a pictograph depicting a fishing net. Over time, it has taken on an extended meaning, covering any kind of lattice; for instance, it can be used to refer to a computer network.
假借 jiǎjiè: Borrowing, in which a character is used, either intentionally or accidentally, for some entirely different purpose. Example: 哥 gē "older brother", which is written with a character originally meaning "song/sing", now written 歌 gē. Once, there was no character for "older brother", so an otherwise unrelated character with the right pronunciation was borrowed for that meaning.
“明” is a Chinese character created with the combination of "日" (Sun) and "月" (Moon). It is a typical Logical aggregates character. Without checking the evolution history of it, we can already start to explain and extend its meanings.
Since “明” is he combination of "日" (Sun) and "月" (Moon) in the same word, it is to be "Bright".
And in a bright environment, you can see your surroundings clearly, so “明” is extended to mean "Understand" as a verb and "Clearly / Publicly" as adv.
And for “明” contains "日" and "月", if we see the Sun then the Mood, it means that one day has passed and it will be next day already. so “明” is also used to mean “Next” when it is used together with time related characters. Like 明日, recall that 日 can also mean "Day" besides "the Sun", 明日 means "Tomorrow".
Now let us see what is the evolution history of “明” (image get from http://www.vividict.com) -
As you can see early stage Oracle script of “明” -is composed by at left and at right-hand side, while now “明” with 日 at left and 月 at right.
let us end our lesson by enjoying a Chinese calligraphy with 明 inside -