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Chinlingo Chinese character: 本

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A tree will not survive without roots or "根". One will not value the present life until he or she knows about his or her origins or "本" (běn). "本" and "" (mù) are similar characters and are closely related as well. Today, Chinlingo will tell you all about their relationship. 


Compared with "木", "本" has one more horizontal stroke, a short one in the lower part. 


In the Oracle Bone Script, "木" is in the shape of a tree. The horizontal stroke "一" represents the soil, the three strokes in the lower part represent roots in the soil, and the upper stroke represents the trunk emerging out of the soil. "本" in the Oracle Bone Script is almost the same, except for three little rings with the roots to represent rootstocks. Over time, these three rings have been connected and evolved into a short horizontal stroke "一". That's how the modern character "本" evolves. 

在甲骨文中,"木"的字形就是一颗树。横"一"是土地,下方三个笔画是埋在土里的树根。"土地"上方冒出的短 "丨"是破土而出的树干。而"本"的甲骨文如出一辙,但是在表示树根的部分多了三个小圆圈,它们表示根茎。后经演化,三个小圆圈连在了一起,组成了短 "一"。汉字"本"由此形成。

It is known that "本" meant roots of plants originally based on its origin. In modern Chinese, the original meaning has been inherited to create new words. For example, "草本" (cáo běn) refers to a herbal plant. 

由字源可知,"本"的本义是植物的根。现代汉语中,依然沿用本意来组词。比如,单词"草本"(cáo běn)指的是茎干柔软,没有木质化的植物。 

In addition, "本" has been used figuratively to refer to the "origin or foundation of something", as shown in the words like "基本" (jī běn) and "根本" (ɡēn běn), both of which mean "basic or fundamental". 

"本"还引申为"事物的源头和基础",如常用词汇,"基本"(jī běn)、"根本"(ɡēn běn)。

Also, "本" is used as a phonetic radical, as shown in "奔" (bēn: run quickly), "苯" (běn: benzene) and "笨" (bèn: stupid). 

"本"也作汉字声旁。比如,汉字"奔"(bēn:run quickly)、"苯"(běn:benzene);形声字"笨"(bèn:stupid)。

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