Traditional: 日 ［Rì］
MODERN MEANINGS: 1) Sun 2) Day 3) Date
Synonym: 太陽 (“sun”); 天 (“day”) Antonym: 夜 (yè, “night”)
Simple Pictogram - 象形 (xiàng xíng, "form imitation") *
Today’s character should look familiar to you! You’ve seen it many times already in some of the characters we’ve already learned (#20 時， #21 間, #24 是, #27 早, #29 晚). Indeed, the character for sun, or “日 ［Rì］” is one of the most commonly used radicals (character components) in Chinese writing. Ancient forms of this character shows a dot with a circle surrounding it: a pictograph of a sun and its surrounding light.When you see the character “日 ［Rì］”appear, there’s a high chance that the character has something to do with “time” or “light”. This range of meaning draws from the different definitions of “日”, which I’ll explore more in the example sentences below.
It’s worth knowing that today, “日 ［Rì］”is not commonly used to refer to the stand alone “sun” anymore. Instead, the word “太陽（太阳)” is used instead. Centuries ago, however, “日” was used directly to refer to the yellow sun. To illustrate this, I’ll share one of the first “唐詩”, or Tang Dynasty poems I learned as a child. It’s short and simple - and Chinese parents often teach this to young children with a hidden (or not so hidden!) agenda: to teach children not to waste their food:) You’ll see why:
TRADITIONAL 《鋤禾》李紳 (772-846)
《锄禾》| 李绅 (772-846)
《Chú hé》| Lǐ Shēn (772-846)
chú hé rì dāng wǔ, hàn dī hé xià tǔ.
Shéi zhī pán zhōngcān, lì lì jiē xīnkǔ.
《Pity the Peasants (He heaves his hoe)》| Lǐ Shēn
1 He heaves his hoe in the rice-field, under the noonday sun,
2 Onto the soil of the rice-field, his streaming sweat beads run.
3 Ah, do you or don’t you know it? That bowl of rice we eat:
4 Each grain, each ev’ry granule, the fruit of his labour done.
Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa) 譯者: 黄宏發
17th March 2010
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