Does 水 mean "beautiful"?

Does 水 mean “beautiful”? I see some of my contacts using it. It sounds like there’s a story behind it.

it comes from Taigi’s suí (媠 or 嫷, according to classical dictionaries, it should sound like 隋), which is often written as 水 because they sound similar both in Taigi and Mandarin.

If you’re not familiar with Taiwanese as a language, here’s some more info to flesh it out:

Before Taiwan was handed to the Japanese in 1895, the majority of Chinese people on the island spoke – and wrote and read in – Taigi/Minnan/Hoklo. Efforts by the Japanese and then by the KMT after 1945 to discourage Taigi in favor of the “national language” left many people still fluent in the language, but they forgot a lot of the specialty characters that don’t exist in Mandarin. Now many adults will tell you “There’s no writing system for Taiwanese,” but that’s simply not true. For 400 years people used it as their primary language, including in schools and for business records. So while it’s obvious “li” = 你, ki = 去, etc., a lot of the more particular characters have been lost to time. Since people still say “sui” to mean pretty, but there is no correlate character in Mandarin, they just chose one that sounds similar.

sorry, I’m gonna do this again, but here goes.

I’ve always known 媠 and 嫷 as suí, I would read them as sui2 in Mandarin. To my surprise some online dictionary says they are supposed to be read as duo4 or tuo3.

That got me thinking, words with 隋 or the right hand side of 隋 either are read as sui2 or duo4, why is that? Below’s lists don’t contain all the characters containing 隋. I tried to find out what classical dictionaries have to say about this word. Bold text are from classical dictionary references that support the sui reading. Non-bold reference supports duo and tuo readings.

sui:
隋 :《唐韻》徒果切《集韻》杜果切,音惰。《釋文》唐果反。《廣韻》他果切《集韻》《韻會》《正韻》吐火切,音妥。
《說文》裂肉也。从肉从隓省。又《玉篇》落也。《詩·衞風·其黃而隕傳》隕,隋也。《釋文》隋,又作墮,
《廣韻》《集韻》《韻會》旬爲切,音隨。《廣韻》國名。本作隨。《轉注古音》隋,古音妥。楊堅攺隨爲隋,後人遂以隋爲隨。
《集韻》宣隹切,音綏。祭食也。或作挼。
《集韻》《韻會》翾規切,音隓。
《釋文》隋,許規反,又惠恚反。《晉語》隋其前言。《註》隋,許規反。
《集韻》土禾切,音詑。中高四下也。
又《集韻》呼恚切,音孈。
《集韻》思累切,音髓。
隨 : 《廣韻》《集韻》《韻會》旬爲切,音隋。
《唐韻正》古音旬禾反。
《史記·天官書》前列直斗口三星,隨北端兌。《註》索隱曰:隨,他果反。又與橢通。
《呂大臨曰》隨,當讀橢,圜而長也。 《正字通》俗作随。
髓: same as 膸
膸 :《玉篇》相觜切,雖上聲。
㵦 : 《集韻》思累切,音。滑也。與瀡同。
瀡 : 《廣韻》《集韻》思累切《韻會》《正韻》息委切,音髓。《集韻》髓隨切。義同。 <-- wtf? 集韻 you are just messing with people aren’t you…
䜔 : 《集韻》《類篇》旬爲切,音隨。

火遀
亻遀
飠遀

dou:
媠 : 《廣韻》他果切《集韻》《韻會》《正韻》吐火切,音妥。《集韻》吐臥切,音唾。
奴臥切,音愞。義同。努果切。 <-- new reading ngo
杜果切,音朶。《說文》不敬也。又《廣韻》《集韻》徒臥切。與惰同。
嫷 : same as 媠 and 惰
惰 : 《唐韻》徒果切《集韻》《韻會》杜果切,音垜。《說文》不敬也。本作憜,从心隋聲。《正韻》吐火切,音妥。義同。《廣韻》《集韻》《韻會》徒臥切《正韻》杜臥切。《集韻》徒禾切,音駝。一讀徒禾反,一讀徒臥反。
憜 : same as 惰
墮 : 《廣韻》徒果切《集韻》《韻會》《正韻》吐火切。《廣韻》他果切,音垛。
《廣韻》許規切《集韻》《韻會》翾規切,音孈。


橢 : 《唐韻》他果切《集韻》吐火切,音妥。《集韻》都果切《正韻》都火切,音朶。《集韻》徒禾切,音。《類篇》吾禾切。





The most interesting is the reference from 《轉注古音》.

It says 隋 was read as 妥, however, when first emperor of Sui dynasty Yang Jian (楊堅) renamed his dynasty from 隨 to 隋, he insisted 隋 should be read as 隨 as well, that’s why people reads 隋 as 隨.

As interesting as that statement is, it doesn’t seem to be the real cause for the confusion. First, multiple dictionaries also provided duo/tuo readings for 隨. If 隨 can also be read as duo. Second, most dou/tuo readings used the character 妥 to describe how 隨 and 隋 sound like, however, I can’t help but notice 《集韻》 also used the character 綏 to describe what 隋 sounds like, which supports the reading of sui.

That’s see how 綏 was supposed to be read:

綏 : 《廣韻》息遺切《集韻》《韻會》宣隹切《正韻》蘇回切,音雖。《集韻》雙隹切,音榱。《集韻》儒佳切,音蕤。《集韻》思累切,音瀡。《集韻》呼恚切,音毀。
《集韻》吐火切,音妥。《集韻》通回切,音推。妥

So the duo/sui duality exists in the very word that dictionaries used to describe what 隋 and 隨 sound like. The phenomenon seems systematic, rather than making the change because one emperor of a rather short dynasty said so.

dou and sui seems drastically different. I think the clue to the shift is in descriptions such as 旬爲切 and 旬禾反. In multiple descriptions 旬 is said to sound like 均. In that case the sound change either was similar to:

/t/ → /ts/ → /s/

/ts/ → /t/
:arrow_lower_right: /s/

anyway… way off topic… i know.

But beautifully interesting…

[quote=“hansioux”]dou and sui seems drastically different. I think the clue to the shift is in descriptions such as 旬爲切 and 旬禾反. In multiple descriptions 旬 is said to sound like 均. In that case the sound change either was similar to:

/d/ → /ts/ → /s/

/ts/ → /d/
:arrow_lower_right: /s/

anyway… way off topic… i know.[/quote]
Perhaps related to the sound shift of 壽 (shou), which once sounded like 桃 (tao)? (Hence the peach symbolizing longevity). cf. 濤 tao

[quote=“hansioux”]sui:
隋 :又《玉篇》落也。《詩·衞風·其黃而隕傳》隕,隋也。《釋文》隋,又作墮,

/t/ → /ts/ → /s/

/ts/ → /t/
:arrow_lower_right: /s/[/quote]

by the way, if it indeed started with /ts/, 墮, which means fall would have not only be synonymous with 墜, but probably were pronounced exactly the same way as well.

墜 tui / 墜 tsui / 隧 sui <- also an example of this.

水 for the sound “sui” is fine too. No matter what Hanji you use, it’s just a graphical representation of the original sound. Either one of 水and 隋 is no better than the other.

The problem is that hands-off attitudes like that hasten the death of a language. You have no idea how many people tell me 台語沒有字啦 只能用中文寫, and because of that false “fact” so many people never learn the full extent of the language. It’s very sad.

(I was at some mini-exhibit of Hakka literature with the mirses yesterday and she remarked, while looking at text written in Hakka, that “there is no writing system for Hakka,” insisting that we were looking at Guoyu. Even though there were loads of unusual characters and a few syllables written in Latin letters. Yup.)

Unless you are saying 隋, 惰, 墮 and 盜 are also mutually interchangeable in writing, I don’t agree with that statement. If the characters truly don’t make a difference, and people in the past made a fuss setting up a common understanding to separate these meanings in writing for nothing, why even bother to write any Hanji at all?

媠 is the only character in the related characters that was said to mean “beautiful” in classical dictionaries. It’s a phono-semantic compound word that doesn’t share the original meaning of 隋. The best approach to this is either separate it from the original text in writing, or use romanization to avoid confusion.

I have so far identified 4 groups of such /ts/ -> /t> -> /s/ sound change (Tailo romanization):

隋 sui / 惰 tui / 墮 tsui
隧 sui / 隊 tui / 墜 tsui
壽 siu / 濤 tô / 鑄 tsù
垂 suê, suî / 錘 tûi,thûi / 棰 tshuê, tshê

oddly it would appear the less modified characters tend to start with the /s/ sound.

The 隧 and 壽 groups are valid in Mandarin by the characters I’ve given. The first 隋 group is missing a /ts/ example in Mandarin (but I haven’t look for it).

The last example is also valid in Mandarin (Pinyin romanization):
睡 shui / 垂 cui / 錘 chui / 唾 tuo

It is also extremely interesting to note that 3 out of 4 groups contains at least one character that means falling/hanging, 墮, 墜 and 垂.

After referencing vividict.com, I found 隊 and 隋 were indeed related in oracle script.

Apparently 隊 was a dead person being throw off a cliff, as a form of ancient burial. That’s where the falling meaning comes from. Somewhere along the line a wrapping was added to the falling person radical, signifying the dead are now either wrapped or put into a coffin before thrown off a cliff. This caused later scripts to misconstrued the person radical as a pig radical 豕. Later on in Zhou dynasty, a 土 earth/ground radical was added to make 墜, probably signifying a shift in burial traditions. The burial meaning is totally last, and instead we have the extended 墜 falling, and 隊 single file meanings today. I imagine the single file meaning comes from people lining up like lemmings and pushed off the cliffs… The site used it to justify simplified Chinese form of 队 as the original form. Although in the original form it was a kid falling upside down.

遂 on the other hand seems unrelated to 隊, 隧 and 墜, the form and sound might just be a coincidence.

The 隋 character had almost the same form as 隊. Except it’s a person searching someone who has fallen off a cliff. So we get the extended meaning of following someone, and 墮 to remember falling off a cliff part.

垂’s original form was a low hanging fruit.

I evaluate word choice on a case by case basis.

媠 is a made-up glyph created ad-hoc, borrowing the sound of 隋 to approximate the sound of “sui”. Feeling its deficiency, that particular man who came up with this idea, decided to add the 女 to help others understand what a great idea he came up with.

The following is indicative that these glyphs were created in an open-source fashion with no strict rules. They may even meant to be just quick fixes.

[quote=“sofun”]I evaluate word choice on a case by case basis.

媠 is a made-up glyph created ad-hoc, borrowing the sound of 隋 to approximate the sound of “sui”.

Feeling its deficiency, that particular man who came up with this idea, decided to add the 女 to help others understand what a great idea he came up with.
[/quote]

as opposed to your support for using 水? based on… ad-hoc borrowing of the sound 水 to approximate the sound of sui?

媠 is in use at least since the Han dynasty, and can be found in Cao Cao’s son, Cao Zhi’s literary writings. Not sure how you define ad-hoc, but I think that was the zenith of Han dynasty literature.

Cao Zhi’s literary collection

[quote=“hansioux”]
as opposed to your support for using 水? based on… ad-hoc borrowing of the sound 水 to approximate the sound of sui?[/quote]
I said both are valid. One is not better than the other. 水 is just as popular nowadays. Easy and gender-neutral. It’s really your favourite oranges and apples :slight_smile:
So on a case-by-case basis I do not prefer one over the other.

For interjection I prefer to use the absolutely neutral kana.

[quote=“sofun”][quote=“hansioux”]
as opposed to your support for using 水? based on… ad-hoc borrowing of the sound 水 to approximate the sound of sui?[/quote]
I said both are valid. One is not better than the other. 水 is just as popular nowadays. Easy and gender-neutral. It’s really your favourite oranges and apples :slight_smile:
So on a case-by-case basis I do not prefer one over the other.

For interjection I prefer to use the absolutely neutral kana.[/quote]

If 媠 and 好 aren’t neutral to you, how is kana neutral? ぬ is 奴, め is 女, and あ is 安.

well you don’t want to over interpret my preferences; I already said that I evaluate word choice on a case-by-case basis.

The advantage of kana in many circumstances is that, by rule, kana such as すぃ is detached from the original kanji 寸以。

Instead of addition, as in the case of aimlessly expanding the glyph library, the kana philosophy is reduction. (Both addition/expansion and reduction should be valid options, but reduction is the superior one.)

For example, while 媠 is the process of replacing 隋 with 女, hoping that 女 would be convincing enough for future reader, the process of writing すぃ is to faithfully represent the spoken sound of the native speaker, and let the sound, and the context, dictate the exact meaning.

Only one overall rule is needed for kana. That is, kana signifies pronunciation is coming.

On the topic of gender neutrality,
In a previous post on a different thread, I showed that in Taigi, for the meaning “yes” , there are various ways to say it. These are:
Ho/Hö, Ha, He.

I indicated that one alternative way to write them is to employ kana: ほ、はぁ、へぇ, respectively. This is superior than using 好 for all three, and superior than using three Hanji(Kanji), such as 好、哈 and 嘿.

The advantage of kana in many circumstances is that, by rule, kana such as すぃ is detached from the original kanji 寸以。[/quote]

The same can be said about 媠 or 好, the 女 radical doesn’t make these words exclusively feminine. You can say a person is a 好人 without indicating that person being male or female.

Yet you insist the 女 makes these words non-gender-neutral, while ぬ, め, and あ are obviously derived from 女, and you refuse to acknowledge by the same logic they are also non-gender-neutral. To me, it feels like the reason you keep stressing that you deal with things case by case is so that you can switch the reasoning for supporting something when you like it better that way…

By the way, as previously mentioned, if you want to faithfully describe the sounds of any Sinitic languages, Kana isn’t the best way to go. We’ve also haven’t seen you make a complete example of how you are going to modify Kana to do what you think it can do. That’s already putting aside the fact that these changes are unlikely to be adopted by the unicode consortium.

What you want to achieve is easily achieve by romanization, and since Latin letter are based on Phoenician alphabet, I can assure you there are no gender biased Phoenician alphabet.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenician_alphabet

[quote=“sofun”]On the topic of gender neutrality,
In a previous post on a different thread, I showed that in Taigi, for the meaning “yes” , there are various ways to say it. These are:
Ho/Hö, Ha, He.

I indicated that one alternative way to write them is to employ kana: ほ、はぁ、へぇ, respectively. This is superior than using 好 for all three, and superior than using three Hanji(Kanji), such as 好、哈 and 嘿.[/quote]

はぁ contains a あ derived from 安.

The kana was created to dissociate from the kanji it originated from. So while it is true that あ stemmed from 安, It is not true, that あ contains 女。
That which contains 女 is 安, which ISN"T あ。

The second point you want me to answer is if I can show you an example(s) of how to modify kana. I’ve provided how I’m doing it on a Facebook page of my own. I provide complete tables, systematically.
I remember you said you don’t have a FB but if you sign up for a dummy one you can still take a look here:

facebook.com/taiwangi.langu … =1&theater

In addition to some of the principles I already told you, such as letting go of the misconception of x number of kana’s absolutely must produce x number of syllables (i.e., the がくせい example), I can show you a couple of more novel principles that I adopt:

  1. write ーん to represent a deep nasal . Half nasals such as 餡 is written as あー。Thus,

あん = 安
あーん = 紅
あー = 餡

2 Use を for ㄜ, hence 庄=ぞをん

3 For Taigi’s voiced sound (濁音), repeat the vowel. Example: 壤=じいゃん. So yes we have 我=ぐぅあ (strict-style writing). Alternatively ぐぁ or わ for short if the overall context is clear to the reader.

Incidentally you will probably find that Rule 1 and Rule 3 DO NOT contradict each other.

  1. Easy rule for 促音 such as “zap zat zak” = ざっぷ ざっつ ざっく. I might even shorten them when appropriate to ざぷ ざつ ざく.

Review: Even in the most difficult-case scenario, for example 弱, I can annotate it with じいょく.

  1. Previously thought troublesome ngo 吳 is simply written as んご. Similarly, n=黃=ん.

6 M sound such as “am” 庵 is written simply as あむ. But this rule is basically the same as number 4.

Anyways all together there are about 5 or 6 rules only, and already I can write consistently. The writing style for complete sentences is of course visually similar to how the Japanese do it with their language: a mix of kanji plus kana. I also recommend using hiragana for regular part and katakana for borrowed vocabulary. I strongly recommend hiragana for critical “be verbs” and particles.