Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


This etymology is doubtful. Karlgren suggests "Character analogous to 氏 shì clan, family, both of doubtful analyis". ---> Tooironic 01:05, 8 June 2011 (UTC)

I found this better etymological explanation here after a reference from a documentary . "A pictograph of an eye blinded in being pierced by a needle → blinded slave (compare 童) → people (← subservient masses who go blindly about their lives) → nation. Note that in contrast to 目, 民 lacks a pupil." Link is here just type the "民" character. Edit needed in the article. Eru777 (talk) 09:56, 12 August 2012 (UTC)

The reference (Howell & Morimoto) is not reliable: they have obviously incorrect etymologies based on current forms. See discussion at Wiktionary:Beer parlour/2013/June#Revert.
Explanation as “eye being pierced by a dagger” as given at 说文解字“民” is suspicious and seems a clear folk etymology.
Also, Karlgren’s explanation is outdated: if you examine the bronze characters, 氏 and 民 have very different forms; see and at Richard Sear’s site. As usual, Richard Sear’s explanation (at ) is based on early forms and reasonable, hence I’ve used that instead.
—Nils von Barth (nbarth) (talk) 13:43, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
Is it really a folk etymology? These etymology date back as far as studies by reputable scholars, one of which were collaborating in extensive research on the Oracle bone script and ancient writings. Many of which were extensively done even during the ROC period of mainland China and that time, scholars had access to the available techniques and methods also used by Western countries and the results of their findings are highly recognized by Western scholars.
I can't name the exact book, my apologies, but if i have the time, I will do so but it's really important to clarify these things as I find the etymology of the mother giving birth entirely new to me. In the book of which I'm trying to refer to (like in many other reputable source), the character 民 has a similar etymology to the character 臣. Yellow Bridge (which follows acceptable findings) states that 臣 is a "(象形) pictographic. Picture of a vertical eye, the position it takes when a slave is looking up to his master, reflecting its original meaning of 'slave' ". On the other hand, 民 is a "(象形) pictographic. Picture of an eye being pricked with an awl, indicating a slave". It is really important for these things to be clarified with experts as many people study both Chinese and Japanese that use the Hanzi writing system, or Kanji in Japanese; both of which use the same character for 民.
I have access to learning materials used extensively in Chinese schools and never have I encountered your etymology. Some etymology may seem logical but older writings should not always be taken at face value. The language evolves through time and there is always proper research due.
Ugar001 (talk) 21:02, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
This entry is really bothering me. How can Shuowen Jiezi be dubious when in fact, it dates back during the Han dynasty (one of China's influential and golden age dynasties) and that it is one of the earliest attempt on analyzing the composition and evolution of Chinese characters done by the ancient Chinese themselves, the people who created and used the characters longer than any other culture and this was completed by scholars, not only educated masses? Another argument is how can it be plain folk etymology when it was studied by literate and well-versed people. If you were to compare who has more knowledge, people at that time who grew with the script or people judging a character's form based on face value, which is more credible? Even the Japanese and Koreans would refer to various sources in studying Chinese characters. Please do clarify this entry. When it comes to Hanzi (or Kanji), people should really distinguish which is an acceptable etymology: whether folk or not and which is simply a commonly used mnemonic for second-language learners. Another point to take: we are suspecting a source that comes from a Chinese site, not an outside source and seems to be based on the Shuowen Jiezi which is studied by East Asians. What does that say?
I also checked Richard Sear's site and I noticed that the Bronze inscriptions resembled the character for eye while his basis seems to be the Seal script (a descendant of the Bronze inscription) which also has a clear form of the eye character as well. Please note which of the two scripts is older.
Ugar001 (talk) 22:06, 19 November 2013 (UTC)