(2) Ideograph

After all, there's some complex meanings that pictographs cannot describe. So people sometimes combine two or more characters together to form a new character.

# Concept

Compound of two or more existing characters. One can guess the meaning of the new character by inference. In Chinese "ideograph" means "to get the deep meaning".

For instance, what will you think about when you see a man leaning against a tree? He may be relaxing himself. In Chinese, the character "Rest, Relax" is made up of two existing characters with the meanings "human" and "tree".

Compared with pictograph, ideograph is more complex. Not only expressing the concrete shape, it can also suggest deeper meanings. However, one may easily misunderstand an ideograph character. For example, put two characters "Human" together. Will you think this new character means "talking" or "standing"? Actually, it means "follow"!

two characters "Human" together, means "follow"

Once a scholar in the Song Dynasty called Wang Anshi  (Click here to see the background information ) wrote a book about the characters, and made a lot of mistakes in explaining ideographs. Su Shi (Click here to see the background information ), one of his friend asked:

"You think the character 'slope' means 'the earth's skin'? In that case, how can you accept that 'smooth' means 'the water's bone'?"

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# Samples

At first, there were many ideographs carved on the Oracle bones. Here are some samples:

 Items Characters Actions Side by Side, Break apart, Play with, Get, Follow Objects Gather, Gap Nature Dawn, Gloomy "Copy-Paste" Tree-Wood-Forest, Heaps of rock, Many people, Vast water area

Creating an ideograph is somehow like making riddles. Please visit "Interactive" to have a guess!