Today, we’re going to review the basic building block 木 (tree). In oracle-bone inscriptions, it depicted a tree with roots in the earth and two branches reaching towards the sky. Over time, the branches became one horizontal line (一) and the tree body was kept as a vertical line (丨). The roots became something like two arms falling down, one towards the left side and one towards the right. Here’s a step-by-step writing guide for 木: http://bit.ly/1bi3g3J
When we double 木 (tree), we get 林 (woods); when we triple it, we get 森 (forest). The characters 林 and 森 are what we call ‘compound characters’ in Chineasy methodology. Compound characters are composed of two or more ‘building blocks’. Here are some other examples of compound characters:
1. 众 (crowd): we triple the building block 人 (person)
2. 炎 (burning hot): we double the building block 火 (fire)
3. 晶 (sparkles): we triple the building block 日 (sun)
4. 明 (bright): we combine the building block 日(sun) and 月 (moon)
So, if you master building blocks first, compounds will be easy peasy!
For those of you who may have learnt the character ‘樹/树’ (shu4) for ‘tree’, it’s not wrong! 樹/树 and 木 both mean ‘tree’. Do you know why? Did you know that besides meaning ‘tree’, 木 can mean ‘wooden’ as an adjective? For example, 木床 (mu4 chuang2) is ‘wooden bed’ and 木屋 (mu4 wu1) is ‘wooden house’.