Cao Cao writes "live" on a door

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Cao Cao writes "live" on a door

Unread postby OhmRaza » Thu Nov 02, 2017 12:37 am

This is more about the writing of the Chinese language than RotK but the frame of reference is an episode of the RotK tv show produced in 2010. To my untrained eyes, the character for "live'" that Cao Cao writes on the door doesn't look like what the subtitles show nor what wiktionary show the character to be. Can someone explain?

The (fictional) scene is enjoyable because it shows Cao Cao's cleverness and his constant testing of those who served him. If you combine the characters for "live" and "door" it results in the character for "wide" as his subordinate Yang Xiu explains.

This the wiktionary entry for "live"
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E7%94%9F

And here is the image of what he draws along with the subtitle:
Image
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Re: Cao Cao writes "live" on a door

Unread postby DragonAtma » Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:25 am

As luck would have it, I was reading about this a few days ago.

Just as the english alphabet changed over time (in the roman time, there were no lower case letters -- those were only created by the scholar Alcuin by Charlemagne's request, which is why roman carvings look like they have a CAPS LOCK OBSESSION), China had different characters in the past. Zhong Yao (who would be one of Cao Pi's first three Excellencies) would help create the traditional chinese characters that would stay in use until the 1950's and 1960's. However, the script would not become commonplace until the 400's, long after Cao Cao was dead.
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Re: Cao Cao writes "live" on a door

Unread postby OhmRaza » Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:35 pm

Cool, thanks for the answer. So I wonder then if, as the scene portrays, the characters for "live" and "door" still form the character for "wide" in the script that Cao Cao is using. Also, do you (or anyone) know what script it is that Cao Cao is writing in? Semi-cursvie would be my (arbitrary) guess because it seems less angular than traditional script, but that's a total shot in the dark.
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Re: Cao Cao writes "live" on a door

Unread postby DragonAtma » Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:55 pm

According to Wikipedia (which has examples of the various scripts) semi-cursive looks fairly similar to the standard type: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lanting_P3rd.jpg

My best guess? One of the seal scripts; here's a sample inscription in it (from the famous Sword of Guojian): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Deci ... _sword.jpg

But keep in mind that I don't speak chinese, nor do I study ancient chinese scripts; I'm sure the people here can give better answers than I can!
Unless I specifically say otherwise, assume I am talking about historical Three Kingdoms, and not the novel.

In memory of my beloved cats, Anastasia (9/30/06-9/18/17, illness) and Josephine (1/19/06-9/23/17, cancer).
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Re: Cao Cao writes "live" on a door

Unread postby CaTigeReptile » Sat Nov 04, 2017 2:29 am

I'm not an expert but based on the subtitle the word isn't 生(shēng), it's 活(huó). (It still does mean 'live'; in fact, the two are usually used together as 生活). The seal script for 活 is Image which looks to be on the door.

The word "wide" that combines live (, huó) and door ( mén) is this: (kuò). I don't recall this scene, but it'd end up looking like Image as the seal script for 門 is essentially identical to its modern counterpart, so to answer your question, yes. The combination of radicals that make up Chinese characters don't tend to change that much; the radicals themselves change appearance.

EDIT: Looking at it this morning, I think I might be wrong. The radical of the seal script and what's on the wall don't look the same. Let me see if I can find out what it really is.

EDIT EDIT: Can't find it. Looked for the word itself in a bunch of scripts and then looked for the radical on the right (舌). I can't find it looking like what's in the screenshot in oracle bone script, large seal script, small seal script, zhou script, bronze script, Qin script, bird-worm script . . . It looks the most like Qin Dynasty script but that radical, I still can't find it. Oh well. Sorry.
Last edited by CaTigeReptile on Sat Nov 04, 2017 5:11 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Cao Cao writes "live" on a door

Unread postby Fornadan » Sat Nov 04, 2017 10:22 am

This story actually derives from the 5th century Shishuo Xinyu, so it might be fiction, but at least it's old fiction
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