Logical-aggregate Characters

In 會意字[huì yì zì] logical-aggregate characters, the meanings of the components are “added up” to indicate the meanings of the whole characters.

For example, the character 吠[fèi], which consists of the components 口([kǒu], mouth) and 犬([quǎn], dog), has the meaning of “barking”. As another example, the character 解([jiě], separate) is composed of three components–角([jiǎo], horn), 刀([dāo], knife) and 牛([niú], cow), which join together as a sign of “separating out the horn from a cow by a knife.” Thus, to a certain extent, one can interpret the composition of these logical-aggregate characters with reference to what each of the components mean. However, quite often, such interpretation involves a kind of fuzziness and the meaning cannot be purely deduced by logic. For example, why doesn’t the previous character 吠[fèi] mean “the mouth of the dog” rather than[barking]? Furthermore, these logical-aggregate characters in fact only comprise a small portion of 3.1% of all Chinese characters. For this reason, these characters will be regarded as exceptions and will not be dealt with in this dissertation.

Logical aggregate character

角       刀       牛

Analysis of the logical-aggregate character 解