A semantic analysis of the fire radical in chinese

Danqing Huang, Dirk Geeraerts, Weiwei Zhang


Fire has played an essential role in human civilization. FIRE as such is not only a basic but also a crucial concept in human language, including Chinese. In Chinese, FIRE huǒ火 acts as an independent character that is often used as a radical in many composite characters. Considering the fact that Chinese radicals are typically regarded as the semantic components within the composite characters to indicate broader concepts and categories of the characters, the FIRE radical is expected to determine the lexical meaning of composite characters one way or another. Since the independent use of the FIRE character precedes its function as a radical, we hypothesize that the semantic development of the FIRE radical will be influenced by those of the FIRE character. Therefore, we first carried out a semantic analysis of the FIRE character in previous research. The present paper studies the semantic structure of the global extensions of the FIRE radical, i.e. the original senses of the composite characters of the FIRE radical that are expected to have developed from the senses of the FIRE character. This analysis shows that, like the FIRE character, the semantic structure of the FIRE radical is still a radial network with prototypical features. However, the FIRE radical showcases semantic developments that occur independently of the FIRE character.


Chinese Character; Fire Radical; Global Extension; Prototype; Radial Network.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.35520/diadorim.2020.v22n2a39308


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