Skip to content

A Thematic Learning Approach – Chinese Characters about Agriculture

Learning Chinese characters can be challenging due to the complexity and diversity of the symbols. One effective approach is the topic-oriented characters learning method, which focuses on specific themes to make the process more efficient and engaging.

Agriculture developed very early on in ancient China. Since then and until very recently, the majority of the population has been farmers. Agriculture remains central to national policy and forms the basis of life for millions of people.

Unsurprisingly, many characters linked to agriculture, farming, and nature are central to the Chinese language. If you look carefully, many characters resemble agricultural implements or have surprising connections to field management and crop cultivation.

For example, 木(mù) looks like a tree. The primitive pictograph 果(guǒ) is a tree 木(mù) with fruits on it. 田(tián) quite clearly resembles a field, while 竹(zhú) depicts two bamboo stalks with leaves. The ancient form of 米(mǐ) looked like a spike of rice, with the dots representing the kernels. 井(jǐng) derives from an image of a water well with a square mouth, and 禾(hé) looks similar to mature grain crops.

farm in chinese

Chinese people’s immediate reality and personal experience influenced the development of Chinese culture and language. Some agriculture-related characters have permeated the language, taking on broader or more abstract meanings. Consider the characters 本 (běn) and 末 (mò).

本(běn) looks like a tree 木(mù) with an additional horizontal stroke symbolizing a tree root. The character translates very well to the English word “root,” meaning both the root of a plant and the root of a problem. Other possible meanings include “origin”, “basis”, “starting point”, and “original.” It is also a measure word for books, as books were seen as the source or “root” of knowledge. Meanwhile, 末 (mò) with its long horizontal stroke across the top part of the vertical stroke denotes the “tip of a tree.” It now means “end,” “late,” “final,” and similar concepts.

farm in chinese 2

Other common characters linked to agriculture include 生(shēng) and 來(lái). The ancient form of 生(shēng) depicts a sprout emerging from the ground, meaning “birth,” “to give birth,” or “life.” The primitive pictograph 來 (lái) (simplified to 来) looks like a fruit hanging on a tree and means “to come” or “to arrive.”

The influence of agriculture on Chinese characters is profound, reflecting the central role of farming in Chinese culture and language. Share your learning experience with us!

Online Chinese Tutors

  • 1:1 online tutoring
  • 100% native professional tutors
  • For all levels
  • Flexible schedule
  • More effective
Learn more
Oksana Ermolaeva

Oxana Ermolaeva is a freelance writer, editor and translator from Russia. She loves studying new languages and cultures. Her special interest is Chinese language.

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top