Print

Print


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Matthew Turnbull" <[log in to unmask]> 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 10:30:56 PM 
Subject: Re: Systematic Sensory Verbs 

On Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 9:04 PM, Damatir Ando < 
[log in to unmask]> wrote: 

> I think Mandarin Chinese also uses the same verb for "hear" and "smell," 
> and 
> I would be curious as to what other languages do the same thing. 

I would not begin to proclaim to know the ins and outs of Chinese etymology, but while "wen2" does technically mean "hear" -- the character is an ear at the door -- it's more about (ear at the door) hearing what has been said. In modern usage, "xin1wen2" is "news", as in "what has newly been heard" which ends up in Japanese and Korean as "newspaper". Beyond other set expressions, it is not used to talk about the aural faculty. That would be "ting1", which in traditional characters has a big ol' honkin' ear as part of it. Where "smelling" comes from is not within my ken. Maybe it's about sniffing around your neighbor's door trying to learn about their bidness. Maybe it's about there being another character that was lost in the hoarfrost (though a 90-second perusal of my dictionaries did not readily find one). Lord knows, if I were to make a character about "smelling", I would at least take advantage of the available, though seldom-used "nose" radical. Alas, I was not consulted. 

Kou