Chinese Character Riddle

Hey, so my Chinese learning book (still level one, sigh) has a riddle in part of the homework. I have my suspicions of the answer, but am not sure. As such, I figured I'd post it here and see what you guys have to say (hover over for pinyin):

人有"他"大

天没"他"大

请问"他"是谁?

你也认识"他"

My first guess is that the answer is "", the logic being that the character for fu's tallest radical would be "人" (as tall as a person), and the radical extends past the "天" part of the character – making it "taller than the sky". The character means "husband or man", and so that sort of fits the last clue: you also know "him".

The reason I'm stumped on this is that the last line indicates that I've 'met' the character – and I've not studied this character yet (not in this book, I have in another however).

So… any ideas? Alternative answers?

Oh, and as I'm on a bit of a language kick today – here's an excellent post about handy mnemonics for remembering tones from the always sagely Sinosplice: "Mandarin Tone Tricks"

16 Responses

  1. Haha, you’re absolutely right. And, it’s true, “我” also ‘knows it’ (and I’ve learned “一”)… good job Chris’s girlfriend. Though I am a bit disappointed in you (shock, horror), as I would have put money on you being the one that figured it out. 🙂

  2. In fact, I’m a bit disappointed in myself, especially since, if I remember correctly, I’ve seen this one before, albeit a long time ago. I knew it had to be more obvious than “夫”, although, I really like that answer, too.

  3. Oh, right! I just remembered where I’ve seen it before — you’re using the NPCR (New Practical Chinese Reader) right? Those are good books, IMO.

  4. I am indeed using the NPCR books and I love ’em. I’ve got a collection of Chinese learning material that rivals the number of characters you need to know to read a newspaper, and these are the only ones I find are any good. I’ll be finished the first set soon enough and really wish I had bought the second set when I had easy access to it – now it looks like I’ll be going to Shanghai or ordering it online to get it.

  5. So yea, that’s the answer…here’s how I think about it:

    (If the character)”人”有”他”, (then it becomes the character)大。
    (If the character)”天”没有”他”, (then it becomes the character)大.

    “他”equals”一”; you also know the character “一” (in addition to already knowing the character “他”).

  6. Hey Matt, thanks for the clarification, especially for those readers that might not really be clear on what the hell we were talking about.

    Umm… podcast version?

  7. Yea, you have that “podcast of post” feature at the top of all your posts. You click it and the computer voice reads your post…you must be aware of this! no? 🙂

  8. Ah! Haha… gotcha. Sorry, I totally forgot about that little feature. Yeah… sounds like she’s a Canadian robot.. everything is “eh, eh, a copyright sign, eh, eh, one half eh…” too funny. Obviously the service hasn’t hooked into the UTF-8 & Chinese phonetics…

  9. Ryan, you said “I’ve got a collection of Chinese learning material that rivals the number of characters you need to know to read a newspaper, and these are the only ones I find are any good.”
    Huh? Are you refering to the NPCR books here? What do you mean by “rivals the number of characters you need …”?

  10. Hey Chris, I meant that I spend more time buying Chinese learning materials than actually using them. Or at least this was the case before I stumbled upon the NPCR books. For some reason me and these books clicked and I am powering through them (well, rather, I was when I had free time).

  11. Can you explain how the answer is “yi”? I’m actually using the NPCR texts in my Friday evening Conversational Mandarin classes here in Toronto and my teacher just gave me my homework pack — with the riddle. Why is the answer “yi” and not “fu”?

  12. Sorry, I read over Matt’s Post #6 above, and I’m starting to get it. “Yi” might be the right answer after all. Thanks!

  13. @Julisensei: Wow, old post to stumble upon 🙂 I think Matt’s explanation is pretty clear on explaining it. It’s essentially if you add or remove the radical “一” from the characters being mentioned it creates a different character (人+一=大, 天- 一=大).

Leave a Reply

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

*