The pig under the roof

The character (pronounced jiā) means family or home. It is made up of the radical for roof andwhich means pig. So, a pig under a roof – how does that constitute family or home?! One explanation is animal domestication. Since in earlier times pigs were domesticated and lived inside the house, a house with a pig in it inevitably meant that it was a home for people too.

Now, you know that means home or family on its own, pairing with other characters creates words or phrases that relate to the house or family. Let’s see some examples: 

家具 (jiājù), home attire which is furniture; 家乡 (jiāxiāng), home town which is of course hometown; and 家人 (jiārén), family people which means family member. 

However, this is not always the case. Many words containing do not relate to family or home. In fact, can also mean a person who is an expert in a certain field. For example, 音乐 (yīnyuè) means “music.” and therefore 音乐家 means “musician”.

Chinese people often say 家和万事兴 (jiā hé wàn shì xīng), which means “a harmonious [*] will prosper in every way”. Guess which meaning takes in this context? 

(This article was first published in Gallery)

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