When I was studying, I came across a new character — Oh, wait, did you think I was going to stop complaining about Mandarin after taking HSK1? No! I passed, so now I’m prepping for HSK2.

Let me start over. I wish Chinese characters on clothes or skin or art weren’t such a Clueless White Person thing to do, because I came across one, and I love this character so much. It means begin but I almost never hear it in context, people usually say 开 for start class and 上 for start work.

始 is written by forming the character 女 woman next to the character 台 for place. It looks a bit like a house, doesn’t it? One of the first things I could read was the name of my first city, 烟台,and whenever I see it on departures boards, it always looks like a little guy coming home to his little house. Anyway, I try to remember characters based on concepts (Ben Franklin’s kite 电 means electricity) or other characters (操 is sad, with the radical used for push/pull actions next to 品 things, an obvious mnemonic for anyone who’s tried to work through a depressive cycle). I have dozens of these.

For 始,though, I just love that a woman plus a new place is a beginning.

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