Why does 熊 have 能 in it? What do the four dots mean, and what is that stroke called? When I say why does it have it in it, does anyone have either a linguistic interpretation, or am interpretive definition?
- Anybody can ask a question
- Anybody can answer
- The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
It's clear at least that the 能 portion literally represents a bear. ChineseEtymology.org describes it this way:
Henshall describes it similarly, giving 厶 instead as nose, 肉 as flesh/of the body, and 匕匕 as representing claws. It came to represent ability later, either as a borrowed meaning or in reference to some attributes of a bear (strength, agility, etc.). But details aside, I think everyone agrees on what 能 literally represents.
So 熊 contains 能 because it represents a bear.
As for 灬, those four dots are typically taken as a form of 火 fire, but the reason for its presence in 熊 is less clear. Every source I've checked explains it differently. Zhongwen gives it as an abbreviated phonetic (from 炎), while ChineseEtymology.org says it comes from a representation of the four feet of the bear. Henshall has this to say:
So there you have three different explanations for 灬.