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what does 母 have to do with 毎? is there any link at all or did it come together randomly? does it have to do with the Chinese pronunciation?

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According to the Wiktionary entry, the 母 portion is purely phonetic -- that is, it has to do with the [ancient] Chinese pronunciation.

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    Which has been reconstructed as /*mɯʔ/ or /*mˁəʔ/, fwiw. "Muh", in common with most baby words for "mother" across human languages. The word for 'each' had the same pronunciation and no obvious illustration, so they just went with that. – lly May 4 at 8:38
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「每{まい}」(Baxter-Sagart OC: /*mˤəʔ/; Shinjitai:「毎」) was originally a picture of a woman「女」wearing a headdress, indicating the meaning married woman > adult woman, mother.「女」was later phoneticised into「母{も}」(/*məʔ/). The meaning married/adult woman is no longer associated with the character「每」, and the modern meaning of「每」(each, every) is a phonetic loan.



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  • Phoneticisation is the name of a change which transforms or replaces one component to another component which gives a sound indication to the character.

  • 「母」and「女」were very similar glyphs - the only difference between the two is that「母」draws out two dots, indicating nipples > breasts, emphasising the meaning mother.



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  • In the earliest inscriptions,「每」was used as a variant of「母」due to the similar meanings and sounds, and you can view the headdress shape or the nipple dots as differentiating marks to distinguish「母」or「每」from「女」.

In the original sense of woman,「每」is a semantic component in e.g.「毓」, which is now replaced by「育」. See Is 云 related to 𠫓 in any way?


References:

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每, the old form kanji of 毎, has 母 in it. My dictionary says that 每 is a pictogram representing a woman wearing a hair accessory (presumably, every day).

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    Hard to blame the dictionary when you don't cite it, but wherever you heard that it's completely wrong. It's phono-semantic, like Mr Utlendi said. Beyond which, the woman in the pictogram would presumably cover her nipples before bothering to set her hair in order... – lly May 4 at 8:37
  • @lly this answer is largely correct. The only thing that's wrong is that the character structure/origin of 每 has anything to do with "every (day)". It doesn't, and 每 is only a phonetic loan. – droooze May 4 at 9:22
  • It's 新漢語林 2nd edition. It also mentions that Shuowen Jiezi explains 毎 is a phono-semantic compound but the dictionary editors are apparently against that theory. You can find a similar explanation in okjiten.jp/sp/kanji377.html – Kenji May 4 at 9:26

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