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The three characters and and are visually very similar, but do they have a common etymology or any overlap in terms of semantic content?

visually similar kanji

Any information would be appreciated.

  • As a starting point to answering this question (ignoring any kanji shape analysis, which is paleogaphy), do a simple comparison between their OC reconstructions. If they sound similar but do not appear to overlap in semantic content, then you can be sure that phonetic loans are appearing somewhere here. – droooze May 31 at 12:17
  • What is the best way to compare Old Chinese reconstructions? – kandyman May 31 at 12:37
  • Wiktionary has free information on this taken from Zhengzhang and Baxter-Sagart, e.g. en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E5%B7%B2#Pronunciation and en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E5%B7%B3#Pronunciation - FYI: these two are related paleographically. – droooze May 31 at 12:39
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  • 「巳」depicts a type of snake. The word that it represents (Baxter-Sagart OC: /*s-[ɢ]əʔ/, sixth earthly branch) is a phonetic loan.



    enter image description here
    3915
    合集30757
    西周

    enter image description here
    毛公鼎
    集成2841
    戰國

    enter image description here
    郭・成・36
     


    enter image description here
    日甲49
     


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  • 「已」(/*ɢ(r)əʔ/, already) was originally the same character as「巳」, and is also a phonetic loan. Much later on, the two meanings (sixth earthly branch and already) were differentiated by writing the character「已」without a fully enclosed loop at the top.

  • 「己」is graphically unrelated to the other two, and the original meaning is unclear. The earliest determined usage is for the word /*k(r)əʔ/, sixth heavenly stem. The meaning self is a phonetic loan.



    enter image description here
    2
    合集13399
    西周

    enter image description here
    作冊大方鼎
    集成2760
    春秋

    enter image description here
    鐘伯侵鼎
    集成2668
    戰國・楚

    enter image description here
    包2・245
     


    enter image description here
    睡・日乙32
     


    enter image description here

     

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