Hello! Today we will look into the meaning and history behind the Chinese character 萬. This character means the number 10000 (one myriad) as in 萬年 (ten-thousand years). It can also be used in the sense of “many” as in 萬物 (many things). This character and the number concept is found in all East Asian languages, just pronounced differently.
man [mahn] – Medieval Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Cantonese
ban [bahn] – Medieval Chinese, Hokkien, Japanese
van [vahn] – Dungan, Hakka, Vietnamese
wan [wahn] – Mandarin
The character 萬 has its origins from the oracle bone script (c. 1300 BCE). What does this symbol look like?
If you guessed a scorpion, you are correct! Who would have guessed?