Chinese Word of the Day – 角度

The character 角 (pinyin: jiao) means horn. The character 度 (pinyin: du) means to measure (usually of lengths) or size. What would the combination 角度 mean? This one is pretty obvious: angle. In many East Asian languages 角度 can also mean one’s perspective or point of view.

Pronunciations

Medieval Chinese: gak-do or gok-do

Mandarin: jiao-du

Cantonese: gok-dou

Hokkien: gak-do

Japanese: kaku-do

Korean: gak-do

Vietnamese: giác độ

Trivia

You probably learn that rotating once around a circle sweeps 360 degrees. This arbitrary measurement was developed by the Babylonians about 3000 years ago. Since the Shang dynasty (c. 1650 – 1050 BCE), Chinese astronomers theorized that the sky is a circle (later a sphere) that is segmented by the number of days in a year. Hence, a Chinese angle was 365.25 degrees.

Chinese_sundial

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