Chinese Tuesdays: Tadpole


Tadpole is 蝌蚪 (kēdǒu). I find this interesting because both characters seem to only mean tadpole, but are never used alone, and also because they both consist of the same meaning radical, 虫 (chóng) – often referred to as the “insect radical” – with a different phonetic radical. In the first character the phonetic radical is 科 (kē), and in the second it is 斗 (dǒu or dòu). You may notice that 科 also contains 斗, but in 科 it is not a phonetic radical, but a meaning radical along with 禾 (hé) – which may or may not be the reason 科 is said kē. This is why I love Chinese.

Every Tuesday on the Anthill, Sam Duncan posts a langauge titbit from his blog