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16 DEFINITION Two. PRONUNCIATION èr 二 SOUND WORD Cigarettes (The sound part is anywhere but at the beginning of the sound word, to represent a fourth tone) COMPONENTS 2 x 一 ONE 15 (ONE is underscored with a solid line, because this is a real meaning) MNEMONICS Two times ONE. STORY “Give me ONE cigarette and then, another ONE, please!” “You mean, two cigarettes?” EXAMPLES 二 月 (èr yuè) February. 二 等 (èr děng) Second-class. WANT A LITTLE MORE? • Note that the bottom stroke is longer than the top one. • This is the 7 th of the 214 Kangxi radicals. • Usage frequency: Top 500. 38 三 十 八

17 DEFINITION Three. PRONUNCIATION sān 三 SOUND WORD San /san/ Spanish word for ‘Saint.’ COMPONENTS 3 x 一 ONE 15 MNEMONICS • Three times ONE. • The sound word San counts three letters. STORY “Here are depicted the three American saints (starting from the North on a map): the top ONE is San Francisco, the middle ONE is San Andreas and the bottom ONE is San Antonio.” EXAMPLES 三 角 (sān jiǎo) Triangle. 三 十 (sān shí) 30. WANT A LITTLE MORE? • Note that the middle stroke is the shortest line of the three. • This character was also interpreted as a symbol representing heaven, earth and man, with man in the middle. • Three often means ‘a lot’ in Chinese. For instance, when a character is composed of the same building block repeated three times, it usually means ‘a lot of’ that element. • Usage frequency: Top 500. 三 十 九 39

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1 Chinese In contrast to Sumerian writing, whose history can be ...