It seems that there are no expert to throw light on the original character
I do notice that; I can't see "active + expert" member on this area in CHF.
And among the experts we have quoted so far, it seems that their primary responsibility is to find words that matches the sound and meaning, not explaining how far the semantics evolved.
I think once in a while they will make a mistake, because the principle in collecting these characters are usually "anything that the investigator can't identify as Archaic Chinese".
I saw one article about Wenzhou Wu, and it even mis-identified 亦~又(modern 也) as non-Chinese.
Taiwanese Hokkien uses the word 刣 (thâi) for kill.
GZ, the discussion was not about the present practise, but rather about whether there's an ancient word that can be associated with it.
There's already discussion about why it should not be correlated to ancient character:
The meaning doesn't match and neither does the sound.
刣 thai (meaning "kill") - formed by a combination loaning of sound for the radical "台 tai" (形聲） and the radical of "刂dao" (meaning "knife") (會意）. It fits well with 六書， 6 principles of constructing Chinese character.
That doesn't mean it's a recent inventon. In fact, it's easy to make such type of charaters: e.g. Cantonese 界刂
Usually both sounds should be similar, the colloquail sound should be 'tiong' or 'teng' if the literary sound is indeed 'ziong'.
I think the colloquial sound should also have [ts] not [t].
It's because Sino-Vietnamese 鍾 start with ch-, not tr- [even though both Cantonese and Mandarin mix up ch and tr].
( Sino-Vietnamese tr- correspond to Minnan [t], ch- to [ts]. The difference can be demonstrated by 張/章:
Minnan "Literary": Tiong1/Tsiong1
Minnan "Colloquial": Tiu~1/Tsiu~1[ignoring one specialized meaning of Tng1 "羅取鳥獸曰張" ]
But then there is a small possibility that the literary sound has gone too far wayward from the norm.
The meaning could go quite far too, if there's many generations.
And one critical step is having a generation that forgets some previous meanings, as it allows further generalization.
Imagine this scenario for a hypothetical word:
Generation 0: Meaning A
Generation 10: Meaning A and B
(after some more generation, meaning A is forgotten)
Generation 20: Meaning B
Generation 30: Meaning B and C (even though the meaning of C is quite far from A)
(after some more generation, meaning B is forgotten)
Generation 40: Meaning C
Generation 50: Meaning C and D.
Once people forget all the previous meanings, words for "to kill (an animal)" can easily generalize to humans. As modern "宰" doesn't have the meaning of "cook", "我宰了" often have a human target. (and as people can see on the web)
As I search for the 'more antique meaning' of "宰", I find this:
I see that the original meaning is also "治也" in the context of management.
And we can also see the 'more antique' meaning from "宰相" (which means "prime minister", not 'someone responsible to cut animals' (butcher) ) and also "主宰".
In fact it's easy to see that the "宰" also follows the same meaning change as described above for "Minnan colloquail 治", i.e. from "to manage" to "to butcher (animals)".
And after the contextual meaning of "宰=to manage(as a monosyllabic word
)" is largely forgotten, the word finally generalizes to "to kill (including human)".
[edit: it once also included the meaning of "cook", as seen from "又屠也，烹也"]
Edited by qrasy, 14 September 2010 - 08:02 AM.