With a couple of questions I asked here, It has been suggested that Chinese Stack Exchange would have been a better place to ask:

What's the etymology of 점심 (點心) meaning 'lunch'?

Origin of character 威 (위)

Obviously the first question has a Korean-specific aspect to it (I'm asking about '점심', which for all I know might have nuances in usage or meaning that require some different explanation to '點心' as used in Chinese), while the second one perhaps doesn't.

Where do we drawn the line between Hanja-related questions that belong on this site, and questions that belong on Chinese.SE?


1 Answer 1


When asking questions about 한자 and 한자어, my opinion is that one should clearly differentiate between

  1. Character/Word Origins;
  2. Meaning and evolution of meaning upon importation into Korean.

Point 1 should be asked in Chinese SE, whereas point 2 should be asked in Korean SE. An exception for Point 1 should arise if prior research effort has clearly shown that the word first originated in Korean or Wasei-Kango, with the latter asked in Japanese SE. This is mainly because we don't have a shared SE forum for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean for Point 1, and I don't get the impression that most fluent Korean speakers on Korean SE are Hanja-literate enough to dig through walls of text in Chinese (which are most suitable to answer Point 1).

The consequences of not splitting Points 1 and 2 can be seen on Japanese SE, where for questions on character origins, most native speakers are answering questions on the basis of the character explanations (解字) section of their Japanese dictionary, in many cases providing conflicting explanations and also getting the explanation wrong, because Japanese scholarship on Chinese character paleography is quite outdated and misinformed.

As for the two example questions you've mentioned,

  • 點心 is originally a Chinese slang word, and the origin/etymology should be asked in Chinese SE, while the specific meaning of Lunch can only be found in Korean language examples, so that meaning should be asked here and Korean speakers should provide dictionary references.

  • The character origin of 威 should be asked in Chinese SE and kept there. The accepted answer has gotten the component explanations correct (戌 is a weapon, 女 is woman), but the interpretation of the compounded form 威 seems to be largely incorrect and which I suspect is from a Korean dictionary parroting Shuowen Jiezi. Academic resources on ancient characters refer to 威 as having the original meaning of fear because a woman carrying a battle axe was an extremely fearsome sight to behold, as it was exceedingly rare for women to participate in military expeditions. This interpretation is far more convincing, because 威 has the secondary meaning of 'powerful/to dominate'.

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