Shou 3 hsiao 4 t'i 4
Head filial fraternal
Begin with filial piety and fraternal love,
Shou was originally written with three wavy strokes at the top, said to represent hair, the lower portion being an obsolete word for head.
Hsiao is composed of 老 lao old (line 24), as seen in combination, as phonetic, and 子 tzu child underneath as radical, thus picturing the idea of the young taking care of the old.
T'i see line 39. The logic shows it cannot be ti.
Tz'u4 chien4 wen2
Second see hear
and then see and hear.
Tz'u is composed of 二 erh two and 欠 ch'ien as radical. The latter now means to owe, but was originally a picture of vapour issuing from a man's head, hence to yawn. Tz'u is explained as not in the front rank or of the best kind.
Chien is composed of 目 mu eye (line 262) as radical, and 人 jen man (line 40). It originally meant to look at, and has come to signify sense perception of any kind.
Wen is composed of 門 men the two leaves of a door (line 22) and 耳 erh ear, and means to hear, to smell. Seeing and hearing stand for the acquisition of knowledge in general.
Chih 1 mou3 shu4
Know certain numbers
Learn to count,
Chih see line 28.
Mou is composed of 木 mu wood as radical, and 甘 kan sweet. It originally meant sour plums, explained exactly as lucus a non lucendo. An old dictionary says, "Things of which the names are not known are mou." The term 某人 mou jen a certain man, is used in reading as a substitute for the personal names of Confucius and Mencius, which may not be uttered.
Shu is composed of 攴 p'u to tap (in composition 夊, see chiao line 5) as radical, with an important phonetic. It originally meant to count, probably based upon tapping, in which sense it is now read shu 3 .
Shih4 mou3 wen2
Know certain characters
and learn to read.
Shih is composed of 言 yen words and an important phonetic. It answers more to connaitre than to savoir.
Mou see line 43.
Wen originally meant cross lines, any markings or veins, streaks on a tiger, etc.; hence the written character, in which sense it was used until the introduction of 字 tzu (see title), and literature, and by extension civilian (see line 189). [Eitel and Pere Zottoli have both missed the point of these two lines. For the latter Eitel has "and understand the several appellatives" whatever that may mean. P. Zottoli has "scias aliquot notiones," the scias following an ut erroneously inserted as a conjunction between lines 42 and 43.]
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