ChineseEdit

phonetic
trad. (荔枝)
simp. #(荔枝)
alternative forms
 
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荔枝

EtymologyEdit

Unknown. First attested as 離支 in the “Rhapsody on the Shanglin Park” (上林賦) by Sima Xiangru of the West Han dynasty. During the time of Emperor Wu of Han, lychee was one of the exotic plants cultivated in the grand imperial Shanglin Park, introduced from China's south.

Traditionally, has been interpreted as equivalent to (“to sever; to partition”), based on an excerpt from Funan-ji (扶南記), a now-lost text cited in other works, such as the Taiping Guangji (太平廣記):

荔枝結實枝條不可摘取刀斧 [Classical Chinese, trad.]
荔枝结实枝条不可摘取刀斧 [Classical Chinese, simp.]
From: Taiping Guangji (Extensive Records of the Taiping Era), 978 CE
Lìzhī wéi míng zhě, yǐ qí jiéshí shí, zhītiáo ruò ér dì láo, bùkě zhāiqǔ, yǐ dāofǔ lí qǔ qí zhī, gù yǐ wéi míng. [Pinyin]
That which bears the name lizhi, when it bears fruits, the small branches are weak but the stem is firm, so it cannot be picked by hand and must be severed with a knife or axe, hence its name.

The Compendium of Materia Medica, citing the “Preface to Lychee Painting” (荔枝圖序) by Bai Juyi, interprets 離支 orthographically:

離支 [Classical Chinese, trad.]
离支 [Classical Chinese, simp.]
From: The Compendium of Materia Medica [Bencao Gangmu], by Li Shizhen, 1578 CE
Bái Jūyì yún: ruò lí běn zhī, yī rì sè biàn, sān rì wèi biàn. Zé lìzhī zhī míng, yòu huò qǔ cǐ yì yě. [Pinyin]
Bai Juyi said, “If it [lychee] was removed from the branch, its colour will change in a day, its taste in three days.” So the name lizhi [lit. “removed from branch”] may be chosen for this meaning.

Recent studies have discounted the above as folk etymologies, proposing instead that it is a disyllabic borrowing from a Kra-Dai language during the Late Old Chinese period; compare modern Zhuang laehcei, Tai Nüa ᥛᥣᥐᥱᥐᥣᥭᥱ (mǎakkǎay), Hlai coeis (Wei, 2000; Ban and Su, 2017). The precise shape of the source word is now obscure, and there are two possibilities that can explain the disyllabicity of the borrowing (Ban and Su, 2017):

  • That the first syllable transcribed a Tai-Kadai class noun (perhaps “fruit”), and the second syllable, (OC *kje), corresponded to the Tai-Kadai name for “lychee”; or
  • That the Tai-Kadai source word for “lychee” was disyllabic and already not easily analysable.

PronunciationEdit


Note: liān-chi - often written as 蓮枝.

Rime
Character
Reading # 1/2 1/1
Initial () (37) (23)
Final () (11) (11)
Tone (調) Departing (H) Level (Ø)
Openness (開合) Open Open
Division () III III
Fanqie
Reconstructions
Zhengzhang
Shangfang
/liᴇH/ /t͡ɕiᴇ/
Pan
Wuyun
/liɛH/ /t͡ɕiɛ/
Shao
Rongfen
/ljɛH/ /t͡ɕjɛ/
Edwin
Pulleyblank
/liə̆H/ /ciə̆/
Li
Rong
/lieH/ /t͡ɕie/
Wang
Li
/lǐeH/ /t͡ɕǐe/
Bernard
Karlgren
/lie̯H/ /t͡ɕie̯/
Expected
Mandarin
Reflex
zhī
Expected
Cantonese
Reflex
lei6 zi1

NounEdit

 
荔枝

荔枝

  1. lychee (Litchi chinensis)

SynonymsEdit

HyponymsEdit

HypernymsEdit

Derived termsEdit

DescendantsEdit

Sino-Xenic (荔枝):

Others: