First set of 8 building blocks
Each character in this phrase contributes to a part of the definition, which makes it very easy for you to learn! If we break it down, we can see that 火 (fire), 山 (mountain) and 口 (mouth) combine to literally mean “fire mountain’s mouth”, or “mouth of the fire mountain”. 火山 means volcano, and the mouth of the volcano is the crater at the top of the mountain where lava erupts! So, it’s very logical that the phrase 火山口 translates to the English word “crater”. Note that this only refers to volcanic craters, and not craters made from asteroids or other objects.
“Fire Mountain” sounds like a dangerous video game level, but actually it’s just the literal translation of this phrase’s building blocks: 火(fire) and 山 (mountain). Sometimes I’m a little worried about the fact that the ground beneath my feet is part of a constantly moving set of tectonic plates resting on a bed of magma, which is constantly looking for a way to escape to the surface! Yikes!
This character contains three of our tree building blocks all squished together. It’s structure is actually very similar to the character 焱 (yan2), which means “flame”. Like western culture, the forest is sometimes associated with darkness in Chinese, so we can find this compound in phrases that mean things like “gloomy”, “eerie”, and “dark”.
This is a great building block to learn because it’s just so easy to recognise, even when surrounded by other characters. In ancient Chinese writing, this character resembled the profile of a walking person.
This building block looks like a person waving both arms, as if she or he were frantically yelling: “Help, help, I’m on fire!”. Originally, 火 was just a pictogram in the shape of a flame, but I like to think of a person on fire instead!