Zhuangzi glossary


cognates of liu

The single use of 翏 liù in Zhuangzi, indeed, in almost all early literature, is in 2:01, where it stands for the sound of the wind, the invisible force that motivates all the chatter of the universe. The wind has no sound or meaning of its own but takes on meaning as it blows through the different mouths and ears. 

Though this character appears only once, cognates occur frequently, often taking on, not surprisingly, opposite and ambiguous meanings. For instance, 瘳 chōu means "to heal" (4:01, 7:05, and 11:11),  but 戮 means "to slaughter" or "punish" (3:01, 4:01, 6:06, 9:01, 10:03, and 12:04). 寥 liáo means absence or emptiness (6:04, 6:07, and 13:04). 謬 miù means disordered or messed up (14:01). Both the pronunciation and meaning of are unclear; in 10:06 it is paired with 油 yóu, "oil" or "grease," but elsewhere it is paired with 清 qīng, "clear." I think it is significant that at the heart of all these characters lies the sound of the wind. (See 6:06 [1].)