Happy Pesach everybody! To commemorate the holiday, I’ve decided to discuss the characters below for tonight’s Monday Mandarin Meaning:
This word, zhàměng, means “grasshopper”, a subset of which represent locusts, one of the Ten Plagues. I was going to do huángchóng, which specifically means “locust”, but to be honest, the first character consists of the radicals for insect and emperor, and I couldn’t think of even a convoluted interpretation that would apply! So we’ll stick with grasshopper.
Like words that have starred on previous Mondays, the radical chóng makes an appearance twice (see here, here and, most importantly, here). But the radical at the right of the first character is zhà, which means “suddenly”. The reason for this can be easily understood with consideration of the lifestyle of locus grasshopper species. These species are as harmless as usual species, until their population becomes overcrowded. This stimulates “gregarious” behavior, so that individuals band together, and induces greater growth in nymphs. Then, suddenly, locust swarms will sweep across the land, causing such devastation to vegetation, including crops, that they are used for the eighth plague!
The second character contains the radical mèng, which can mean “eldest among brothers”. Hmmmm… a reference to the tenth plague, perhaps? Perhaps? I’ll let you decide.