Bookstore Yan Ji You’s Name is a Character Breakdown

22 Nov 2017

In Shanghai’s Changning Raffles City (长宁来福士) mall, there’s a new bookstore called Yan Ji You (言几又). Does that name strike you as weird? It should. It’s a weird name. is used as a word by itself mostly just in classical Chinese, but then the use of (grammar points here) and (grammar points here) also don’t make sense. What’s going on?

Yan Ji You logo

It’s not obvious, but the name as a deconstruction of the character , as in 设计, the word for “design.” When you break down the character 设, you can break it into “left-right” structure (⿰) first, giving you 讠 and 殳. Then 殳 can be further broken down as a top-bottom structure (⿱), giving you 讠, 几, 又. But 讠 (the “speech radical”) is just a simplified stand-in for 言, and 言 looks way better as a stand-alone character anyway, so the end result is 言几又.

This kind of naming method is not entirely obvious, even to native speakers, and it’s not super common, either, from what I can tell. You can read more about 言几又 in Chinese on their Baidu Baike page.

There are reasons to visit other than “logo tourism”… It’s quite a nice bookstore! Here are a few more shots of the place:

Yan Ji You 01

Yan Ji You 02

Yan Ji You 04

Yan Ji You 05

Yan Ji You 03

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

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