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做 versus 作 — a curious couple of characters!

做 zuo4

做 zuo4 is a VERY common character; it means to make, to do. Apparently it was coined recently since it does NOT appear in the liu shu tong, jia gu wen, or any other ancient sources.  Possibly it was coined to distinguish it from 作 zuo4 which ALSO means to make or do! Decomposing these characters may help.

This zuo4 做 should be understood as a hui yi zi, an associative compound character, person ren on the left and gu intentional on the right 故 gu4. 故 is a hand with a hammer on the left INTENTIONALLY hitting an old person to kill them and end their suffering. I promised you truth, not ponies.

ren+gu have no phonetic clue for zuo4 and so this 做 zuo4 must be an associative compound character and not a pictophonetic character. So this zuo4 做 means that which people intend to attain, and is make or do in exactly that sense.

Unlike 做, this zuo4, namely 作 is found in the oracle bone script.

https://hanziyuan.net/# INTENTIONAL OBTENTION, INTENTIONAL ACTION. ZUO4

 

乍 zha4

stitched spread out cloth as a symbol of work SPREAD, STAND ON END, BRISTLING by extension AT FIRST, ABRUPTLY as a cloth which breaks

Later determinanents were added to distinguish meaning from metaphor. https://hanziyuan.net/#乍

 

作 zuo4

WORKS, TO WORK, WRITE, COMPOSE

work is that which is done by people thus the ren, person, on the left is added to show not the product itself but the production thereof. https://hanziyuan.net/#作

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/作

作 zuo4 PRODUCTIVE WORKS, TO WORK

I hate to send you to look elsewhere but as a non-native speaker I must. Regarding the usage of the two zuo4 both of which mean MAKE, DO Angela Fang says…

http://blog.tutorming.com/mandarin-chinese-learning-tips/how-to-use-zuo-in-chinese-grammar

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