So there I was, in a taxi from Taipei airport to my hotel, staring out the window. It was my first trip to Asia (I was on a business trip) and I was staring at the road signs, all written in Chinese.
I noticed one sign which appeared at every exit to the highway: 出口.
You don't have to be too smart to work out that the sign means something like "exit" or "offramp", and I asked my Taiwanese colleague about this the next day.
She explained ...
The first symbol is 出 (chū) which means "outside". It's made up of two mountains (山)(shān). The next symbol is: 口 (kǒu) which means "mouth". In other words, it's the "mouth to the outside", or "exit".
And it was intuitive that "mouth" should look like 口, that a mountain looks like 山, and indeed that "outside" could be represented by two mountains.
She gave me another example. The character 王 (wáng) means king. Apparently, it comes from the fact that there is heaven, man, and earth - and those three dimensions are"connected" by the King.
I was hooked.