How do I learn radicals?
There doesn't seem to be any material on Cpod for learning radicals. Or have I missed something? I'm trying to learn writing via the awesome Skritter, and I recognize some radicals but can't remember what they mean. So, any tips on a resource for learning them?
xiaophilAugust 29, 2009, 11:34 PM
When I write, knowing the meaning of the radicals helps me big time when trying to remember how to form the characters. It also makes it more interesting for me. Just my 2 cents.
sebireAugust 29, 2009, 09:47 AM
OK, I have never bothered learning radicals. I've just never understood the point. For example, knowing 纟means silk does not help me remember 给。I just know that 给 is written like that and that 纟turns up lots, along with 合. It just sounds like a lot of effort learning individual components by themselves, when you can just pick them up implicitely by learning to write lots of characters.
TalAugust 29, 2009, 10:20 AM
I guess the point is that even a rudimentary knowledge (like my own!) will give you a deeper understanding and appreciation of the written language. It does also help actually, to understand the meaning of an unfamiliar character if you at least understand the radical, and of course it's essential if you ever plan to be able to use a real Chinese dictionary, (the kind that's not written with Pinyin in mind.)
There is a list of all 214 radicals here (简体字), but I think anyone serious about this should get hold of a book or two and pick up a pen.
sebireAugust 29, 2009, 10:55 AM
But tal, I've used radical look-up (as I never learnt pinyin as a kid) without ever learning radicals formally. Just look for something important in the character (left hand side or top), count the strokes, bang. Sorted. Ｗith some characters knowing what the individual components mean can help you remember the word (e.g. 笔), but I find most of the time it doesn't. I dunno, maybe I am just lucky that I am a visual thinker and must have absorbed them without realising.
sebireAugust 29, 2009, 12:27 PM
Yeah, I was one of these unfortunates that had to go to Chinese school as a child. It's more the systematic learning of radicals as a task in itself that I have never bothered with. Of course all Chinese characters are made up of components, it's just that if you learn to write a character, you've probably learnt to write three of the components plus a whole word, which seems to me far more efficient than learning radicals by themselves, unless they are themselves a word. Whatever floats people's boat, it's just that everyone goes on about radicals, yet I haven't found a compelling reason to learn them individually. I wondered if I was missing something.
bababardwanAugust 29, 2009, 12:37 PM
I wondered if I was missing something.
..you probably aren't but for me I'm interested in what the radical means and thus what meaning it imparts to characters it's found in.Also interesting the way the characters morph somewhat at times as in tal's beaut example above with xin.
markAugust 29, 2009, 01:09 PM
I think careful observation is a good tool for learning radicals. When I was studying for the HSK (and trying to learn to write characters by hand) I noticed many repeated patterns in characters. I think not all of them are formally radicals, but if you look at enough characters closely enough, you will definitely start seeing patterns. (e.g. 街 is 行 with the right half of 挂 or 哇 stuck in the middle.)
TalAugust 29, 2009, 11:33 AM
OK well now I can see why you personally feel 'there's no point'. Perhaps with your Chinese ancestry (?) you always had them around you from childhood to some extent, and did indeed 'absorb them without realising' (?)
It's certainly not like that for me, (and I assume for others new to learning Chinese.) Mastering every character is a small struggle, retaining it in long term memory is another. I find considering every aspect of a character of use in this struggle.
Personally I don't make a special point of learning 'individual components by themselves', just bearing in mind what common characters share which radicals, (and after all many radicals are in fact complete characters by themselves, so you might as well know that they are radicals too.)
And it just seems intrinsically wrong to me not to take in and consider (for example) that both 心 and 忄are the same thing (heart) and that the 忄is commonly found in words relating to emotions.