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Big Question

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Big Question

Postby ben » Thu 02.24.2005 8:43 pm

Hey, i have asked this alot and you might be tired of me but can anyone give me an answer that they are sure of.

I need to know something about Kanji. I understand radical and that they are usually the base of the kanji sybol that is used but where do you get the other symbols from. I know that it is combining sybols. What is it combing radicals with radicals, or radicals and (as it said in a book i have about kanji) graphemes. I know that if you have 'fire' as the radical and 'black' as the other symbol above 'fire' that makes 'soot'. Beacause the black stuff that fire gives off is soot.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but as in the word 'day of the week', the radical is 'day' and the other two sybols mean 'old bird' and 'wings' i believe, so it's supposed to be like the sun flying across the sky.

If anyone can help explain how all of this is put together please tell me. I just need to know that if someone didn't know the kanji for something would they be able to figure it out by knowing the radicals, hiragana or katakana. Or graphemes...whatever those may be???
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RE: Big Question

Postby hihlordjp » Thu 02.24.2005 11:59 pm

ben wrote:
Hey, i have asked this alot and you might be tired of me but can anyone give me an answer that they are sure of.

I need to know something about Kanji. I understand radical and that they are usually the base of the kanji sybol that is used but where do you get the other symbols from. I know that it is combining sybols. What is it combing radicals with radicals, or radicals and (as it said in a book i have about kanji) graphemes. I know that if you have 'fire' as the radical and 'black' as the other symbol above 'fire' that makes 'soot'. Beacause the black stuff that fire gives off is soot.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but as in the word 'day of the week', the radical is 'day' and the other two sybols mean 'old bird' and 'wings' i believe, so it's supposed to be like the sun flying across the sky.

If anyone can help explain how all of this is put together please tell me. I just need to know that if someone didn't know the kanji for something would they be able to figure it out by knowing the radicals, hiragana or katakana. Or graphemes...whatever those may be???


The radicals of a kanji don't always tell you what the whole kanji means. Like in the kanji for sound, 音, You have the radical for "stand" 立 and "day" 日 but the meaning of the whole kanji isn't obvious judging from the two.

May I ask you to clarify your question...?
俺様は何時か此の地球の帝王に成るぞ!
...ジョウダンだよ。ヘヘ ^^;;

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RE: Big Question

Postby clay » Fri 02.25.2005 12:03 am

Radicals can often help understand the meaning, but not always. Sometimes due to simplification of characters or other reasons you can't always add 1+1. But learning radicals can certainly help remember kanji.

I am not totally sure what your question is, but just take kanji one step at a time. There is no way to fully understand all there is to know about kanji from the beginning. Believe me, it will be a lifelong hobby. B)
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RE: Big Question

Postby Mukade » Fri 02.25.2005 12:10 am

...radicals and (as it said in a book i have about kanji) graphemes...

Radicals and graphemes are the same things. Most people use the term radicals.

All kanji are made up of radicals. There are a finite number of them, and this makes our job of learning kanji a little bit easier. There are 214 classified radicals in Japanese, and of those, I'd say about 50 are commonly used. The remainder are radicals that are either 1) a variation of the common 50 or 2) very infrequently used. If you learn the radicals, then when you learn a new kanji, rather than trying to make sense of a random jumble of lines, you will be thinking to yourself "OK, Samurai/One/Carpenter's Square/One/Mouth/Japanese Inch" (if you can figure out which kanji I've just described, you get a virtual prize;)). It may seem daunting at first, but trust me...it's much easier than brute memorization.

In fact, taking these radicals and making a story out of them (as you've done with your day of the week example) is probably one of the most common ways that non-natives learn kanji. There are several good books out there that teach kanji using this method, the two that I've used in the past include Kenneth Henshall's "A Guide to Remembering the Japanese Characters" and James Heisig's "Remembering the Kanji" (a three-volume course).

...if someone didn't know the kanji for something would they be able to figure it out by knowing the radicals...


I would say that, upon seeing a new kanji, although it would be impossible to derive its exact meaning from its radicals, you can often discern what its "theme" is. For example, any kanji with the flesh radical on the left has something to do with the human body. Or any kanji with the sickness radical on the top and the left has - obviously - some connection to an illness. Anything with the clam radical is going to be connected to economics (think money=clams).

And so on.

There are plenty of instances, however, where some radicals are being used simply as phonetic reminders. For example, the character go (from Nihongo) is a combination of the say radical on the left and an honorific form of I on the right. That I element was pronounced go in ancient Chinese. So, when a Chinese would look at this character, they would think "OK, something to do with saying that is pronounced go - must be language."

There are a number of examples, too, where the original meaning for a character was lost and replaced by a new one (one example - the character for the number 5 was originally the character for spool). So knowing the meaning of the radical won't always help illuminate the meaning, but I think it will still definitely help in learning a new kanji.

Everyone has their own learning style, so do what works for you. But I would suggest: when studying a new kanji, look into the meaning of its component radicals. It might help you remember that kanji. It will be time-consuming at first, but then you will start recognizing certain radicals, and your job will start to get easier.

Hopefully, this has helped shed some light on the subject for you. Did it all make sense?
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RE: Big Question

Postby ben » Fri 02.25.2005 12:13 am

Yes i guess what I am really asking is is there a way to figure out a sybol kanji without knowing it all. Like if you forgot it could you figure it out. What is a kanji made of. What all do tou combine to make the symbol. Is it all made up of radicals or what...? What are the other signs in the kanji besides the radical. I mean i know why they are there i jut need to know if you know all of the radicals can you figure out what other symbols to put together to make a full symbol.
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RE: Big Question

Postby ben » Fri 02.25.2005 12:15 am

thanks for helping me out and i was restating the question because what i asked might have not made sense...
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RE: Big Question

Postby Mukade » Fri 02.25.2005 12:20 am

If you don't know a character for a particular concept or word, then the only way to find out is to look it up.

For example: If you don't know the character for day of the week, it doesn't matter that you know all the radicals; you'll still have to look it up to figure it out.

On the other hand - If you knew a kanji, but have forgotten it, then having a story made from the radicals can help you to remember.

For example: You knew the character for day of the week, but having forgotten it, fall back on your "radical story" - "each day, the sun is carried across the sky by a winged bird."
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RE: Big Question

Postby ben » Fri 02.25.2005 12:33 am

Mukade,
Im not sure what kanji you are talking about. I just started looking into kanji and the book i have, although it is good, it is confusing and i dont think it is working out. Do you have a book or something that you would recommend. One that shows the meanings of the radical and the other symbols with it? If you know of one please tell me. Or if anyone else knows.

Thanks
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RE: Big Question

Postby ben » Fri 02.25.2005 12:39 am

The book i do have has 1994 kanji and it is good but it jus shows the sybols that make up the word and has a number at the bottom and tells me to look at the grapheme. It is kind of a confusing book. It makes it seem like graphemes and radicals are different by showing many varieties and not giving meaning. othe3rwise if im just going to memorize the kanji the book is great, with all of the strokes.
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RE: Big Question

Postby Mukade » Fri 02.25.2005 8:49 am

Henshall's "Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters" gives the actual historical evolution of each of the Joyo Kanji.

Heisig's "Remembering the Kanji" will tell you the meaning of each radical and then help you build stories with those radicals to aid in remembering.

The Nelson's Kanji Dictionary organizes characters by their radicals, and it explains the meaning of the radicals under each heading.

But don't take my word for it: there are literally hundreds of resource books out there on kanji. Go down to your local bookstore and leaf through a few - surf the internet and investigate different texts and different learning styles.

Find something that fits what you're looking for - something that teaches the way you like to learn.

I think that's what's most important.
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RE: Big Question

Postby ben » Fri 02.25.2005 9:31 am

ok thanks!
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RE: Big Question

Postby Qbe » Fri 02.25.2005 10:15 am

You can sample the Heisig method by following this link: scroll down to the small print at the bottom where it says, "Portions of this book are available for downloading and reading with Adobe Acrobat". Click on "downloading" and you should see it.

Using the Heisig method you actually learn the meanings of the kanji first, then you go back (with the second book) to learn the readings of the kanji. I have a few more comments on it, but you can read them yourself in the "Japanese Language Proficiency Test" part of the forum. To make a long story short, this method isn't for everyone. The best thing to do is read the sample to see if it works for you.
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RE: Big Question

Postby ben » Fri 02.25.2005 11:20 am

thanks, i was on another websit, http://www.kanjistudyguide.com and i think it said the website is based on that book... ??
Last edited by ben on Fri 02.25.2005 12:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Big Question

Postby Spaztick » Fri 02.25.2005 1:01 pm

Fill in this sentence:

"I can make ________ out of lemons and water and sugar."

Now obvioulsy the answer is lemonade. How do you know? You see the rest of the sentence. The same can be said for the Kanji in Japanese.

"Boku wa toki nihongo o _____ yotei, okane o motsu."

When I plan to ______ Japan, I'll have money.

Now one could fill in "visit" or "go to" or anything like that. You don't have to know the exact definition, but you could use the kanji anywhere else that means close to the same thing. Make sense?
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RE: Big Question

Postby hihlordjp » Fri 02.25.2005 1:51 pm

Spaztick wrote:
Fill in this sentence:

"I can make ________ out of lemons and water and sugar."

Now obvioulsy the answer is lemonade. How do you know? You see the rest of the sentence. The same can be said for the Kanji in Japanese.

"Boku wa toki nihongo o _____ yotei, okane o motsu."

When I plan to ______ Japan, I'll have money.

Now one could fill in "visit" or "go to" or anything like that. You don't have to know the exact definition, but you could use the kanji anywhere else that means close to the same thing. Make sense?


I don't think Ben meant to ask about which kanji to use given a certain context within a sentence. He was referring to individual kanji.
俺様は何時か此の地球の帝王に成るぞ!
...ジョウダンだよ。ヘヘ ^^;;

「君という光が私を見つける // 真夜中に」-- 「光」という歌より(歌手:宇多田ヒカル)
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