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One more question on Kanji

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One more question on Kanji

Postby lonelytraveler8 » Tue 08.11.2009 1:59 pm

In your opinion(s), is it worth it to learn about the common radicals. I'm not sure which ones are common, but I'm sure I could find out.

As far as I know, radicals are the only method of looking up unknown kanji in a dictionary, but would the knowledge help with actually learning the kanji?

Thanks, as always!
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Re: One more question on Kanji

Postby keatonatron » Tue 08.11.2009 2:32 pm

lonelytraveler8 wrote:As far as I know, radicals are the only method of looking up unknown kanji in a dictionary, but would the knowledge help with actually learning the kanji?


It will help you learn to write kanji properly. Some radicals can look quite similar, and it's easy to write the letters incorrectly if you don't know the correct radicals.

One example that was recently brought to my attention is 様. I always thought the bottom-right radical was 水, but it's actually the same as the bottom half of 求 (which is written differently).

I don't think you need to worry too much about the names of the radicals, but knowing which ones exist and how they are written is quite helpful. You can see all the radicals on Jim Breen's page: http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi- ... dic.cgi?1R
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Re: One more question on Kanji

Postby lonelytraveler8 » Tue 08.11.2009 4:25 pm

Thanks, that's exactly what I was wanting to know. I might learn the name of the ones I see the most, simply because I'll have an easier time remember them that way.
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Re: One more question on Kanji

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 08.11.2009 4:35 pm

Other than some tests, the only time it's useful to know the radical names is when you are using an electronic dictionary that does not have writing input. Most dictionaries allow you to enter the names of parts of the kanji to search it, which can be a very fast method for intermediate-advanced learners who are familiar with the names.

(I keep meaning to make a post that lists the names of the elements that have non-obvious names since that information is not readily available in any common source that I know of.)
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Re: One more question on Kanji

Postby jcdietz03 » Tue 08.11.2009 5:45 pm

How do you tell which part is the radical? Is "primary radical" the correct term?

I heard before that it is the "most important part" of the kanji in question. Of course that isn't subjective at all.
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Re: One more question on Kanji

Postby lonelytraveler8 » Tue 08.11.2009 5:48 pm

I always thought that kanji were made completely from radicals. I certainly recognize the same patterns over and over in various kanji.
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Re: One more question on Kanji

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 08.11.2009 5:54 pm

The terms are somewhat confused and don't seem to be standard.

There's a term 部首, often translated "radical" in English. Each kanji has one (and only one) 部首. It's the way in which the character is categorized in traditional dictionaries. So in 部, for instance, the radical is the right part. 立 and 口 are in the character, but they're not the radical, so if you look in a kanji dictionary under the 立 and 口 sections, you probably will not find 部 there.

However, the term is sometimes used more loosely to mean any part of a kanji. I typically try to use the term "component" for that and reserve "radical" for the dictionary classifier, but not everyone does this.

As for the question about how to tell what is the radical, that's a major problem with the traditional classification. Typically the radical is assigned to the character based on the meaning, but not always. Depending on the kanji lookup system you use, determining which piece of a kanji is *the* radical may not be important.
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Re: One more question on Kanji

Postby phreadom » Tue 08.11.2009 6:54 pm

I find this discussion really interesting. I'm one of those people who thought all the "parts" that went into a kanji were the radicals, or at least the ones that were pretty standard.

So the way I thought of it is that there were usually a couple different radicals to a kanji, and thus a few different ways you could look it up etc.

I look forward to learning more about this, as I'm sure fairly soon I'll want to start looking up more kanji in dictionaries etc, and it would be nice to know how to do it by radical.
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Re: One more question on Kanji

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 08.11.2009 7:11 pm

The easiest way to look up kanji is to use something like the online WWWJDIC kanji dictionary which lets you choose more than one element at a time.

If you are using a paper dictionary, you'll have to read the introduction to the dictionary to find out how to look up characters. Dictionaries frequently experiment with alternate lookup methods in an attempt to make things easier; the result of that is that there is no universal way to look up a character in a dictionary.

Most good character dictionaries have cross-references to help you if you look up a kanji by a seemingly obvious radical that turns out to be "wrong". But I honestly have not used a paper kanji dictionary in many years so someone else with more experience may have to address this question.
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Re: One more question on Kanji

Postby becki_kanou » Tue 08.11.2009 8:06 pm

I only ever use my electronic dictionary these days, but in my paper dictionary there was a list of easily mistaken kanji after each radical and directions as to which radical they were actually listed under, as Chris mentioned.
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Re: One more question on Kanji

Postby lonelytraveler8 » Tue 08.11.2009 9:50 pm

Interesting. I don't have a portable electronic dictionary, but the link I was given will work well enough should I run across a written kanji that I don't recognize.
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Re: One more question on Kanji

Postby CerpinTaxt » Wed 08.12.2009 2:12 am

lonelytraveler8 wrote:Interesting. I don't have a portable electronic dictionary, but the link I was given will work well enough should I run across a written kanji that I don't recognize.


I'm surprised no one has mentioned the IME Pad. Although it might be faster (sometimes) to use WWWJDIC to look up some Kanji, the IME Pad is also an amazing tool. You just need to make sure you write the Kanji from left to write and top to bottom. No matter how horribly you write the Kanji, for the most part, the IME Pad will be able to find the Kanji. Here's an example where I wrote 結 in an absurd way (but still following the general left to write and top to bottom) and was still able to find the correct Kanji. (As clarification the red box was added by me.)

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Re: One more question on Kanji

Postby phreadom » Wed 08.12.2009 3:06 am

Can you give us a little pointer as to how to get to the kanji pad? I seem to recall that it's included in the Windows IME, but I haven't ever used it personally. :(
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Re: One more question on Kanji

Postby keatonatron » Wed 08.12.2009 4:04 am

Click on the bucket picture in the IME (it's a little yellow bucket with a red pencil and a magnifying glass in it) and choose the top option: "手書き" (The menu that pops up is all in Japanese for me. It might say "handwriting" if your menu shoes in English).

You will see there is also a 部首 option, that lets you search kanji by their radical. Perhaps a good learning tool.
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Re: One more question on Kanji

Postby hyperconjugated » Wed 08.12.2009 4:26 am

There's also this neat internet application similar to IME pad:

Handwritten kanji recognition

draw, pick&choose and it takes you to jim breen's site
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