Posted by: felishkulitz | April 10, 2010

Radicals of Han Characters


The Chinese character zhèng (unknown meaning)....
Image via Wikipedia

A blizzard of complicated characters is what I see whenever I browse east Asian literatures. Hanzi, hanja, kanji or whatever name people call this set of characters, it is all the same. It may have variations, simplifications or locally added (invented) characters, it is still the same.

Han characters consist of well over 50 thousand characters or so. Not to mention the various styles in which they are written. We can easily say that it is too much of a burden to an aspirant scholar during the times when the sons of heaven or the rulers of heaven or the people of heaven walk this earth. With this rich collection, one may wonder how they organize and compile this marvelous items of the written paradise. I remember that some compilations organize it by sounds which were devotedly arranged by a team of scholars. Others arranged them by the number of strokes. Still another divide the collection by their respective radicals.

I have seen a couple of site in which they list 214 radicals or what Putonhua speakers call “bushou” and “bushu” by the Japanese speakers. The first site shows the list of radicals with their Chinese names plus the simplified counterpart and some variants. The other site has their Japanese names which also present a column for variants.

Since each radicals have its own meaning, studying it may help us to understand the items which belong to them. Although there are characters which I find hard to imagine why they belong to a certain radical, it is still useful and who knows maybe a daily reflection on these will show us their relations to each other. If that will be the case, it then encourages me to consider it as a method or learning.

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