Kungfucius is as kungfuced about radicals as your average American Joe. But with these tips, you can get up to speed on learning Chinese radicals:
Hey there young language scholar! So you want to know about Chinese radicals? Well, you’re in luck because we’ve got the scoop on these little building blocks of Chinese characters.
What are Chinese radicals?
First things first, what are Chinese radicals? Radicals are the component parts of Chinese characters that give clues to the character’s pronunciation and meaning. There are 214 traditional Chinese radicals and 188 simplified Chinese radicals. That’s a lot of radicals to wrap your head around, but don’t worry, you don’t need to learn them all at once.
Most used Chinese radicals
Now, which radicals are the most used? That’s a tough question, because it really depends on the context and the characters you’re working with. Some of the most commonly used radicals include the radical for water (氵), the radical for heart (心), and the radical for mouth (口). These radicals appear in a variety of characters and are important to know for both reading and writing Chinese.
So there you have it! Chinese radicals may seem intimidating at first, but with some practice and a good resource, you’ll be well on your way to mastering them in no time.
Pronunciation in Pinyin of common radicals
And how to pronounce this stuff? Here you go:
- Water radical (氵): This radical is pronounced as “shui3” in pinyin. Example characters that include this radical include 水 (shui3, meaning water), 海 (hai3, meaning sea), and 洗 (xi3, meaning wash).
- Heart radical (心): This radical is pronounced as “xin1” in pinyin. Example characters that include this radical include 心 (xin1, meaning heart), 想 (xiang3, meaning think), and 意 (yi4, meaning idea).
- Mouth radical (口): This radical is pronounced as “kou3” in pinyin. Example characters that include this radical include 口 (kou3, meaning mouth), 说 (shuo1, meaning speak), and 吃 (chi1, meaning eat).
In Chinese, the word for “radical” is 部首 (bùshǒu). This word literally means “component head,” referring to the fact that radicals are the component parts of Chinese characters that give clues to their pronunciation and meaning.
For example, you could say “我在学习汉字的部首” (wǒ zài xuéxí hànzì de bùshǒu) to mean “I am learning the radicals of Chinese characters.”
Learning Chinese radicals
Learning Chinese radicals can be a daunting task, but fear not! There are plenty of resources available to help you conquer these pesky little building blocks of Chinese characters.
Book recommendations to learn Chinese radicals
For starters, there are books like “Chinese Radicals: An Analytical Dictionary” and “Remembering the Kanji” that can help you understand the meanings and functions of Chinese radicals. But let’s be real, who has time to read a whole book these days? Luckily, there are also websites and apps like Chinese-Tools.com and Skritter that can give you the rundown on Chinese radicals in a more efficient manner.
Traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese
Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room – the difference between traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese. Traditional Chinese is used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau, while simplified Chinese is used in mainland China and Singapore. In other words, one group of people said “hey, these characters are too complicated, let’s make them easier to write” and the other group was like “nope, we’re good with the extra strokes thank you very much.”
Pronouncing Chinese radicals
As for pronunciation, Chinese radicals are pronounced just like Chinese characters. Each radical has its own unique pronunciation, and learning how to say them correctly is crucial for not making a fool of yourself. A tip for mastering the pronunciation of Chinese radicals is to listen to native speakers and practice repeating the sounds out loud. Or you know, just make up your own pronunciation and hope for the best.
In conclusion, the key to learning Chinese radicals is to find a combination of resources that work for you and to practice regularly. With some dedication and a good sense of humor, you’ll be a pro at these pesky radicals in no time!
Check out the other articles about learning Chinese here at Kungfucius:
And of course the classic question: Should you learn traditional or simplified Chinese