Help establishing a memory system for Chinese radicals?

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#1 10 November, 2017 - 08:20
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Help establishing a memory system for Chinese radicals?


I've decided to learn all of the Chinese radicals by December. I have a crude PAO system worked out for the pronunciation, but I'm struggling to work out tying it to the character.

So let's say I'm trying to learn 丶. The pronunciation is Zhu3, and it means dot. So I remember the pronunciation by seeing a butler unearthing a cup, and now I need to tie it to the drawing and the meaning. What if after he unearths the cup, a drop of tea falls out, and I see it in the shape of the character?

Is there a better way to tackle this? My concern is that this will be good for helping me associate the pronunciation with the character and meaning, but it will be hard to go the other way.

1 December, 2017 - 20:23
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Joined: 3 years 6 months ago

I haven't tried learning Chinese characters. Where does "cup" come from?

2 December, 2017 - 23:18
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I suggest first having a code for the tones and the consonants of the pronunciation. Then, another one for the graphical representation of the radical. There are not so many radicals and the system of memorization should not be very complicated. There are many resources in the internet to connect the radical with the meaning, and most of them are very straightforward, the only thing to really memorize is the pronunciation.
Said that, I don't suggest learning the pronunciation of the radicals until there is a bit of fluency in the language. On the contrary, just to write the radical and know how to write it is very useful.
If the scope of this is just to progress in the study of Chinese, it is more practical at the beginning, in my opinion, just to assign any name to the radical instead of the pronunciation.
Very often, when describing a character by its parts, a Chinese will not always pronounce the radical but use the name.
For instance, the radical of 徐 might be described as 双人傍, that is not the pronunciation(chi), but the name(shuang ren bang).
The radical of 语, this is 言, sometimes described as 言字旁. In this case it includes the pronunciation.

https://store.mandarinposter.com/simplified-chinese-radicals-list-free-p...

At the bottom of this website there is a table. What you call pronunciation appears there as "pinyin" and what I call "description" appears there as "colloquial". What I want to say is that is more useful to learn the description than the pinyin (sometimes they coincide).
In your example of 丶the colloquial is 一点, and I think it is more useful to learn yidian, than zhu.
And if your Chinese is still basic, it is more practical just to learn 丶as "finger“, or 瓦 as "supermarket cart", than with the real pronunciation or explanation. (just for the record, for me 瓦 is Wall-e, because it was the character used in the movie of the same name)

But obviously, all this depends on what is your objective and your current level of Chinese.

2 December, 2017 - 23:33
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In addition to that, it is useful to know which part of the memorization is difficult for you: the graphical representation? the consonant? the ending? the tone? the meaning?, what I call the "explanation"? and then focus on it.
I think you are trying to memorize many things at the same time. I'd rather go step by step: for instance, first the drawing, then other stuff.

11 December, 2017 - 17:43
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Joined: 5 years 4 months ago

Thank you for asking the question, Lieu. And thank you again (different thread) for such valuable advice, Liam.

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