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phyrex

Characters outside of familiar context: Problem, Solution, and RFC

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chrix

I noticed another thing when doing my Anki character reviews, that for certain characters that almost exclusively appear in one specific word, like 玫瑰的瑰 (it does appear in other words, but 玫瑰 is by far the most frequently used), I sometimes associate it more with the combination than with the character, so if the second character appears and I'm under pressure to pronounce it quickly, then I will sometimes spontaneously say the first character, like 玫 in this case.

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phyrex

Happens to me all the freaking time. Take 吝啬. If you'd give me 啬, i *MIGHT* recognize it (but most likely not. This is why I started this thread ;) ), but I wouldn't know if it was the lin or the se!

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phyrex

It is an odd word. That's probably why it came to my mind so readily :) Then again, if I'd question all the little odd things in Chinese, I'd never get around to actually learning any!

But hey, you know what character fascinated me recently? 屡. Why does 屎 on 女 mean 'repeatedly'? Does it tell us something about Chinese culture? ;)

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chrix

Have a look at the traditional form :wink: :

But this reminds me of this joke criticising the simplified characters:

愛 without heart

toilet stalls 開關 without doors,

and I forget the other ones...

EDIT: on a more serious note, why I started that "unexpected phonetic component" thread, is that I don't think that everything is equally odd. If you remember the exceptions amongst all these phonetic components, I think it will go a long way towards helping you memorise the readings correctly, as there's all the rest that are not exceptions...

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phyrex

Yeah, I saw that one, but somebody made the change, and you can't tell me that this person didn't know the meaning of 屎. So, let's say it tells you something about post-revolutionary Chinese culture, not Chinese culture as a whole, okay? ;)

Edit (because of your edit :P ):

Sure, it's not all odd, I didn't mean to say that. I meant all the little things that you come across in Chinese that puzzle you, not just phonetic readings :) You know, strange characters, quirky chengyu, odd constructions, funny fangyan expressions, these kinds of things.

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chrix

This simplification of 婁 to 娄 had been in use before, and even the Japanese use that, and it kinda naturally follows from a cursive way of writing the character anyways.

So I don't think this has anything to do with 屎. I mean it's clear that 尸 is the radical and 娄 the phonetic, it would be quite counterintuitive to analyse it as 屎 and 女. I think it's a great joke though, and I'll use it to talk about "collateral damage" caused by the character reform :D

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phyrex

I'm not taking that seriously either, but let me have my jokes! :P

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valikor
This is the very reason why I have always had two decks -- one with the most common characters and one with the most common words.

Is there any particular format that you find helpful for such a deck? Is it just characters with meanings? (That's what you're doing, right phyrex?) Or maybe a list of words that contain the character?

I'm wondering if the latter might be a good idea, since the "meaning" of individual characters is often too abstract for me to remember, and sometimes not very practical, if the characters aren't used individually. Plus I wonder if seeing a list of words that share 1 character might allow words to reinforce each other... (since sometimes I know words, and know the characters involved in the word, but have trouble remembering exactly which characters are in the word since there are many similar characters with identical pronunciations, all of which I "know")

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phyrex

Yes, that's what I'm doing. Words are important, but apparently they're not all you need to remember the characters. Or at least not if your brain works like mine, and is not spending more energy than it needs to recognize things. And if the general shape of two characters is enough to recognize a word, my brain doesn't bother to really look at the characters.

For example, I'm always struggling with 饶, 绕, and 挠. In my anki cards it's no problems to know which one is which, because I'm familiar with the context, but if I see a character that has a radical+尧, I never know if this is one of the characters I know already, and if so, which. In contrast to the aforementioned 厉 and 历 this is a real problem here, because they're all pronounced differently, and I therefore can't really learn a word through reading if I don't know which of these characters is which..

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chrix
饶, 绕, and 挠.

Guess what - also quite unreliable phonetic component :wink: I think this idea to concentrate on memorising unreliable phonetic components is actually quite useful...

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phyrex

Don't be so pushy ;)

The problem is and always was that I'm not paying enough attention to the single characters, which I'm hoping to fix with what I'm doing. We'll see if this works - if it doesn't, I might try your lists :)

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valikor

I understand the method, and I think it's good. But, what about this type of situation: I am on Anki writing words at the moment and I just wrote 主意 for "pay attention to", which is wrong. It should be 注意. As far as my dictionary (QingWen for iPhone) says, 注 means annotate. Ncicku similarly (as far as I can see) has no definition that would obviously suggest it means "to pay attention to."

On the other hand, 主 means "primary", so 主意 could mean "primary idea", which is certainly something that you would have to "pay attention to".

This is why I'm wondering if it would make sense to study groups of words that use the same character. If I knew that 主 was used in the words 主题,主要,主人, and 注 were used in 注重,注意,and 注册, then it would probably be easy to remember that "register, pay attention to, emphasize" all use the same character, and have the water radical. After seeing these three words on the same flashcard a dozen times or so, I think it would be almost impossible to forget that they go together.

Just an idea. I look forward to hear about your progress with this method since (as I said) I have the same problem, and will be looking to improve that soon :)

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chrix

phyrex, I'm in the middle of developing a list yet, it's quite a long task. But it would go in the same direction what valikor proposes. Actually, this type of learning is not new, Endymion Wilkinson discusses it in section 1.3.3 in his 2000 book, "Chinese history - a manual". You might try and track down the following dictionaries, since you are in China right now: 李氏中文字典, a dictionary that orders characters mainly by phonetic components. I'd love to have it myself, if you know where to get it online, let me know :mrgreen:

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valikor

Chrix, what exactly is the list you're compiling?

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phyrex

valikor, I think your problem is not really related to my problem :) I have no problems keeping 主 and 注 apart (probably because they usually come at the beginnings of the word). What you seem to want is some mnemonic system. Something that gets from water+primary to annotate, and then another mnemonic link that'll remind you that the other words use 'annotate' and not 'primary'. I"m sure, though, you'll come up with something :) In the worst case, enough repetitions with your SRS should also take care of that..

Chrix, I'll keep my eyes open and will let you know if I find that dictionary :)

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valikor

Maybe i'm missing something :)

But it seems to me to be roughly the same. You don't mix up 主 and 注 yet you said you might mix up 饶, 绕, and 挠. The problem in either case is obviously that we don't pay *as much* attention to characters, because putting the characters in sets of 2 is enough to make them perfectly understandable, even if less attention is paid.

I think, perhaps, that my example was poorly selected, since 主意 is also a word. This was not intended... a better example would be if I wrote/read professor 教受 as, since the radical on 授 was always overlooked, as the context made it obvious.

All of the things you described (being able to recognize a word, perhaps even very very easily, yet then having no idea when you encounter the character in a new word) are issues I have.

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phyrex

yeah, maybe the example was just ill chosen :)

Anyway, I'll do that for a while and let you know how it goes.

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