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Radical Mandarin

Characters that proved the most pain for you to learn

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OneEye

Well, that's a way of notating Middle Chinese, not a reconstruction, but yeah. Baxter's 1992 Old Chinese reconstructions for the two characters are also identical, but I haven't looked up Baxter/Sagart yet.

 

But what I meant was that in Mandarin, it isn't very surprising that 'wu' is related to 'mao'. The two are well within normal variation for a 諧聲 series. More surprising is something like 各 gè being the sound component for characters pronounced with initial l- (like 路 lù), but that's explained by the fact they began with *kl- and split into two branches over time, one that retained the k- (pinyin g) and one that retained the l-.

 

Edit: I just checked, and in Cantonese they're 戊 mou6 and 茂 mau6. Sound relationships are generally much clearer in Cantonese and other southern 方言 than they are in Mandarin, which is sort of the oddball among Sinitic languages.

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Angelina

Sound relationships are generally much clearer in Cantonese and other southern 方言 than they are in Mandarin, which is sort of the oddball among Sinitic languages.

 

Yup, Mandarin stands out. It would be almost impossible to study the development of hanzi if you only study Mandarin. 

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OneEye

Well, if you're saying you need to know another 方言, it helps but certainly isn't necessary. If you're saying you need to look at Middle and Old Chinese, then I agree.

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wushucrab20

Some favorites 蕤,璀璨,齑粉,傀儡,涓涓 ,滂沱壁龛 蔷薇 迤逦湛蓝双眸徘徊, 徜徉,淼崭新

 

Tough ones for me: 奏/秦/泰,旅,旋 ,赚 ,幼 ,惠,慧拔,拨颠覆雏形 ,皱纹蔽/弊,避 耕种/栽培,祈祷,旗帜,忌讳

 

Interesting ones in Chengyu:  熙熙攘攘, 威风凛凛, 白雪皑皑面面相觑波光粼粼和睦相处

 

Relatively common yet difficult/interesting characters:  攥,篝火,邂逅 ,攫取,邋遢,镶嵌,杜撰,瑕疵, 囊,霞 ,屠戮  , 点缀,拯救,刚毅亵黩,投掷,撅蓬勃癞蛤蟆冗赘轮廓

                                                    ,

Not so common but difficult/interesting: 饕餮, 爨 蹂躏颉颃

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Angelina

If you're saying you need to look at Middle and Old Chinese, then I agree.

Yes.

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Demonic_Duck

Some favorites:  蕤,璀璨,齑粉,傀儡,涓涓 ,滂沱壁龛 蔷薇 迤逦湛蓝双眸徘徊, 徜徉,淼崭新

 

Tough ones for me: 奏/秦/泰,旅,旋 ,赚 ,幼 ,惠,慧拔,拨颠覆雏形 ,皱纹蔽/弊,避 耕种/栽培,祈祷,旗帜,忌讳

 

Interesting ones in Chengyu:  熙熙攘攘, 威风凛凛, 白雪皑皑面面相觑波光粼粼和睦相处

 

Relatively common yet difficult/interesting characters:  攥,篝火,邂逅 ,攫取,邋遢,镶嵌,杜撰,瑕疵, 囊,霞 ,屠戮  , 点缀,拯救,刚毅亵黩,投掷,撅蓬勃癞蛤蟆冗赘轮廓

                                                    ,

Not so common but difficult/interesting: 饕餮, 爨 蹂躏颉颃 , ,

OK, that's it, I'm done, no more Chinese for me, it's been a fun 3 and a half years but I might as well quit while I'm ahead.

 

:wall  :lol:

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tooironic
To add to the list I've been making:
 
戌 xū, 戍 shù, 戊 wù, 茂 mào...

戎 róng (書面語,兵器的统称) and 戒 jiè (例如戒嚴、戒指等)
 
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Tiana
OK, that's it, I'm done, no more Chinese for me, it's been a fun 3 and a half years but I might as well quit while I'm ahead.

 

Look at what threads like this can do to you!  :P

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wushucrab20

@Demonic_Duck-  Didn't mean to stress any one out lol. Honestly my writing skills are pretty awful and I have trouble remembering how to write even the most basic of characters.   加油 :)

 

I have always thought learning new characters is a challenging but enjoyable part of studying Chinese. Throughout my time studying, the more I was able to read the more I could appreciate the differences between characters and sort of the feeling that each character brings out visually, especially in context with its meaning, whether it is viewed on its own or within a sentence.

 

The ones I listed above are ones that stuck out to me as really fun to read or bump into unexpectedly, so I guess I've always sort of had this list in my head, just never had a place to share it before. Of course there are many more that I have left out that fit into all of the above categories, and even more characters that I still don't recognize.

 

So I didn't mean to be discouraging at all, I just think 汉子 are fascinating, and the majority of the ones that have shown up multiple times occasionally when I have read various types of content so I think they are useful to know.

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Auberon

 

To add to the list I've been making:
 
戌 xū, 戍 shù, 戊 wù, 茂 mào...

戎 róng (書面語,兵器的统称) and 戒 jiè (例如戒嚴、戒指等)

 

武 is also superficially similar to lots of those and is pronounced similar to 戊 (ancient phonetic, I'm guessing, but I haven't looked it up).

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xiaokaka

According to http://vividict.com/WordInfo.aspx?id=3243 武 comes from 戈 ‘dagger-axe’ + 止 ‘foot’. The bottom-right 撇 ‘丿’ has moved to the upper-left and been changed to a 横 ‘一’.

Another similar character is 戉 yuè, the original character for 鉞/钺, and phonetic in 越.

成 is also based on 戊, but not very difficult to remember since it is so common.

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tooironic

Relevant to this topic, I posted a blog entry on the Top 500 Chinese Characters (and How to Write Them) last night, users here might find it useful. I've listed every single unique component in Chinese characters and instructions on how to write them. You can use the pinyin version as a kind of silent dictation practice at home.

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stapler

I should have looked at this thread earlier. I see everyone else generally struggles with the same characters I do. But there's some great advice in here!

 

Recently 拔 and the simplified 撥 (拨) has been driving me crazy. Especially since in many fonts the simplified 撥 is identical to 拔. 哎呀! What were they thinking?!

 

Some other characters I have trouble with not because of their stroke similarity, but because of their sound and meaning: 忠 / 衷 -- 醬 / 漿 -- 盡 / 儘 -- 純 / 淳 -- 撿 / 揀. This is definitely Satan's language.

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wushucrab20

@Tooironic Thats awsome! That would be an excellent way to practice all of these challenging characters. The only problem for me is that I do most of my reading and all of my writing in simplified characters. It would be great to have a simplified character version of the same thing. Thanks for sharing and good work

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tooironic
I knew someone would say that. Just copy and paste the characters into Google Translate and voila, a simplified character version is available to you. You will still need to go through each component to check how common it is in jiantizi though, but the vast majority apply to both scripts.

 

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Demonic_Duck

The only other difference is that some of the 写字说明 would need to be changed a little (though normally it's an elementary change, e.g. explanation for “业” would no longer be “事業的業的簡體字”, it would simply be “事业的业”).

 

Regardless, looks like a very useful resource for users of either character set. Good job! Out of interest, where did you get the 写字说明 from?

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tooironic
I wrote them myself.

 

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somethingfunny

Interesting thread!  Especially everyone's different ways of remembering characters, I've basically just brute-forced all of what I know, which all started with 律 and 事 which I would write over and over again not being able to understand how anyone could remember how all those horizontal lines were supposed to be arranged.  The only problem I have with forced memorisation rather than a mnemonic or something is forgetting exactly how to write some less commonly used characters.

 

I have a co-worker (Chinese) who has asked me on more than one occasion which one of 买 and 卖 has the 十 on top, so it might be that that's a tricky one for Chinese people, although I think she asks me so that she doesn't get laughed at by all the other Chinese co-workers.

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