Does the mnemonic for the bar radical refer to the old way of writing it?

The bar radical, 㦮, as seen in kanji like 残 and 浅, has the mnemonic “There are two drunkards here. That makes this radical a bar. Where else are you gonna drink?”

I assumed this was somehow referring to the fact that it’s the drunkard radical (戈) with a couple of added strokes, but, reading through the Wikipedia article on Shinjitai, I just found out that it used to be written differently: 戔. In this form, the mnemonic makes much more sense: It’s simply the drunkard radical, twice!

So that makes me wonder, does the mnemonic refer to the Kyūjitai way of writing this radical?

It seems like the underlying cause of this shouldn’t be an encoding issue, since the radical is an image in Wanikani rather than a Unicode character, but who knows.

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I mean, I don’t think they are expecting you to know that in order to make the connection, they are just stating it. But it’s possible that’s what led them to deciding to do it that way.

I’m mainly wondering if it’s a mistake that somehow crept in, since it seems like a pretty good mnemonic for the Kyūjitai radical but a sub-par mnemonic for the Shinjitai radical

The kyuujitai of jouyou kanji that use that element hasn’t been used in the lifetime of any of the staff of WaniKani.

For some reason the Japanese government didn’t update 箋 when they added it to the jouyou list in 2010, but that kanji isn’t even on WaniKani yet.

I guess I’m not sure what you mean by it possibly being a mistake. A lot of their explanations for radicals are just “this looks like [insert thing it absolutely doesn’t look like], trust us”

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Hm, I suppose that’s true

I think it is a combination of 戈 and ニ, so two drunkards.

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Oh, of course, that makes perfect sense

I don’t know if this is of interest, but the drunkard radical (戈) is actually a kanji in itself that refers to an Ancient Chinese weapon that was often used as a symbol of conflict and war, and which looks like this:


(The text is in Chinese, so don’t worry if you can’t read it. The Chinese pronunciation is indicated in pinyin. The Japanese pronunciation is か.)
Kinda looks like the kanji, no? Especially with such a long horizontal bit? You might argue that that makes the word ‘drunkard’ a subpar mnemonic, since a photo like this one from Wikipedia would make things so much more vivid:

(Only the first two on the left are 戈.)
However, well, it’s a mnemonic. Don’t worry too much about it. If it doesn’t work for you, throw it out and find something else. All that matters, ultimately, is that you remember the kanji.

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I think that is intentional, since you remember it better if you are frustrated, angry or amused by the thought that this symbol should resemble X. Or that it is impossible to memorize such a strange description.

Usually the easiest to memorize, since you had an emotional reaction to it. :wink: