So I’ve seen posts basically stating that the real radicals for Kanji are not very helpful to figure out the meaning of the Kanji, but what about to help with readings? I know very little about them, but it is my understanding that certain radicals can help when you are trying to guess the reading of a Kanji.
I suspect this might be the case with 斤 and 近, for instance. And if this is the case, in what circumstances would you have 斤 in the Kanji but it would be read differently because a different “radical” is providing the reading? How do you identify what gives the reading?
For this kind of thing I think you should try the Keisei Semantic-Phonetic Composition script. If provides a wealth of information about how the kanji were built from components that bring reading information.
Semantic-Phonetic information is also available in the Item inspector script.
If you’re talking about “real radicals” the part that 斤 and 近 share is not a radical for both of them. In 近 the radical is the outside part, called shinnyou. They do share the 斤 element though, and that’s where 近 gets its onyomi from.
It’s worth remembering also that any radical system is arbitrarily tacked on after the fact, not something that the kanji were created with in mind. So sometimes the “real radicals” won’t make much sense either. Just something to keep in mind.
According to author TKC author Hamilton, you can learn the 150 phonetic components about as quickly as you learned hiragana and katakana. You can then use them to guess the readings of new kanji you encounter. The ebook is currently $9.30 on Amazon
This is not guaranteed to work, but in essence… it’s usually the more complicated part. Or the part that takes up more space. It’s also the ‘less common’ part in the sense that you more rarely see it across kanji in the exactly the same location, whereas the bits that function as radicals usually (but not always) appear in exactly the same location and way in every kanji where they’re the radical.
Yeah, actually, ‘the part that takes up more space’ is probably the best way to go about it. It’s far more common for these components to be on the right side of the kanji, but sometimes they’re on the left, and in kanji that are a vertical stack of fairly symmetrical components, it’s usually what’s on the bottom, but again, not always. One last thing to keep in mind is that not all kanji are pictophonetic: it’s probably the most common kanji construction method, but there are another five. I doubt that the six methods are mutually exclusive, but the point is that not all kanji have obvious readings, so you can’t rely on this for everything.
(Source: I speak Chinese, and I’ve found that Japanese is even more consistent about readings when it comes to on’yomi for pictophonetic characters, which is a relief.)
@VegasVed: Oh yeah, one more thing. About ‘real radicals’… see, there’s definitely a ton of names that are common among native speakers, especially teachers and other professionals in the fields of kanji teaching and kanji history – Japanese has one set, and Chinese has another, and not all of them overlap, clearly – but I don’t think there’s an official list even if I wouldn’t be surprised if, say, the Chinese (or Japanese!) ministry of education has made some effort to standardise things. However, part of the problem is that a lot of modern radicals don’t reflect what kanji looked like initially, because there’s been a lot of morphing over time. In some cases, the radicals we see today make no sense, but the radicals that were used initially (in Oracle Bone Script) make perfect sense, but only because they’re completely different from what we see now, because native speakers got confused along the way and adopted new ways of writing the kanji. Kanji are 5000 years old, and a lot has happened in that time.
I think you mean there’s no official list of phonetic components? Apart from the Kanji Code’s one and a few others floating around cyber space…
Google Leo Boiko, Hiroko Townsend…
There definitely IS an official list of radicals. Every Japanese dictionary lists it at the front. When you do the 漢字検定 (kanji kentei - an official kanji test that native Japanese speakers take in school or just to challenge themselves as adults) one of the first things you have to do is learn them.