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How to Understand Chinese Radical without Indicating Sound and Meaning?

In Chinese language, there are some radicals do not indicate pronunciation and meaning. As a matter of fact, they did indicate meaning and sound, but later they fail to indicate meaning and pronunciation because the characters’ meanings are extended and the pronunciation is changed. For the radicals of such type, the students volunteer in China can find the evolution track and the relationships between then as long as you do some exploration and research.

Let’s take 演as an example. The original meaning of 演was the flowing water but the present meaning is 表演(perform). After the original meaning of 演disappears, the element 氵no longer has relation with the present meaning. If you do some research, you will know the meanings of 演change from 水长流 to 润湿 or 滋润 and to 蔓延 or 扩展. When being used in abstract meaning, 蔓延 or 扩展 means 发挥 thus changing into 表演because performance is the process of explaining stories.

In addition, even though some words in modern Chinese language have no relationships between the ordinary meanings and the radicals, the original meanings preserved in the set phrases and two-syllable written language have relationship with the radicals. After the students learn the character 造when they study in online Chinese Lessons, they know the basic meaning is 做 or 制作 (make) which has no relation with 辶. But in the set phrase 登峰造极and written language 造访, the meaning of 到or前往preserved has relation with辶.

Therefore, when teachers are explaining the relationships between the meanings and radicals, especially the characters that have no relation between the common meaning and the element, they need to pay attention to make use of the set phrase or written language to help students understand the relationships.

Knowing clearly the evolution process of the radicals that do not indicate the meanings and sounds is helpful for students to know clearly their relationships. If the teachers pay enough attention to this point, they can make full use of the functions to explain the sounds and meanings of Chinese characters, thus providing help to Chinese learning. Teachers can use both the meaning and sound indicating functions and also the radicals that do not indicate meanings and sounds. 

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