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Relationships between Radicals and Components in Mandarin

When foreign students are leaning Chinese characters, they know the Chinese characters are composed of radicals and components. In the following parts, the relationships between the radicals and components in Chinese characters will be discussed. For so many years, many people are confused by these two conceptions which are called Pianpang and Bushou in Chinese respectively. When Chinese people are looking up a dictionary, they often say Pianpang and Bushou together. And some teachers say Pianpang and Bushou now and then when teaching Chinese language.

First of all, we need to figure out the reason why people always feel hard to tell radicals and components in Chinese characters. The reason is that the radicals in Chinese characters belong to a category classified in the dictionary according to the forms of the characters. As a result, many radicals are as a matter of fact the components. Let’s take the character 粮as an example, when we analyze the structure of it, we say粮is composed of the meaning element 米and the sound component 良. In this case, we say 米is the component of 粮.

However, when some foreigners who study in Chinese language school are looking for 粮in the dictionary, it says粮is belong to the characters of 米type. In this case, we say 米is the radical of 粮. The 米in粮has different names in various situations. Therefore, it is easy for the students to feel confused. Since the radicals and components are different but very confusing, the students need to know how to tell them apart.

The radicals are the category classified in the dictionary according to the structure features of the Chinese characters, which is applied to arrange and check the Chinese characters. However, when you attend to Chinese school to study Mandarin, teachers would tell you that the component are part of the characters for the purpose of analyzing the characters forms and distinguishing the meanings and pronunciation.

In addition, most of the radicals are one character and only some of them are some strokes. However, all components are characters and there is no stroke which can’t be character. Even though many radicals belong to the components, they have different connotations. On the contrary, not all components are radicals. We say Pianpang when we analyze the structure of characters while Bushou when checking characters in dictionary.

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