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Japanese Writing – Kanji Radicals

Today we ask:  What are kanji radicals?

All kanji contain a classifying radical that is a component of the kanji. Often the radical imparts meaning to the kanji – for example the radical for hand 扌 appears in both of the kanji that combine to form the word “grasp” (把持)** and the individual kanji for “throw” (投). Recognizing a kanji’s radical often helps in memorising or deciphering the meaning of the kanji.

Most kanji dictionaries classify kanji according to their radicals. Therefore recognising the radial of an unknown kanji helps with looking it up in a dictionary.

Japanese kanji has 214 different radicals (the Bushu index).

Radicals can appear almost anywhere in a kanji – at the top, on the left, on the right, at the bottom and surrounding (enclosing). For instance:

This is the for “harbour” with the radical for water highlighted in red.
 
Here is the character for “country” with the radical for “mouth, opening, sounding” highlighted in red.
 
Here is the character for “big” – it is classified as a radical itself.
 

 See here for the complete list of the 214 bushu radicals.

** – If you can not see the kanji characters in this post and you are a Windows user you may need to install the Japanese IME. Please see this page for detailed instructions.