This is the radical (also sometimes called the key), which indicated the general nature of the kanji character. The radical combines one or more elements (the radical is often itself kanji, but sometimes is not), and gives more specific information, either semantically or phonetically. In other words, the radical is the part of the kanji that speaks to you when you look at it, that hints you on its origin, group, meaning or prononciation. There are about 200 of these radicals, which are widely used in dictionaries, and teaching tools.
The radical of a kanji is useful because it helps remembering the meaning of the kanji. For example, the radical of the kanji to drink (), is , which itself means to eat. When you learn , you visualize the part, to help remember that this kanji has something to do with eating something, ot puting something into your body.
However, there is no official standard for radicals. If you take a kanji dictionary following the Japanese Ministry of Education recommendations, you will see many differences with the radicals listed in kanji study books written by and for foreigners. For example, which means a year, has the radical in many dictionaries, but the radical on Japanese reference materials. Which one is better, which one works better... I don't know.
KanjiLearn uses the radical set the most popular among foreigner.
|Upon clicking (left or default mouse button) on the radical
of a kanji card, a context sensitive popup menu displays as show on the right. This popup
menu lists all kanji cards with the same radical, including kanji character, kanji grade
and kanji meaning. Selecting one of these listed kanji cards will switch KanjiLearn to
that kanji card (and dismiss the popup menu).
This context sensitive popup menu can get really big since there are about 200 radicals for about 2000 kanji. When the popup menu window is bigger than your screen size, you can scroll down using your browser's scroll bars.
Note that this context sensitive popup menu is persistent and will close only when clicking on the Close menu item.
This page was last updated by JP on 11/30/98.