Kanji study proceeds apace. (I’ve always wanted to say “apace.”) I’m about 10% of the way through Remembering the Kanji, the book that helps you learn Chinese characters by weaving their components into goofy stories.

For the first few hundred kanji, the author, James Heisig, provides you with a suggested story. For example, the kanji for “spring,” 泉, is a combination of “white” (on top) and “water” (on the bottom). So you imagine a bubbling mountain spring, with the top of the water white and frothy.

That’s an easy one. They get much, much harder as you go along, and at some point Heisig stops spoon-feeding you stories, and there’s only one set of footprints on the beach, and that’s you on your own, sucker. You have to write your own stories.

I haven’t gotten that far yet in the book. But the person who previously owned my used copy of Remembering the Kanji did, and they left a note sheet in the book. It included these gems:

撃 (beat): After the perp dented the man’s car with a missile, the man beat him with his bare hands.

怪 (suspicious): Data finds it suspicious that, after all his unitards were sewn shut, he found a spool in Riker’s pocket.

隻 (vessels): The shipper’s vessels at the marina are novelty boats shaped like the skipper himself, but with turkey heads. (Business is not good.)

Whoever you are, thanks for being awesome, and I hope you learned all the kanji.

4 thoughts on “Perpetrating

  1. dfan

    You’re already past where I got to. But note that the Reviewing the Kanji site that you mentioned last time allows people to publish their own stories for kanji (and vote on them), so you can easily retroactively crowd-source your mnemonics.

  2. nomitai

    I LOVE the explanation for “beat” (which is pronounced “utsu,” but I cheated – I had to look it up). Thanks for the mnemonic. I have to admit I don’t get the other two (although I’m a big “Trek” fan).

  3. mamster Post author

    Good point, dfan. I’ve already been occasionally borrowing a story when I find Heisig’s story unhelpful.

    nomitai, it might help if I spell “sewn” correctly. I’m not sure what the elements the story refers to are, because I haven’t gotten to them. One of the controversial things about Heisig is that he invents his own meanings for primitives–like, 九 represents “baseball team,” which is probably not what the creators of oracle bone script had in mind. The idea is to give you strong images to build stories around; as long as you remember the meaning of the character as a whole, who cares if you give the parts goofy names?

Comments are closed.