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Say It Right Series

Funny little memory tricks for writing characters

Posted by xiaophil December 20, 2010 in the Group General Discussion.

Sometimes I have trouble remembering how to write certain characters.  One way I solve this is to look at the character and interpret in an amusing or interesting way why the character could be constructed.  For example:

The word for cigarette is 烟.  I imagine that this character is actually two scenes from a person's life.  The left scene is composed of a person (actually the radical for fire) running around with vitality.  The second scene on the right is the result of this happy person smoking--lying in a coffin.  Okay, not so funny... but I never forget it.

杯子, I had trouble with the 'bei' part.  Then a teacher told me that the radical on the right is wood.  We all pointed out that a cup is not made of wood.  The teacher said to look at the other radical, which is 不, i.e. 'not'.  He said a cup is 'not' made of 'wood'.  

The other character I have is 要.  The bottom radical is 女, i.e. female.  The top part I think is called 'xi', whatever that means, but I imagine it is a purse.  Therefore, it is a woman who has an insatiable 'want' for money, so she perpetually holds up a purse asking for cash.  A bit sexist, I know, and I apologize, but I never forget how to write it now.

Do any of you have any funny or interesting ways to remember how to write characters?  Or if you are willing, perhaps you can come up with new ones now by taking a look at this list.

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