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Lesson Transcript


Hi, everybody! Olivia here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Cantonese questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is: What are radicals?
Chinese radicals are a rough equivalent of an alphabet and the building blocks of the Chinese characters.
Often, the radical itself can be a character on its own. Instead of learning individual Chinese characters one at a time, we essentially learn the building blocks instead. You only have to learn a few radicals to be able to read some of the most common Chinese characters out there.
Let's get into more details.
部首 (bou6 sau2), which are the “radicals,” are used to index the characters for Chinese dictionaries and are often reflecting some common semantic or phonetic characteristic. Knowing common radicals can help you greatly with learning new Chinese characters.
So, how can radicals help you in learning Chinese characters?
Because radicals are the basic component of Chinese characters and each radical has its semantic or phonetic characteristic. Learning the characteristics of radicals helps you to remember how to write and understand the meaning of Chinese characters.
Let’s see an example. Verbs that have the "foot" radical 足(zuk1) are related to foot actions. For example, 跑(pau5) "to run," 踢(tek3) "to kick," 踩(caai2) "to step on," 蹲 (deon1) "to squat." Therefore, it's very common to find the "foot" radical 足(zuk1) on the left side of verbs that articulate actions done by the foot or leg.


How was it? Pretty interesting right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
"See you next time!", 下次見! (haa6 ci3 gin3!)