水 water 수, 물
Notice that 水 has four strokes. It can be a measure word for the number of washes.
There are many compound words made with water. Check out ChinEasy for some examples. Notice how water is sometimes abbreviated as three lines like water droplets (Water 氵) . Wash (沐) is comprised of the building block for Water (水) and Tree (木).
We have also seen water before in the word Wednesday Korean: 수요일, Chinese: 水曜日.
I have been reading Tuttle’s Learning Chinese Characters book. My mind spun when it suggested learning 10 – 15 characters a day. I am learning one character a week. However, I find it’s method for learning characters interesting. Learning Chinese Characters helps with memorizing by creating stories about the characters that serve as a memory jog for their meaning and pronunciation.
To this point, I have ignored pinyin, tones, and pronunciation, for fear that I would get the Korean pronunciation and Chinese pronunciation confused. However, since Cimi plans to travel to China, she’ll need this. Therefore, I will try to be brave and learn a little, although the idea scares me.
Tuttle’s Learning Chinese Characters uses 4 characters to represent the 4 tones of Mandarin Chinese.
- Giant – First Tone – High
- Fairy – Second Tone – Rising
- Teddy – Third Tone – Falling then rising
- Dwarf – Fourth Tone – Falling
These characters are used in the stories that accompany each character. The story for water 水 shuǐ is as follows.
The water wheel has stopped and the ghostly teddy, who looks after it, is shaking his head. He can’t fix it because he dropped his shades in the mechanism (and can’t see very well without them).
shuǐ is a falling then rising tone, therefore it has teddy in the story. Shades is to remind you of the sound shuǐ. If the character is a basic building block, it has a wheel in the story.
I know this all sounds complex, but stories are easier to remember than just trying to force memorization by repetition. I can see the usefulness of 4 characters to remember tones.
At this point, I am still dissatisfied with my writing of Chinese characters. They seem lifeless and dead, instead of lively strokes. They are inconsistent, some times slanted or cramped.
I can not tell what variations are simply differences in typeface/style and what are significant differences denoting a different character. For example, Chinese characters for person 人 and enter 入 both look similar to me, and close the to Korean character ㅅ s.
I was raised to believe that Chinese was this impossible to learn language, and that does still hinder my progress in learning. Yet, there are moments when it feels worthwhile, like today when a Chinese woman saw I was studying from a text with Chinese letters, and she was impressed. I blushed, feeling like the little I know is not worthy, but I continue to be curious. Intellectual curiosity is my driving force in continuing to delve into topics from the other side of the world.