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Learning kanji by pictorial reasoning looks very limited to me.
To learn many of them, be prepared for massive formal association.
To give some examples, I will bother you with some kanji in mathematics.

The kanji expression for "a line" is
直線 (2 kanji symbols)
- this is total 23 strokes to represent a straight line!

The second kanji 線 means "a line" in general;
its left radical 糸 means "a string";
the right radical should give Chinese phonetic hint,
though I do not get that, recognizing only the components
白 ("white") and 水 ("water").

The kanji 直 means "straight", surely.

For a further perspective, "a curve" in kanji is 曲線,
where 曲 means "to bend" or (in music) "to compose".

"A surface" is 曲面.
"A point" is a simpler object, 点 (9 strokes).

In Japanese, most Kanji typically have two readings: the Chinese onjomi and the native kunjomi.
(Often there are several onjomi or kunjomi reading variants, or only an onjomi reading,
but for the beginning it is useful to know two most usual readings.)

For example, 直す ("to repair", or "to make it straight" if you like)
reads "na o - su", but the line 直線 reads "cho ku - sen".

Usually, words compounded of two or more kanji are read in onjomi, or at least each kanji in the same reading.
But 日曜日 ("Sunday") is an obvious exception; the reading is "ni chi - yoo - bi".
The kanji 日 ("Sun" or "day") is read first in onjomi, then in kunjomi.

In general, a kanji may have several distinct meanings and readings,
or several kanji may represent the same meaning (like both 店 and 屋 are used to name shops).
But usually things are not that terrible.

by das monde on Sun Apr 27th, 2008 at 07:43:02 AM EST
the radicals and some of the easier words are best learned this way, IMHO and when the person develops an eye for the radicals, this method can be set aside.  

of course the phonetic symbols will be a problem with this method, but the important thing I think, is to get over the initial mental block and develop an intimate relationship with this system of writing, just like in mathematics.  then, all things come easier.  

by zoe on Sun Apr 27th, 2008 at 10:42:21 AM EST
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