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why are some elements not primitives?

#1
I have noticed that sometimes groups of elements are given a primitive name (and seem not to be used again - though I am only at number 900) and some are not given any primitive name but seem to be used several times. The benefit of giving a group of elements a primitive name is it points out that they are the same elements in the same order, which helps with possible confusion later on. Sometimes making stories can be difficult and some elements are easy to confuse with one another but I find myself looking back in the book sure that an certain arrangement of elements has been used before. Such as the flower and vessels is used in safeguard, seize and harvest. But its hard to know ahead if you can group these and where they might come up again to make a new primitive. These seems to have happened several times, and I was wondering if there was a reason why?

thanks
amber
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#2
Heisig is sticking pretty true to the real primitives. Flower is a proper primitive, vessel is a proper kanji. Flower vessel however is not a proper kanji nor a proper primitive, it's a just a combination which happens to occur in several kanji. (This isn't 100% true in all cases though, there are some combinations of primitives which he doesn't give a name which turns out to be real kanji in RtK3.)
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#3
have you finished RTK3? They assign meanings to some elements that weren't given one in RTK1.
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#4
I am at 900 on RTK1 (there should be a way on the site to have this info next to my name/thumbnail don't you think?). Weird then that later on some get meanings. It would be useful to have a list of element groups that make non-primitives. I just realised that smash and frame have nine/round and ten/needle on the right. When you study these things apart you sometimes don't see the similarity between further apart kanji. And then it does also help as its another link in the brain.
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#5
Tobberoth Wrote:Heisig is sticking pretty true to the real primitives.
I hardly doubt that
the best example is 'graveyard' which means absolutely nothing to do with a graveyard nor is it a radical in any way or form. He does so with many other characters too.

The whole reason he names them primitives is because they differ from radicals and so he picks and chooses what he likes.
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#6
liosama Wrote:
Tobberoth Wrote:Heisig is sticking pretty true to the real primitives.
I hardly doubt that
the best example is 'graveyard' which means absolutely nothing to do with a graveyard nor is it a radical in any way or form. He does so with many other characters too.

The whole reason he names them primitives is because they differ from radicals and so he picks and chooses what he likes.
He chose graveyard because shalt莫2105 doesn't make for good stories (it is also in grave墓231). I used the "Thou shalt not..." from the Ten Commandments as the primitive.
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#7
It's just a tradeoff, isn't it? Creating a primitive name for a group of elements might make it easier to remember kanji it turns up in, but it has a cost in remembering the primitive itself. (I know Heisig says that memorising primitives isn't necessary, but this is only true because he mostly only creates them when they turn up a lot and you get a lot of automatic reinforcement of them.) So if something only turns up in three kanji it's a bit borderline whether it's worthwhile.

Glancing through the RTK primitive index, it looks like Heisig's primitives are generally either (a) odd combinations of strokes not trivially decomposable into sub-parts (eg 'pegasus') or (b) groupings of three or more primitives which turn up as a unit in a lot of kanji (eg 'double back').
I think there are perhaps 10 out of 229 primitives which don't fall into either category (ie two-element groups).
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#8
Below is a list I made of primitive combinations which are not given a name in RTK (or sometimes combinations which are named later than when they first appear). It's not completely comprehensive, but may be useful to some people. It should help you decide whether any particular combination is worth naming. (I've added a few suggestions from myself and other members.)

Also, here are a couple of other lists that may be useful:
1) Primitive combinations that are later named as kanji in their own right.
2) Primitives vs. Radicals. Heisig's names for the traditional 214 radicals.


The order in the list below is: number where first appears ..primitives,,numbers & other kanji where it appears. (Also, here is this data as a spreadsheet)

148 ..old,moon,,148:湖;2470:胡;2562:瑚;2650:糊;2749:醐;
157 ..cliff,ivy,,157:涯;2227:崖;
215 ..goods,wood,,215:燥;671:操;1369:繰;2035:藻;(suggestion: “furniture”. Furniture is a common type of wooden goods)
228 ..generation,tree,,228:葉;521:蝶;2158:喋;2726:諜;2926:牒;(suggestion: “Tarzan”.Tarzan lives with several generations of his family at the top of a tree)
280 ..ten,fishhook,,280:迅;2713:訊;
323 ..crown,human legs,,323:売;348:読;1327:探;1328:深;1345:続;2297:涜;2920:亮;(Note: sometimes RTK calls this “paper punch” I prefer “Miss World”)
357 ..ten,fiesta,,357:賊;2657:絨;
400 ..ten,net(horizontal eye),,400:壊;827:聴;828:懐;885:徳;
400 ..ten,net(horizontal eye),clothing,,400:壊;828:懐;
410 ..sun,ray,,410:幌;2287:滉;2446:晃;(RTK3 names this “limpid”)
514 ..cliff,ten thousand,,514:栃;866:励;2595:砺;2697:蛎;
519 ..house,spoon,,519:蛇;2674:舵;2718:詑;2955:陀;
563 ..footprint,spoon,,563:雌;1375:紫;2043:此;2044:柴;2045:砦;2046:些;2047:髭;(RTK3 names this “this here”)
576 ..feathers,turkey,,576:曜;577:濯;1285:躍;2272:擢;2534:燿;2880:耀;(suggestion: “futon”. Your futon is made from turkey feathers.)
587 ..top hat,times,,587:壇;2138:凛;2525:檀;
613 ..craft,mediocre,,613:恐;950:築;2637:筑;
629 ..left,part of body,,629:惰;2531:楕;
674 ..ivy,wand,,674:掛;2698:罫;notRTK:卦;(suggested keyword for 卦: “divination”)
700 ..flowers,vessels,,700:護;701:獲;908:穫;
709 ..car,missile,,709:撃;2655:繋;(suggestion: “tank”. A tank is like a car with missiles)
733 ..vulture,tree,,733:採;734:菜;1714:彩;2090:采;(RTK3 names this “grab”)
743 ..by one’s side,elbow,,743:雄;2212:宏;2469:肱;2662:紘;
760 ..bring up,taskmaster,,760:撤;886:徹;notRTK:轍;
763 ..infant,flood,,763:硫;764:流;2557:琉;2922:疏;
827 ..needle,net(horizontal eye),heart,,827:聴;885:徳;
835 ..net (horizontal eye),bound up,insect,,835:濁;2539:燭;
852 ..slave,crotch,,852:賢;853:堅;1374:緊;2453:腎;2491:樫;2618:竪;2822:鰹;
876 ..nightbreak,glue,,876:得;2592:碍;
905 ..reclining,small,,905:称;2241:弥;2601:祢;(suggestion “hammock”, i.e. something small you can recline in)
923 ..cave,soil,,923:粧;2238:庄;(RTK3 names this “shire”)
927 ..bound up,rice,,927:菊;2753:麹;2787:鞠;
929 ..rice,woman,,929:数;930:楼;2221:屡;2403:薮;
932 ..umbrella,rice grains,,932:漆;2461:膝;2605:黍;2935:黎;
941 ..part of the body,power,,941:筋;2463:肋;(RTK3 names this “rib”)
946 ..bamboo,eye,,946:算;2641:纂;
958 ..person,walking stick,,958:悠;1640:候;1722:修;2130:脩;2639:篠;
1015 ..vase,crown,compass,,1015:傍;notRTK:謗;
1044 ..ceiling,mouth,hood,human legs,spike,,1044:融;1312:隔;(suggestion: “tripod” (etymological))
1085 ..door,taskmaster,,1085:啓;2893:肇;(suggestion: “bouncer”)
1120 ..monkey,crotch,,1120:捜;2577:痩;
1134 ..car,axe,,1134:暫;1135:漸;2092:斬;(RTK3 names this “chop off”)
1144 ..broom,rice grains,,1144:録;1371:緑;2145:剥;2602:禄;
1147 ..vulture,broom,heart,,1147:穏;1313:隠;
1148 ..broom,crown,crotch,,1148:侵;1149:浸;1150:寝;(suggestion: “French maid”)
1151 ..broom,apron,,1151:婦;1152:掃;1230:帰;
1167 ..mountain,comb,,1167:端;2563:瑞;
1209 ..moon,quarter,,1209:勝;1210:藤;1211:謄;1989:騰;
1244 ..ceiling,snare,,1244:誇;2526:樗;2626:袴;2744:跨;2795:顎;2824:鰐;notRTK:愕;
1244 ..St Bernard,ceiling,snare,,1244:誇;2626:袴;2744:跨;
1290 ..possess,road,,1290:髄;1298:随;
1311 ..rice,sunglasses,,1311:隣;2051:憐;2052:燐;2053:麟;2054:鱗;(RTK3 names this “shoeshiner”)
1315 ..bound up,olden times,,1315:陥;2546:焔;
1365 ..ten,crown,,1365:索;2858:勃;2883:嚢;
1366 ..public,heart,,1366:総;2677:聡;
1399 ..stamp,crotch,,1399:服;1507:報;(suggestion: “underpants”)
1408 ..chop-seal,utilize,,1408:通;1409:踊;1690:痛;2530:桶;(suggestion: “pogo stick”. A chop-seal is long and thin with a rubbery bit at the end. If it were big enough you could utilize it as a pogo stick.)
1423 ..receipt,dagger,,1423:留;1424:貿;2143:劉;2324:溜;
1463 ..net(horizontal eye),silver,glue,,1463:爵:2856:欝;
1493 ..sheaf,tree,,1493:殺;2144:刹;
1548 ..growing up,dagger,,1548:潔;1549:契;1550:喫;
1562 ..walking legs,bushes,,1562:峰;1563:縫;2375:蓬;2417:逢;2687:蜂;2768:鋒;2977:峯;
1723 ..umbrella,shape,,1723:珍;1724:診;2291:滲;2574:疹;2720:謬;(suggestion: “parasol”. It’s the same shape as an umbrella)
1804 ..two snakes,strung together,,1804:選;2253:撰;2861:巽;(RTK3 names this “southeast”)
1820 ..meeting,scrapbook,,1820:論;1821:倫;1822:輪;2656:綸;
1857 ..two drops,person,rag,,1857:衆;2939:聚;
1882 ..(backward) box of staples,(backward) box,crotch,,1882:暇;2689:蝦;2779:霞;
1885 ..reclining,floor,fishhook,,1885:気;1886:汽;
1888 ..crown,human legs(variation),,1888:沈;2472:枕;2679:耽;(suggestion: “garter”. A crown worn as a garter on one leg only)
1940 ..owl,wind,cornstalk,,1940:猟;2688:蝋;
1985 ..crotch,insect,,1985:騒;2252:掻;2681:蚤;
2150 ..person,turkey,,2150:雁;2151:贋;2237:鷹;
2240 ..three floors,two rice fields,,2240:彊;2509:橿;
2263 ..mouth,ear,,2263:揖;2392:葺;2732:輯;
2425 ..animal horns,whisky bottle,,2425:鄭;2493:楢;2906:酋;(RTK3 names this “chieftain”)
2543 ..wand,evening,crotch,,2543:燦;2798:餐;
2795 ..two mouths,ceiling,snare,,2795:顎;2824:鰐;notRTK:愕;(keyword for 愕 “startled”. 驚愕=きょうがく=astonishment)
2989 ..ceiling,flood,craft,,2989:脛;2990:勁;

Edit: added no. 700, 1148, 1399. Changed 1285 to 576.
Edited: 2012-07-07, 2:22 am
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#9
bodhisamaya Wrote:
liosama Wrote:
Tobberoth Wrote:Heisig is sticking pretty true to the real primitives.
I hardly doubt that
the best example is 'graveyard' which means absolutely nothing to do with a graveyard nor is it a radical in any way or form. He does so with many other characters too.

The whole reason he names them primitives is because they differ from radicals and so he picks and chooses what he likes.
He chose graveyard because shalt莫2105 doesn't make for good stories (it is also in grave墓231). I used the "Thou shalt not..." from the Ten Commandments as the primitive.
sorry i meant *highly doubt that,
Yes but im telling Tobberoth that a radical != a primitive, and this is the very reason he calls them primitives instead of radicals because he makes up lots of extra primitives to help out with learning characters which is why he gives graveyard the title graveyard, and why we seek out to find as many primitives as possible to help us out.
And i'm saying that graveyard is not a radical. "real primitives" if by "real primitives" he means 'radicals'
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#10
great list Katsuo thanks for that!

Shame it wasn't one of the index's in the back of the book.
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#11
liosama Wrote:
bodhisamaya Wrote:
liosama Wrote:I hardly doubt that
the best example is 'graveyard' which means absolutely nothing to do with a graveyard nor is it a radical in any way or form. He does so with many other characters too.

The whole reason he names them primitives is because they differ from radicals and so he picks and chooses what he likes.
He chose graveyard because shalt莫2105 doesn't make for good stories (it is also in grave墓231). I used the "Thou shalt not..." from the Ten Commandments as the primitive.
sorry i meant *highly doubt that,
Yes but im telling Tobberoth that a radical != a primitive, and this is the very reason he calls them primitives instead of radicals because he makes up lots of extra primitives to help out with learning characters which is why he gives graveyard the title graveyard, and why we seek out to find as many primitives as possible to help us out.
And i'm saying that graveyard is not a radical. "real primitives" if by "real primitives" he means 'radicals'
I don't mean radicals, I mean bushu. And while it's true that graveyard isn't a bushu and has no real connection to graveyard (it does have a lone kanji though which isn't part of RtK), it's still true that he very rarely gives a name to something which isn't a real bushu OR a real kanji. I can't think of a single one. Just because the KEYWORD of that primitive isn't set to the actual meaning (which it isn't in tons of the real kanji either) doesn't make my statement wrong. It's the same with the "finger" radical which is really a hand. He changes the words around, but unless a jumble of primitives is a bushu or a real kanji, he rarely names them anything.

Which is also why I can't write the "flowery vessel" as a lone kanji. It isn't one.
Edited: 2009-01-12, 6:34 am
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#12
What about "pegasus", "turkey coop", "birdhouse"? But I agree that it's rare. I was amused to learn that "sunglasses" is really "dancing legs", and relieved not to have to learn another damn legs primitive.
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#13
joxn_costello Wrote:What about "pegasus", "turkey coop", "birdhouse"? But I agree that it's rare. I was amused to learn that "sunglasses" is really "dancing legs", and relieved not to have to learn another damn legs primitive.
I assume as a radical dancing legs gets its name from its placement in 舞dance1774. It also stands alone as a kanji: 舛 SEN, somu(ku), tag(u)... go against, be contrary to

I'm not sure why leg足1279 wasn't just called foot as that is another meaning.
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#14
The same reason that he gives the primitives meanings like "cabbage," basically the idea behind the book is brilliant, but IMO the execution is flawed.

I think by the time I got to about the middle of the book I almost completely gave up on Heisig's primitive names and made up all of my own. A lot of other people seem to do this, mainly using people as the primitives.

Sometimes Heisig tells you to group things, sometimes he doesn't, sometimes he groups things (he suggests calling 九 and 十 together cricket, but then never mentions this again) and then never refers to them again. Then when he discusses Shellfish he never calls it "money" explicitly, but almost always this is the best meaning of the primitive, however by about halfway through the book he starts calling it "money."

Since the purpose of the book is not to get some kind of deep understanding of the etymology of the kanji, but just to recognise and maybe write them, I think Heisig needs a total rewrite. But luckily we have this site to fill in the gaps Heisig has left.
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#15
bandwidthjunkie Wrote:The same reason that he gives the primitives meanings like "cabbage," basically the idea behind the book is brilliant, but IMO the execution is flawed.

I think by the time I got to about the middle of the book I almost completely gave up on Heisig's primitive names and made up all of my own. A lot of other people seem to do this, mainly using people as the primitives.

Sometimes Heisig tells you to group things, sometimes he doesn't, sometimes he groups things (he suggests calling 九 and 十 together cricket, but then never mentions this again) and then never refers to them again. Then when he discusses Shellfish he never calls it "money" explicitly, but almost always this is the best meaning of the primitive, however by about halfway through the book he starts calling it "money."

Since the purpose of the book is not to get some kind of deep understanding of the etymology of the kanji, but just to recognise and maybe write them, I think Heisig needs a total rewrite. But luckily we have this site to fill in the gaps Heisig has left.
Heisig's book does contain inconsistencies here and there but it is designed with personal evolution in mind.

And he explains things like shellfish being used as an ancient form of currency explicitly such that the transition from shellfish to money later in the text is very natural.
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#16
FutureBlues Wrote:
bandwidthjunkie Wrote:The same reason that he gives the primitives meanings like "cabbage," basically the idea behind the book is brilliant, but IMO the execution is flawed.

I think by the time I got to about the middle of the book I almost completely gave up on Heisig's primitive names and made up all of my own. A lot of other people seem to do this, mainly using people as the primitives.

Sometimes Heisig tells you to group things, sometimes he doesn't, sometimes he groups things (he suggests calling 九 and 十 together cricket, but then never mentions this again) and then never refers to them again. Then when he discusses Shellfish he never calls it "money" explicitly, but almost always this is the best meaning of the primitive, however by about halfway through the book he starts calling it "money."

Since the purpose of the book is not to get some kind of deep understanding of the etymology of the kanji, but just to recognise and maybe write them, I think Heisig needs a total rewrite. But luckily we have this site to fill in the gaps Heisig has left.
Heisig's book does contain inconsistencies here and there but it is designed with personal evolution in mind.

And he explains things like shellfish being used as an ancient form of currency explicitly such that the transition from shellfish to money later in the text is very natural.
I agree and disagree. I'm not knocking RtK, I think it's a great book, but I just don't think that it is particularly well written. And although no doubt it is designed with personal evolution in mind, this seems to be stifled somewhat by Heisig's overly ridgid directions and instructions. Anyway, all of that has been debated to death, and Heisig's book was no doubt a great breakthrough, but I genuinely believe that it needs to be rewritten and refined, and probably not by Heisig.

Throughout the whole of academia breakthroughs are made and published and then over a period of time other people come along and add to and polish the findings; I think RtK would benefit from such a process.
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#17
I thought a new edition came out not long ago?

I just came across the primitive mist (35p) which is not in your list so not used elsewhere? I presume its given because its a radical?
Edited: 2009-01-13, 7:32 am
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#18
Thanks to Katsuo for the spreadsheet.

I have rejiggered it to be in the order most useful for people working through the books. Each line contains with the earlier kanji that you want to learn, followed by the later kanji which can be used as a primitive and then all the kanji which use that primitive. It is sorted by the kanji to be learned.

http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=r...R4t-n44ltg
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#19
It's a shame this thread would fall so far without any acknowledgement to Katsuo and fergal - that's a great list and even though I've almost gone through all the kanji already I'm sure it'll come in useful for further learning. Many thanks!

As for the earlier discussion about doing a total rewrite - that's already happened with the Movie Method IMO (not that I'm using it but I probably would have if I'd known about it from the start). But if a total remake of the book is to be done, they better call Katsuo first :p
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#20
Think how easy these things are with computers and people sharing files/info. Doing these things by hand alone must have been a pain.

There should be a RTK wiki page like with some of the games I play. So can be added and changed by people rather than one or two people getting lumped with the job. Great work though. Thanks!
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#21
I was looking for *French maid* in Google and I was lucky this thread popped up !


Admin, Mods, anyone, PLEASE sticky this thread ! It's REALLY useful !

Thanks fergal and Katsu ^^
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#22
I'm glad this thread has been useful for you. It's kind of stickied already in that you can find it by going:

Index tab (top left of this page) => The Japanese Language => Kanji lists, Joyo, non-joyo etc. (Sticky topic) => Reply #2 => 2nd link.

Though I guess it might be a bit hard to find if you don't know where to look.
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#23
I do get lost when I look for something in Forum, so I just use Google Smile
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