#1
Just started RtK, and I'm confused; are primitives actually a part of Japanese or are they just made up to help us learn Japanese?
I suppose my confusion stems from the fact that writing the meaning of primitive is a whole other kanji.  Like, there's the primitive that means "wind", but if you want to write "wind", you write the kanji for it.

Please forgive my incredibly noob question.
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#2
Some primitives are a part of Japanese and are called "(traditional) radicals", while other are made-up by Heisig for the sake of learning kanji.
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#3
Ah, I see.  I'm only on lesson 4, do you know if Heisig specifies which are which?
Thanks for your response!
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#4
(2017-01-19, 5:01 pm)beantrouser Wrote: Ah, I see.  I'm only on lesson 4, do you know if Heisig specifies which are which?
Thanks for your response!

Not consistently. Sometimes he mentions that a certain primitive is  also a radical, in some of the cases when the traditional radical name and the keyword meaning are the same. Other times he just doesn't say.

It doesn't take long to learn the traditional radicals, but it's of dubious usefulness nowadays. It was essentially for old paper dictionaries and it was really useful on my electronic dictionary which let you use radical names as a list of components and give you a list of characters based on that. These days if you need to look up a character it's just much easier to type the pronunciation (if known) or use a handwriting input (if the pronunciation isn't known). Other than a love of trivia I'm not sure there's a reason to know them now.
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#5
It's also worth noting that some of the apparently bizarre names Heisig gives radicals stem directly from the traditional radical name, while others, as already said, he made up because they happen to be frequently recurring patterns not already established as radicals.

Japanese and Chinese scholars of kanji have always recognized that there are many repeating patterns, including many beyond the traditional 214 radicals. If you listen to a Japanese person trying to explain how to spell their name in kanji, you will hear them refer to these patterns colloquially ("it's like "same" with tree on the left, followed by..."). I think the main driving force behind the development of the list of traditional radicals was to come up with a limited set of patterns that could be found in every kanji, and use those patterns for dictionary purposes, but I don't know too much about the history.

Nice site describing the radicals here:

https://kanjialive.com/214-traditional-kanji-radicals/

As SomeCallMeChris says, these days you only need to care about the traditional radicals if you like trivia. Me, I like trivia. Heisig primitives, on the other hand, are essential if you like learning kanji the Heisig way. Good luck!
Edited: 2017-01-19, 5:22 pm
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#6
(2017-01-19, 5:01 pm)beantrouser Wrote: Ah, I see.  I'm only on lesson 4, do you know if Heisig specifies which are which?
Thanks for your response!

I made a list a comparing the two.
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#7
Fantastic, thanks for the link! I was hoping there was something like this out there.

That thread is a great read, too.
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#8
Nice list. This forum really goes back a ways. It's cool to have some old timers still around!
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#9
SomeCallMeChris: Using a 'search by radical' function on sites like Jisho is easier than writing them, in my experience. I can look up an unknown kanji in seconds. I don't think I'd be able to do this if not for RTK.
Edited: 2017-01-21, 10:51 pm
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#10
(2017-01-21, 10:48 pm)TurtleBear Wrote: Using a 'search by radical' function on sites like Jisho is easier than writing them, in my experience. I can look up an unknown kanji in seconds.

I find that's true when the alternative is drawing the character with a mouse. But when the alternative is writing with your finger, I find that faster.
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#11
(2017-01-21, 10:48 pm)TurtleBear Wrote: SomeCallMeChris: Using a 'search by radical' function on sites like Jisho is easier than writing them, in my experience. I can look up an unknown kanji in seconds. I don't think I'd be able to do this if not for RTK.

While that may be true, that's a click-on-the-image function, not a type-the-name function so even so you don't need to learn the radicals to use that feature, you just need to quickly recognize components. Citing RTK kind of emphasizes that point - learning RTK components doesn't involve learning traditional radical names.

Also I think if you write at all, over time you'll find it easier to write the character than to search by radical with jisho's service or similar dictionary apps. It's possible that if you use Jisho's search-by-radical feature extensively that might not be true, but I think most people tend to rely on pronunciation more and more as they improve and the less you use search-by-radical or similar features the slower you are to immediately click in the right spot... if you're only occasionally searching that way, you have to actually look at and identify the components, while if you use it constantly you start to rely on muscle memory to click the right spot before you've even really seen what's there.

At least that's my experience. I'm significantly better at Japanese and significantly slower on using click-the-component interfaces. On the other hand, I hardly ever need to draw or click anymore, even if I don't know the pronunciation of a given word I know pronunciations that generate the needed characters, so if I'm a little slower when I do need an interface like that, it's not really a big deal.
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