How to learn Chinese characters and how to remember them?

1. It is essential to know their origin, their evolution and to understand the network of characters. Let’s take a simple example with 目, mù. The first graph evoked an eye:

eye in Chinese character

The first sense was of course: eye. 

2. 目 is found in many characters, which remain in the same semantic field. Understanding their association allows to better retain the composition. For example :
看 kàn: see. A hand (who was protecting himself from the sun?) at the top and the eye at the bottom:

眉 méi: eyebrows. Eyebrows and an eye :Chinese old graph for eyebrow

媚 mèi, flatter, = 女+眉 woman + eyebrow
Originally 媚, meant “raising eyebrows for a woman”. By extension, it gave “to please, to flatter someone”.
盲 máng, blind= 亡, wáng, die + 目, eye.

3. Visualize the network. In order to better “print” the character map, you can draw your own map as you learn:

how to remember chinese character

Note: 目 has kept the meaning of eye for more than a millennium. From the end of the Han era, 眼 took its place as eye, then the trend to pollysyllabic words over the centuries gave two syllables for eye: 眼睛 yǎn jing.

All characters related to the eye can be found here.

See also another approach How to learn Chinese characters?

Articles on other families of characters :

Radical arrow 矢

Radical child 子

Radical eye 目

Radical heart 心

Radical illness 疒

Radical knife 刀,刂

Radical 巳

Character 青

12 November 2020

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