the last RTK post

One more piece of advice on RTK (learned, of course, by doing the opposite myself, and paying the price), and then I’m done, I promise.  (Until I think of something else.)

When making your first pass through RTK, it is not at all a problem to assign varying meanings to a single primitive.  For example, for the “person” primitive that goes on the left side of a huge number of characters, I used “Chuck Norris” (because Mr. T was a foo to try to pitty Chuck Norris), but I also used the generic “person”.  Then there was the “increase” primitive for which I also used the actual kanji’s meaning of “formerly”, and so on.  Quite a few like that.  It is not an issue when you are going from keyword to kanji, because you think of the story, and the story has the primitive names in it, so you get the right primitive even if there are more than one name for a single primitive.

However, it becomes a little bit of a snag (not huge, but annoying) when going the other way.  When trying to use the mnemonic for recognition, you look at the kanji, see the primitives, and think, “ok here there is Chuck Norris and a valley … hmmm … can’t think of the story … fail card.  Oh! “vulgar”.  Right, the story for that was “the people in the valley are so vulgar”.”  See where the problem is? had I always used the same name for that primitive, the story would have come to mind immediately.

This is of course an intermediate problem, and once the kanji is fully internalized it won’t even register as being any kind of issue at all.  But there’s no sense in making the intermediate steps harder than you need to.

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2 responses to “the last RTK post

  1. I agree. I noticed the exact same effect. The weird thing (it feels weird, anyway) is that when I start recognizing a kanji in actual sentences, I don’t feel like I am even looking at the primitives anymore.

    • Yes, I’ve noticed that too; it seems to be the same exact phenomenon as a primitive made up of sub-primitives, or a compound kanji, doesn’t remind you of the individual components anymore. The brain starts seeing things in larger and larger chunks.