How to view the components of components of characters

I often use the info panel for character cards in the app to look at the definition of components. This is a great feature, but I can’t find an easy way to see the basic components of more complex characters.

For instance, in the 商店 card, I can tap on 商 and easily see the definition of that character and its components. It lists 亠, 丷 and 冏. When I try to proceed and tap on 冏, it only copies that character to the clipboard instead of giving me its information page and break it down further into components such as 㕣.

The mnemonics sometimes refer to the basic components, and I think knowing them is often helpful when memorizing characters.

The only way I found is to edit the section and add another card for 冏. After that, I often have to “learn” it before the components are loaded and I can view them in the info panel. Is there an easier way to do this?

You have to be careful with the “tiny” components inside a character…they are often “misleading”.

For example, if I look at the Outlier dictionary etymology (scholarly research dictionary…paid add-on inside Pleco) of the character 商, it indicates that this character doesn’t “really” decompose to sub-components, except for 口. It says:

Ancient form:

商 shāng was originally comprised of 辛 xīn “a chisel-like tool or torture implement” and 丙 bǐng “the base or foundation of a tool or implement.” The original meaning probably had to do with measurement. 口 kǒu “mouth” was added later as a distinguishing mark to indicate the name of an ancient kingdom.
[Reference, p. 652;
Reference, p. 120]

So, it depends on if you want the “historical” breakdown based on etymology, or if you want something just to help you remember “marks” you write on the page, but which are based on an artificial breakdown. Both can be useful, depending on your goal…just don’t be confused by thinking they are equivalent in historical accuracy.

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Thanks for the warning.

Well in fact I mostly look at the tiny components just to help remember how to write the characters. Maybe 㕣 in 商店 was not the best example for this either. Maybe a better and simpler example would be 按. Skritter shows 安 as a component. It also lists 女 as a component of 安, but similar to how I described above, it is not so easy to get from 按 to 女.

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Hi there @Chris!

I agree with @Apomixis that you need to be very careful with “subcomponents” of a character component.

However, in my recent relearning of Chinese (after mostly forgetting it during a neglectful decade or two,) I decided to do it “my” way this time and learn all the tinier components-within-components and thoroughly exploit the mnemonic system Skritter makes possible.

So for my new learning system, every time I created a word list, I created a companion components list for it, and learned them before the word list.

I don’t recommend this system for anyone in normal classroom learning - the pace would really slow down your ability to learn the required list.

And I have certainly since abandoned some of the components that I learned, as they are just too rare to be useful.

But I was willing to slow it down this time in self-teaching in order to learn more thoroughly than classroom learning allows. Doing it “my” way this time has been so helpful and given me a tremendous advantage at what is now a much more advanced level. There isn’t a character anymore whose components I don’t already know, so mnemonics come quickly.

For your example 商, it is true that it doesn’t easily officially break down. However, I found it helpful for mnemonic purposes to read the top part as a partial 立 “stand” and the bottom part is 冏 jiong3 for “bright”

So my mnemonic becomes: “ stand bright in COMMERCE by CONSULTing,” where the bold words are the components and the capitalised words are the meaning.

If you ever need help with components/subcomponents, just message me. I treated myself to most of Pleco’s many dictionaries, so I enjoy more detailed and less common or accessible definitions in many cases.

冏 jiong3 “bright” by the way is 冂 jiong1 for “wide” and 㕣 yan3 for “marsh at the foot of hills” (“eight river mouths make a MARSH”), which, if you’ve ever canoed in a marsh, makes sense as a metaphor for “bright” : “wide marshes” are blazing hot in summer and filled with light, as they are completely treeless.

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