About Kanji Radicals
In keeping with the custom of English-language Sino-Japanese character dictionaries this 部首索引 is titled "Radical Index." Users should however bear in mind that the term 部首 does not mean "radical." Rather, it refers to headers employed in classifying Chinese characters.
One unfortunate consequence of the use of the word "radical" is the misunderstanding that the radical according to which a character is classified must have a "root" connection with the character itself. As it happens, though, the classifying scheme used in traditional Sino-Japanese character dictionaries demands that all characters be assigned to one of 214 部首, a number insufficient to cover all exigencies.
The result is that we find scores of characters classified under radicals with which they have no etymological connection. For example, the character
一 (one) has nothing to do with either the formation nor the meaning of the character
万 (ten thousand), though
万 is listed under the radical 一. In the same manner,
二 (two) is unrelated to
十 (ten) to
口 (mouth) to
右 and so on. It is simply that
右 etc. had to be classified under one of the 214 available choices, and were assigned to their 部首 on the basis of graphic similarity that is purely coincidental.
So don't be perplexed when you find
市 assigned to the 部首
日 or other instances where the 部首 has no role in the etymology.
One more anomaly regarding classifiers may be observed in a handful of
phonetic compound characters in which, for reasons obscure, the sound note doubles as the classifier. (The normative pattern for
phonetic compounds is classifier + sound note). Examples include
Japanese names of the radicals are given in hiragana. へん refers to the position at the left of a compound character. The name of a radical is not followed by へん (or べん) when the radical appears in a position other than at the left. "Non-OUCs" refers to characters other than the 1,945 included on Japan's Official Use Character List.
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