I recently came across a document that says the radical of "字" is "こへん". And I think that is wrong. Any "_へん" must be in the left region of a kanji (or is that just a guideline?).

The aliases for "子" are listed as: [こども、こ、こへん、こどもへん]. Which of these statements is correct?:

  • "字"の部首{ぶしゅ}はこへんです。
  • "字"の部首はこどもへんです。
  • "字"の部首はこです。
  • "字"の部首はこどもです。

Just like with "子", there are lots of radicals that can be placed in different regions. So how do you decide the proper radical alias to use for each kanji? For example, the radical of "明" is definitely "ひへん". But, should the radical of "旧" also be called "ひへん"?

I am not asking how to identify the radical of a kanji. Rather, I want to know how to decide the name of the kanji radical aliases.

字 = (うかんむり + こへん)

"うかんむり" is perfectly placed. A radical alias with a "かんむり" suffix goes on top.
"こへん" seems wrong because a radical alias with a "へん" suffix goes in the left region.

字 = (うかんむり + ?)

I'm thinking those suffixes are just guidelines.

2 Answers 2


Words like へん and かんむり are not arbitrary suffixes. So the list of names you're seeing are not "aliases" we can use whenever. See: http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%81%8F%E6%97%81 that explains in Japanese where each name type goes. It's also done a little better on the 部首 page.

Here's my rough translation of that with some slight amending:

偏(へん):Placed on the left part.
旁(つくり):Placed on the right part.
冠(かんむり):At the top.
脚(あし):On the bottom
構(かまえ):Makes a box around it e.g., 囲
垂(たれ):hangs around the top 广、厂, etc.
繞(にょう):left and bottom 遊、走 (the parts that are left and bottom)

Thus a 子 on the bottom should not be called 子編 nor a 日 on the right 日編. In general, the first name on the list of words for that bushu is the one you should use unless its occupying a specific position that has a name.

What I do (as a non-native speaker) and what I hear other people do is things like (without really caring which is the actual radical on the character):

ウ冠、したに子ども or したに子.

ごんべんで、東 = 諌める

For instance, 分 is "「八」に「刀」です。".

  • I agree that 子 in the "アシ" region is not "こへん". But then, what is it? What is the correct "通称"? "こあし"? That is not correct. The only "アシ" I know of is (ひとあし): 兄、光、元。So, I still don't get it. "字" is the "うかんむり" radical and the ??? radical.
    – user312440
    Dec 12, 2014 at 17:35
  • i am definitely satisfied with this answer. thanks. even for native speakers the realm of formal radical names is kind of murky. thanks.
    – user312440
    Dec 13, 2014 at 0:12
  • ウ冠で、下に[子]{こ}。 But I'd stay away from the word "radical" -- it's insanely unhelpful and confusing. This is largely because "radical" often means "part" when we English speakers use it (as you're using it here), but that's not what radical means when talking about kanji...
    – virmaior
    Dec 13, 2014 at 0:49
  • If there are not 214 kangxi 部首 and 214 kangxi radicals, I would definitely like to research the "radical" is not 部首 issue you mention. But, please give me a little direction so I could google this. However, if you are just saying most English speakers don't understand "radicals", then I can agree.
    – user312440
    Dec 13, 2014 at 3:17
  • I'm saying something closer to the latter, but I'm confused by your usage of "radical." In your comment, you seem to equate it with 部首, but your question seems to center on how to say all of the parts of a character as a description...
    – virmaior
    Dec 13, 2014 at 8:30

I forgot the names of them but they are definitely not only on the left. How would you define the radical of 本 ? Plenty on the top... bottom... right... etc.

Have you ever looked at the Nelson dictionary? Not sure if it's useful in studies these days, but it was back before computers took over the world. The inside cover is the radical table. Somewhere in the book it explains the science behind determining the radical.

EDIT: I use science very lightly. While there is a science, you don't need to know it extensively to properly look up kanji .:)

  • 1
    Please see my clarification. I am talking about radical aliases.
    – user312440
    Dec 11, 2014 at 21:04
  • Great, a down vote. :-/ Anyway, I understand the question now w/ the clarification. I will go out on a limb and say it's user's choice. IE, as you said they are aliases, which means they all work. Example of them listed as any of the above: jiten.go-kanken.com/kanji/029.html Dec 11, 2014 at 21:56
  • BTW, I got that from Googling one of your 4 example sentences. If you're ready to have your mind blown, check out this hit which was also on the first page. detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q1211563272 Dec 11, 2014 at 21:58
  • 3
    I'm afraid I don't see how this answers any part of the question.
    – Earthliŋ
    Dec 12, 2014 at 1:45
  • Did you read my comments? Dec 12, 2014 at 13:18

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