Do any radicals have differing meanings between Japanese and Chinese?
(This is not a discussion post. Please say whether or not radicals have different meanings between languages and additional information if necessary.
If this is a duplicate, say what this is a duplicate of and/or link to it if possible.)

  • Radicals are dictionary headers used to sort out characters in a dictionary. They don't mean anything by themselves, like how English dictionary headers (the alphabet) don't mean anything - sometimes they map on to meaningful components (like how the letter 'A' maps on to a word 'a' or the bound morpheme 'a-' meaning without or negation in English), but that's not a universal rule. – dROOOze May 7 '18 at 7:30
  • Radicals do mean something. An obvious example: the left radical of 林 is 木 and means a tree. So 杉 is a kind of tree. Another obvious example: the top radical of 筆 is 竹 and means bamboo. So 筒 represents the hollow of the bamboo. I suspect all radicals mean something, even those whose stand-alone forms are little known. For example, the stand-alone form of the radical 辶 is 辵, which is little used today (at least in Japan) but means something according to the Wikipedia. – Ryo May 7 '18 at 15:36
  • @Ryo radicals are an organisation tool in dictionaries. They forced a choice of radical cut as a portion from every character they want to list in dictionaries even when there wasn’t an obvious choice to cut. Many radicals are completely arbitrary. – dROOOze May 8 '18 at 1:22
  • @droooze What you say doesn't contradict what I did. Radicals are "utilized" as an organizational tools in dictionaries. That doesn't mean radicals don't mean anything. Perhaps you don't know well what radicals are. Each Chinese characters consist of one or more radicals. 桐 consists of the radical 木 and the radical 同. (You say 桐 is cut into these two pieces. That is wrong.) Both radicals mean something. Dictionaries choose to organize 桐 under the radical 木 . That choice is arbitrary---This is what you say and is correct. That doesn't contradict what I say: each radical has a meaning. – Ryo May 8 '18 at 11:31
  • @Ryo yeah...you're the one who don't know what radicals are. Radicals were invented in the publication 說文解字 in the second century, whereas Chinese characters were firmly in existence since 1300 BCE. Characters aren't made up from radicals, which were invented 1500 years later as a dictionary organisation tool; they are combined using components which may have been characters themselves, which have undergone many graphical changes and which have nothing to do with radicals (chosen at the time a dictionary X decided to organise characters). Your terminology is astoundingly incorrect. – dROOOze May 8 '18 at 11:56

I know this is fairly exceptional, but some Japanese-coined kanji (aka 国字/和製漢字) use radicals in a way only Japanese people understand. For example, 糎 means centimeter, where 米 is a "radical" for meter (厘 means one hundredth also in Chinese). Japanese people also used 粁 (kilometer), 粍 (millimeter), etc. Chinese people do not use 米 this way. 瓩 is a Japanese-coined kanji for kilogram, where 瓦 is a "Japanese radical" meaning gram. When 瓩 was reverse-imported to China, they came to mean kilowatt instead of kilogram because 瓦 is a kanji for watt in Chinese (and only in Chinese). See this Wiktionary entry for 瓩. Note that all these kanji are obsolete at least in Japanese.

EDIT: Looks like 米 can mean meter also in Chinese... The "radical for gram" is 瓦 in Japanese and 克 in Chinese.

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