Chinese character challenges, October 2016

In Chinese by Olle Linge

character-challengeIn a way, learning characters is easy. When you know roughly how characters work and how they are composed, learning a new character is not hard. The difficulty comes from the large number of steps you have to take, not the difficulty of each individual step.

However, relating characters to each other is also part of the challenge. How are they similar? How are they different?

The challenges in this article are meant to help you practice that by solving tricky character puzzles. The answers are posted at the very end of the article, but don’t peek unless you have really tried to solve the challenges on your own. Also note that while we only provide one answer here, some challenges could have more than one right answer.

Without further ado, let’s get on with this month’s Chinese challenges!

Chinese character challenges for October 2016

  1. Guess what character can form (common) words with all of the the following characters:
  2. Find and fix the incorrect character in the following sentence:
    这块 士地是属于你的
  3. Which character does not belong in this group? Why?
  4. What character is this a mnemonic to?
    “Who beats you unless you do the correct thing?”

Answers with explanations

  1. 生 can form common words with all characters (生日、生命、生產、陌生).
  2. 士 should be 土 (stroke lengths different)
  3. 土 does not belong because it’s the only character that looks the same in simplified and traditional. All the others have in fact 4:1 mappings, meaning that there are four traditional characters corresponding to one simplified (shown here).
  4. 政 (parts meaning “straight; correct” and “strike; tap” respectively).

As mentioned above, there are probably other possible solutions. Just because you didn’t find the solution listed here doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re wrong.

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