This morning my son and I started a new thing: 今日の漢字。"kyou no kanji"
Starting today, we're going to pick one kanji per day to focus on and learn. My son's 6, so this is a great time for him to really get into kanji in a fun way. It's great for me as well, since I just committed myself to getting JLPT certified, starting with the basics and going all the way.
Want to come along for the ride? I have a degree in Japanese language and literature and, at one point, I had about 2100 kanji committed to memory, reading and writing. Kanji is the key to everything in Japanese, and most non-Japanese find it the most "overwhelming" part of the language. It's not. It's just a bunch of pictures. If you can recognize a circle from a square, you can learn kanji. And if you get some kanji under your belt, your Japanese learning will hyper-accelerate.
Sooooooo......let's get started.
Today's kanji is: 中 (naka pronounced "nah-kah")
In hiragana, 中 is なか。 It means "middle". Other translations could be "in", "inside", or "center"
One of the best things about kanji is learning their radicals. Think of radicals as the linguistic equivalent of elements on the periodic table. The building blocks that everything else is made out of. Radicals are the building blocks of kanji. 中 has two radicals: The first is 口, kuchi, or mouth (for now, you can pronounce it "koo-chee", until I post a pronunciation guide for hiragana. The second radical is just a vertical line , going down through the middle of the 口。