Where did I learn these Chinese characters?
October 3, 2019 3:56 PM   Subscribe

When I was a young hanov3r, I found a book that was intended to, in a humorous fashion, teach mnemonics to remember a bunch of Chinese (or, MAYBE, Japanese?) characters. I can identify the characters for the numbers 1 through 6 and 10 because of the descriptions, along with the characters for 'man' and 'woman', but that's about it. I want to find this book again.

Because of the overlap between Chinese and kanji in Japan, it's hard to remember now which language the book was intended to teach. But I remember a couple of things, none of which are easily Google-able:

1, 2, and 3 are represented by the correct number of noodles laid side by side. 4 was a stylized picture of two boys hanging upside down from monkey bars (their four legs representing 4). 5 was an attempt to build the number 5 out of wet noodles, so it needed to be propped up. 6 was a table with a vase on top (made of six pieces - four legs, the tabletop, and the vase). 10 was two piles of five noodles each laid across each other.

If you're unfamiliar with the characters, they can be seen here.

The symbol for 'man' is a highly stylized man walking; 'woman' is similar but she has a bosom.

Is this something that anyone else here has read or remembers? Help me find it again!
posted by hanov3r to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Kanji Pict-O-Graphix maybe?

Can't confirm exact pictures as I don't own the book anymore
posted by Caravantea at 4:11 PM on October 3, 2019

Fun with Chinese Characters, the Straits Times Collection? They are little cartoon explanations of each character, although I don't remember how the numbers were taught, the character for woman did have a prominent bosom.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 9:30 PM on October 3, 2019

Neither of those looks familiar and both may be too recent (I would have seen this book in the late 70s or early 80s at the latest). And the book I remember had more of a narrative than it appears either of those might have.
posted by hanov3r at 8:04 AM on October 4, 2019

I had the Fun With Chinese Characters books as a kid and I still feel like that might be the one - it looks like that series has been published since at least 1980, and the entries were all very narrative and comedic, usually including some history of the evolution of the character. Here's the entry for "woman" - can't find anything for the numbers online, but that description sounds very familiar.
posted by limnerent at 3:10 PM on October 4, 2019

Thanks to Scribd, I've had a look at the _Fun with Chinese Characters_ books. The only number I can find is 'shí', ten, and the image is not what I remember. The three volumes of _Fun with Chinese Characters_ don't have a section devoted to numbers, and the book I remember definitely had that.

Thanks, though!
posted by hanov3r at 12:33 PM on October 7, 2019

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