So I spent a couple of hours with the Chinese poetry collection kickinpants sent me, the one that has the hanzi printed beside the translation, and a pen and a notebook, writing out the hanzi and looking up the ones I don't know in the hanzi dictionary mvrdrk sent me and trying to figure out what these utterly gnomic utterances might mean before looking at the translation. Because if I'm going to not-learn a language, I might as well aim high and not-learn Chinese instead.
And my does it take me back a dozen years to when I was doing this in Japanese. What's the radical of this fershlugginer thing? Fire? Lid? Christ, sun? It's not under the fire radicals-- or the lid radicals-- or the sun radicals. OK OK, let's count strokes and then go squint at the list of all ten-stroke hanzi, not that not that not that notthat notthat notthat notthat (repeat 60 times) THERE it is no.5762 flip-flip-flip and its radical is... fire. But it wasn't listed under the fire radicals!!! see see see oh uh there it is. Twelve years ago I didn't need to wear glasses to do this but now I do. A magnifying glass might help as well.
Especially when I find a hanzi that the dictionary says means 'military commander, general' in the middle of a poem about wine, and the translator renders it as 'think,' and try as I might I can't find a similar-looking hanzi that means anything of the sort. Doesn't mean it's not there; just that 90 minutes of this exercise makes the eyes go round. Or maybe it's similar to what happened to the Old English disig, which meant foolish, and selig, which meant holy, that have now become dizzy and silly. Only in this case it's umm meliorative drift, yes? to go from military to intelligence?