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Students of the Nation: Images of the Nationalizing Chinese Child

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Students often wrote notational characters in the margins to aid their reading of the text. This marginalia came in three general types: those that served as homophones of more complex characters, those that formed common colloquial compounds, and those that clarified the meaning of a new term. On this page of his textbook, for example, second grader Shi Changrong wrote the simpler character 去 (qu, go) next to 趣 (qu, interest) as a reminder of the more complicated character’s pronunciation, 正 (zheng, upright, proper) next to “真” (zhen, really, so) for the same reason, and 要 (yao, important, want) beside “跳” (tiao, leap) to capture the final part of the latter character’s sound.

Source: Andong (1946, 3:3).