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Students of the Nation: Images of the Nationalizing Chinese Child

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Some children added characters to form common vernacular compounds, perhaps using them as mnemonic markers that helped them remember individual characters’ pronunciations. Thus, to the left of 見 (jian, see), the student Shi Changrong wrote 看 (kan, see) to form the compound meaning “to catch sight of,” and elsewhere on the page he employed the same technique to form the compound 歡喜 (huanxi, happy). Other methods allowed students to create simple dictionary definitions for new terms introduced in a lesson. Next to the character 處 (chu, place), for example, Shi wrote 的方 as a pseudohomophone for the colloquial compound 地方 (difang, place). Such paratextual reading strategies were common throughout the late 1940s and 1950s and were often encouraged by teachers.

Source: Andong (1946, 3:2).