There was a time when the so-called Heisig method was for Japanese only. Those were dark times.
And even though the original version (“Adventures in Kanji-Land”) had been published as far back as 1978, no one had successfully produced a full working version for the Chinese character system. People who were learning Chinese - including me - were still hoping that one day the method would be applied to Chinese characters. (After all, the Japanese kanji come from the Chinese character set in the first place!)
The Age of Enlightenment
And then about five years ago the buzz was that it had been done: a book on Remembering Hanzi would be published. The person who had made it happen, working very closely with James Heisig of course, was Dr Timothy Richardson. And so Book 1 arrived with the first 1500 characters (which I devoured in about 3 months), and then 3 years later Book 2 arrived with the next 1500 characters (which I savoured over a year).
These were good times.
Over the last few months, I’ve been in touch with Tim - throwing a barrage of questions at him, including: When did this all begin? How did he approach James Heisig in the first place? What was the worst part of transferring the Heisig system to Chinese? Why did Book 2 take so long?!
And Tim has been ever-patient, answering my questions in amazing detail, telling a backstory which I found fascinating - and I know you will too!
In the next article, the full interview will be published. But for today I just wanted to share some of the really fascinating things I learned about Tim Richardson along the way …
Did you know … ?
- Tim is married, and has 9 children
- His first child was actually born in the Chinese city of Xian, on the university campus!
- He was born in Mesa, Arizona, and now lives in Hawaii
- There was a time when Tim was a missionary in Chile, and later he worked in Brazil ...
- … so in addition to lecturing on Chinese, he also teaches Spanish & Portuguese at his university
- It was about 20 years ago that Tim originally approached Heisig with the idea of applying the method to Chinese characters
- The amount of effort the two of them put into deciding which font to use for the characters in the book will surprise you!
- His favourite Chinese food (because we are all curious :-) is 酸辣土豆丝 (sour spicy shredded potatoes)
I’ve enjoyed connecting with Tim, and look forward to being able to publish the full interview in the next article. Stay tuned ...
(For the full collection of articles I have written about the Heisig method - including its history, and hints for its use, click here)