Friday, July 21, 2006


All Chinese characters either are themselves or have a component called a radical. I’m not sure if there is an absolute definition of a radical, but most will give a hint to the characters meaning. Or at least place the character in a category like, has something to do with people ( 亻, the man radical), or has something to do with plants ( 艹 , the grass radical). Mind you the relationship between the meaning of the character and the category the radical places it in can often be very obscure and often culture based.

Chinese dictionaries are organised by radical, which are organised by the number of strokes used to write the radical. Depending on the dictionary used there can be as many as 214 different radicals with between 1 and 17 stroke counts.

I am going to start learning Chinese characters by first learning the characters for the numbers 1 to 17, followed by the radicals. Then I will start to learn some proper characters.

I was hopping to use the free ZDT flashcard software for this, but I can’t get it to work on my computer. All the characters look like little squares.


Blogger Chris said...

Not sure about the 1-17 bit don't you just need 1-10 to go all the way up to 99 (seventeen being shi2qi1, 99 being jiu3shi2jiu3).

Interested to see how you get on though I was exposing a similar strategy on Chinespod forum. I figured if I eventually learn about radicals and strokes first, at the very least I will get a headstart on dictionary use.

Shame about the ZDT though, I love it. As you probably know it has a flash card set already for the radicals. Dimsum is good too, has a radical/stroke lookup facility.

6:50 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Another thought, Dimsum is Java too. Do the Characters work on this program.

Also are you missing some fonts or something??

6:52 AM  
Blogger John said...

I just meant I just wanted to learn to write the numbers up to 17 because that would allow me to quickly look up radicals in the dictionaries I have.

I don't think I am missing any fonts. ZDT is the only software I have this problem with. I spent some time playing with Windows but couldn't fix it.

Yes, it will be interesting to see how you go as well, because we both seem to be at a similar level when we are starting the characters.

11:58 AM  

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