Questions about the Chinese characters, called Hanzi, about their characteristics and everything that relates to them.

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7
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2answers
120 views

Semantic Puns and Alternative Hanzi

There seems to be a set of Chinese words that have alternatives (disregarding the traditional/simplified split). For example, 借 and 藉. Within this class of alternatives, however, seems to be a set of ...
6
votes
6answers
1k views

Which fonts show the stroke order of all characters?

For academic purposes, I need to print out some pages of characters with stroke orders shown. Which computer fonts (e.g. TrueType or OpenType) are available which show the stroke order of each ...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

Reading Chinese without speaking it

I've been enjoying the book Chineasy and it make me wonder if it would be possible to read chinese without knowing how to speak it phonetically. Technically it might not be "reading chinese" because ...
6
votes
1answer
634 views

勇 character on soldiers' uniforms in movies

I don't know much about Chinese military history, but I do see this character appearing on historical uniforms (fictitious or actual) worn by soldiers in movies, some are set in the Qing dynasty some ...
6
votes
1answer
129 views

Why the popular name for Pandas 熊猫 consists of its words in inverse order 猫熊?

According to Pleco dictionary the popular name for Pandas is 熊猫, while the "original" name is 猫熊. Its characters meaning order change from: popular: bear cat original: cat bear
6
votes
1answer
297 views

Is the traditional character for 雪 the same as itself?

Is the traditional character for ? Or are both and considered the same character (汉字) with simply different font styles?
6
votes
3answers
948 views

How are the terms for “male/female” and “man/woman” divided exactly?

I know that daughter in Chinese is 女儿, and son is 儿子. A little side-question: Why isn't "son" 男儿? My main question is this one though: apart from son and daughter stated above, what are the ...
6
votes
1answer
106 views

Why is 景 written “wrong” on the Nestorian Stele?

I noticed that 景 is written on the Tang-era Nestorian Stele with the "boxes" switched, ie. the 口 is above and 日 is below. Would this be a standard way to write the character during that time, or is it ...
6
votes
2answers
349 views

奇 is a strange character

Lost Etymology 奇 ( jī | qí ) is a character that means strange but the etymology appears to have been lost. At least as far as I can tell after researching offline books, zhongwen.com, and ...
6
votes
3answers
246 views

What's the difference between 蝦 and 鰕?

I found there are two characters for "xia1" (ghra as in Middle Chinese), 蝦 and 鰕. Could someone explain what the difference is?
6
votes
3answers
223 views

Visual puns and phrases

Some characters are visual puns: 尜 (小大小), 尖 (小大); others are a phrase written as a single character: 膥 (未成肉), 籴 (入米), 汆 (入水), 奀 (不大). What are some other characters which fit into these categories?
6
votes
2answers
644 views

着 vs 著? Is it the same

Is 着 the same as 著? Can I interchange them, for example: Is 這位着名的歌手的名字是__ The same as 這位著名的歌手的名字是__ (put a name in "__")
6
votes
3answers
860 views

Is “ 事出必有因 ” the most accurate translation for “ everything happens for a reason ”?

Is " 事出必有因 " the most accurate translation for " everything happens for a reason "? If not, what is it? Thanks!
6
votes
2answers
90 views

When to use 手 and when to use 家 for a type of musician or other specialist

Is it true that 家("jia")denotes perhaps greater competence or prestige, while 手(“手”) is a slightly less professional specialist? How can one know when to use one rather than the other? Examples: ...
6
votes
2answers
328 views

Is there an authoritative reference for the stroke order of simplifed characters?

It seems various people often have various ways to write the same characters. For instance, I have seen the radical "忄" being written in three different ways (left, middle, right; left, right, middle; ...
5
votes
4answers
664 views

What's the difference between 江 and 河?

My daily newsletter contained the following sentence: 长江是中国最长的河。 According to the dictionary, 江 and 河 both mean "river", but they seem to be used differently. Am I right in assuming that 长河是中国最长的江 ...
5
votes
2answers
764 views

What is a one-character translation of the English word “Freedom”?

I've been trying to find a single-character translation of the word "freedom," but I can't seem to find one anywhere. The best translation I can find is, of course, 自由, which seems to be a fairly ...
5
votes
1answer
148 views

What is the story or reason of how 龙 came from 龍?

I'm just beginning to learn Mandarin and I have an excellent teacher. She tells me a lot of stories of how the characters came to be. Today we talked about the character for dragon, but she doesn't ...
5
votes
2answers
738 views

Looking for very common dialect words which have no Standard Mandarin Chinese hanzi characters

I'm basing this question on several assumptions, so if they are wrong please say so as an answer: Written Chinese is mainly used for Standard (Mandarin) Chinese. Mostly other Chinese languages ...
5
votes
4answers
408 views

Searching for characters by parts

Are there any online or computer dictionaries that allow searching for characters by any sub-part of the character? Occasionally it I see a character the parts of which I can already type. But I ...
5
votes
2answers
173 views

Character 瞓: where did the pronunciations come from?

The character 瞓 is a Cantonese character meaning "sleep". It is pronounced xùn in mandarin and fan3 in Cantonese. I was wondering how two so different pronunciations (I would expect xun to match syun ...
5
votes
3answers
350 views

Learn the characters at the same time as the language?

Should I learn Mandarin basics first through pinyin and worry about the characters later, or should I learn them together? Pros and cons?
5
votes
1answer
285 views

An unknown Traditional Chinese character on a decorative piece for Lunar New Year

I'm a East Asian preparing to celebrate the Lunar New Year and have found this piece of decoration. The Chinese character on it is, I'm pretty sure, a Traditional one, literally full of strokes and ...
5
votes
1answer
134 views

For which senses of simplified 制 would I use the traditional form 製?

Simplified characters do not always mirror their traditional counterparts one to one. Sometimes you have a simplified character where some of its senses have one traditional form and some have another ...
5
votes
2answers
226 views

Is there a list of characters specifically used for western proper nouns?

When learning country/place names or reading about non-Chinese people in the media I see the same characters used for similar phonemes (see these celebrities). What rule or list do the writers follow ...
5
votes
1answer
94 views

What is the difference between 濱 and 瀕?

Another pair of homonyms with similar/identical meaning. A dictionary check gives me this: 濱 (1) 水邊。如:「河濱」、「海濱」、「她喜歡在湖濱散步。」 (2) 靠近。如:「濱臨」、「濱海公路」。 瀕 (1) 水邊。如:「河瀕」、「江瀕」。 (2) 臨近、迫近。如:「瀕臨」、「瀕危」。 This ...
5
votes
3answers
219 views

How to type these old and rare Chinese characters?

I've tried to google these old Chinese characters using their closest approximations but still haven't found out any. I want to find these characters so that I can copy and paste them instead of ...
5
votes
3answers
107 views

Character classification by type

Can anyone point me to an online resource that lists characters by classification? I.e., I'm looking for a list of characters that are generally considered pictographs / complex and simple ideographs ...
5
votes
3answers
187 views

或: how did “region” become “either”?

The character 或 is used today for the meanings "or", "either", "maybe", and "perhaps". Historically, it had the meaning of "region", and it is this meaning that characters like 國 and 域 derive from. ...
5
votes
2answers
199 views

Difference between 佈 and 布

Can anyone help me clarify the difference between 佈 and 布? If I'm not mistaken, this is only relevant for traditional characters since 佈 has been simplified to 布. A dictionary lookup for 佈 shows that ...
5
votes
1answer
119 views

When was 华/華 first used as a reference to China?

E.g. as in 中华 or 华语, and other similar words.
5
votes
5answers
942 views

Teaching Pinyin and Characters together vs Teaching Pinyin then Characters

I'm designing a curriculum to teach middle school students elementary Chinese. When I started learning, I began with Traditional Chinese characters and pinyin together on day one. I'm not so sure the ...
5
votes
1answer
204 views

Character layout in calligraphy e.g. with respect to a quotation from Confucius

I recently attended a brief introductory workshop about calligraphy at a Confucius Institute. The instructor, who also teaches at the local university and is both a calligrapher and painter from ...
5
votes
1answer
202 views

Do you write every character? [closed]

I have been studying Chinese for a few months now. I am using some software to test my knowledge of the characters. Sometimes I do not recognize every character of a word but I can still derive the ...
4
votes
2answers
411 views

Why is the character 漢 built in such a weird way?

漢 is the character meaning "China" or "Sino-". It supposedly ultimately derives from the name of the river Han. I understand why the water radical is present there, but I have no idea why the ...
4
votes
3answers
399 views

What does 自个 mean: “since a” or “onself”

As a title, I have found to meanings for 自个: "since a" or "oneself", what is correct and how to translate it?
4
votes
2answers
188 views

How to describe 陈省身's name

Shiing-shen Chern, 陈省身 (1911--2004), is a famous geometer. When taking about him with Chinese people who do not study math and have not heard of him, how can I best describe which characters 陈, 省, ...
4
votes
2answers
410 views

够 or 夠 - Two characters, one meaning?

够 or 夠 both mean be enough according to my electronic dictionaries. I was surprised to find one character in my text "Reading & Writing Chinese," (McNaughton & Li, 1999) A different ...
4
votes
3answers
213 views

What is na4zi4pang2 (pinyin) in the decomposition of na4 (那)?

The New Practical Chinese Reader introduces the following decomposition: na4 (那) = na4zi4pang2 + yi4 (阝). I understand that 阝 represents radical 163 (yi4). Na4zi4pang2 (pinyin) looks close to ...
4
votes
3answers
305 views

Why was the rice radical added to 气 to form 氣?

气 is an ancient character that has roots in an oracle bone pictogram, but according to this, the rice radical was added in the Tang dynasty to form 氣. What were the reasons for this? What does 气, ...
4
votes
2answers
123 views

What is the original meaning of 匈 (besides “chest/breast/thorax”)?

The Wikipedia article on the 匈奴 gives a literal translation as 'fierce slaves'. Did 匈 mean 'fierce' in former times? What is the etymology of this character?
4
votes
1answer
471 views

Wubihua / Traditional Chinese / Open-source index

I have been looking for an open-source index of Chinese characters (Traditional) indexed by the Wubihua (五筆劃). I have found only partial lists (up to four digits), and only for Simplified. I know ...
4
votes
5answers
120 views

Pairs which are of the form AB / BA

I need help with 实现 v.s. 现实 and 罪犯 v.s. 犯罪. I find it hard to remember the distinction between these pairs which are of the form AB / BA. Can anyone help me grasp the underlying ideas/logic/feeling? ...
4
votes
1answer
178 views

How to tell when one word starts and another word ends?

I am doing some work with scanning Chinese text with my computer and I have run into a problem that I do not have with other languages. Because there are no spaces between characters, I cannot tell ...
4
votes
1answer
95 views

Etymological character reference [duplicate]

Is there an authoritative etymological reference for characters? It looks like all books I'm reading about Chinese characters have their own explanation. To me, all of them seem reliable, but I ...
4
votes
2answers
146 views

Characters for Taiwanese

As far as I know, Cantonese has its associated characters. But as I searched for Taiwanese characters, I only find the pinyin system to indicate the pronunciation of words, such as: 遮雨 ...
4
votes
2answers
200 views

丼: why is “well” also “bowl of food”?

丼 is an ancient variant of 井, which means "well" (as in the water kind). What's curious is that the former seems to also mean "bowl of food", at least in some dictionaries: 汉典: English bowl ...
4
votes
1answer
182 views

why 秋千? Where does the name come from?

Had a look around in my dictionaries wondering if anyone has any input as to why a 秋千 is 秋+千, what's the significance?
4
votes
2answers
127 views

Interpretation of second character

Here's a picture I have found on flickr, taken in an outdoor museum in South Korea. I can only recognize the 1st, 3rd and 4th characters: 寶X山房. 寶 is probably not the variant written on the wooden ...
3
votes
7answers
2k views

Writing Chinese Characters is Sloppy

Since learning Mandarin through Rosetta Stone, Youtube videos, and friends, I've begun to keep a journal of mandarin characters and phrases. I first draw the character, along with the pinyin and ...