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

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25
votes
8answers
1k views

How do we choose the correct characters for a westerner name?

Since there are many characters that share a common pronunciation and sometimes also the same tone, how do we properly choose which character best represents our name? Is it totally arbitrary or are ...
18
votes
14answers
2k views

Techniques for learning and retaining characters

For many of us, memorizing characters is a difficult thing. In Chinese, just because you can speak the word doesn't mean you can read it. Just because you can read it doesn't mean you can write it. At ...
3
votes
3answers
652 views

What are the relative literacy rates in for simplified and traditional characters?

I'm trying to decide whether it would be better to use traditional or simplified characters for an iPhone game I'm making. If something is written in traditional, how many people will be able to read ...
35
votes
9answers
6k views

How many characters do I need to learn?

How many Chinese characters would I generally need to learn to be able to handle most text in typical every day circumstances? How many would be required to be considered fluent? Are there any good ...
20
votes
5answers
2k views

How can one determine the radical for a given character?

Many times, when reading Mandarin, I will happen across a character that I don't know. Usually, the radical along with some context will clue me into the meaning, but if I can't determine the ...
9
votes
5answers
1k views

Is there a site that can split characters into radicals?

For example, let's examine character heaven. It has a Ren radical (men). And then we add a strip to become Tha (big). And then we add another strip to get heaven. Now, is there a site to do so? I ...
7
votes
2answers
668 views

How does CJK Decomposition compare to the Wikimedia Commons Chinese characters decomposition data?

I found two public databases that describe the composition of Chinese characters. 1 - CJK Decomposition Data 2 - Chinese Characters Decomposition on Wiki Commons I can see how the formats they use ...
9
votes
3answers
545 views

What's the actual difference between 文 and 语?

Both mean "language" with some other related meanings. A friend of mine told me that while 文 refers more to the written language, 语 is more related to the spoken one. Is this a difference and is it ...
6
votes
5answers
797 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 ...
25
votes
11answers
2k views

Etymology of the Chinese number characters (一二三四五六七八九十百千)

Main Question: What is the etymology of the Chinese number characters (一二三四五六七八九十百千)? Related question: Why isn't 四 four lines? (the origin of 一 二 三 四 五 六 七 八 九) I decide to write a ...
21
votes
4answers
1k views

Why isn't 四 four lines? (the origin of 一 二 三 四 五 六 七 八 九)

A common experience of beginner hanzi students is their raised hopes and expectations when they learn 一 二 三 - "what a wonderfully elegant language!" - which are promptly crushed when they encounter 四. ...
19
votes
5answers
1k views

What is the difference between 狗 and 犬?

狗 (gǒu) and 犬 (quǎn) both mean "dog" and both seem relatively common, but is there any difference between them? When should I use one and when should I use the other?
12
votes
2answers
189 views

Is there a rule that tells what characters can be omitted?

I have a habit of using too many characters when I speak and write. For example: 我回我的家。 我的 is not needed, and we can simply say 我回家。 Is there a grammar rule for when to cut characters? A ...
11
votes
3answers
588 views

足: why is “foot” also “enough”?

足 is an ancient character meaning "foot". However, it also means "enough" or "sufficient", and this second definition is also very old. Consider this excerpt: 兵甲已足。——诸葛亮《出师表》 This is from ...
18
votes
4answers
755 views

Reading handwriting

How can I get better at reading handwriting? Are there fonts that look like it, or web sites with examples for practice? Are there some common shortcuts that people take when writing by hand?
3
votes
3answers
433 views

“Four-part” composition of characters

I would like to compile a list of characters where you can draw two lines in a + shape, running through the center of the character to cleanly separate it into four "components." Some leeway must be ...
8
votes
1answer
575 views

Analog of Hong Kong grade level for Chinese characters?

The Unihan database lists a kGradeLevel for each entry. This is the primary grade in the Hong Kong school system by which a student is expected to know the corresponding character. Is there a similar ...
7
votes
4answers
685 views

Origin of beautiful kingdom and hero kingdom

Why in Mandarin chinese, USA is beautiful kingdom and England is hero kingdom?
6
votes
2answers
297 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
203 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?
5
votes
4answers
336 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
182 views

Difference between 只,之, and 支?

I'm a native speaker but I don't know the first thing about writing Chinese, on Rosetta stone we were shown 一支笔 and 一只狗, whats the difference and where and when do you use each one?
5
votes
1answer
246 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
2answers
146 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
5answers
696 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
399 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
231 views

Radical meaning vs characters in use

The radical 阜 and its other form 阝, used on the left, supposedly means mound or dam. Looking at image web search hits for 阜 or 阝, I get nothing related to dam or mound. When I look up the Chinese ...