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I'm trying to learn a new method for learning and understanding chinese characters. So, I decided to start with memorizing every chinese radical. I'm use two different source but both wrote two different pinyin. Which one is right?

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  • Normally, it's 竖 shu4. – dan Jun 24 '18 at 4:28
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    The radical is gun3. Shu4 is the name of a stroke. – droooze Jun 24 '18 at 4:29
  • @droooze can you shed some light on the radical gun3? I think many wouldn't understand it. Maybe, it relates to the traditional Chinese I guess? Thanks. – dan Jun 24 '18 at 5:09
  • @dan It doesn't have anything to do with Traditional Chinese, it's just a radical (dictionary header) which doesn't really provide anything apart from a convenient grouping for characters which can't be grouped under anything else. Several common Simplified characters are grouped under this, while their Traditional counterparts wouldn't be. – droooze Jun 24 '18 at 5:41
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The glyph「丨」is called gǔn as a dictionary radical, and appears in most dictionaries including the Kangxi Dictionary, Xinhua Zidian, and Xiandai Hanyu Cidian. It is a homograph of the character stroke shù, which just means vertical (line), but this name is not the proper one used when referring to the radical.

The pronunciation of「丨」can be verified in e.g. the Kangxi Dictionary:

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「丨」, Jiyun: Fanqie initial and rime běn.

Characters which are grouped under「丨」commonly are done so because they couldn't be easily grouped under something else. The vast majority of these characters have a vertical stroke as a prominent feature in the character, and this is about all that they share.

The following are the only commonly used characters which are grouped under「丨」:

个, 丫, 中, 丰, 串, 临


As @dan mentioned, many people wouldn't understand what exactly this radical is (myself included, before I looked this up), because in general, radicals are not an intrinsic feature of Chinese characters. The most meaningful radicals also happen to be useful phonetic or semantic indicators, but not all radicals are, and there are a few "leftover" radicals that were created for the sake of grouping characters which can't be grouped under other radicals, such as「丨」,「丶」(zhǔ) and「丿」(piě).

To reiterate, these radicals are just shapes, and don't really mean or sound like anything to do with the characters that are grouped under them.

  • Can that pronunciation be verified in 新华字典? – dan Jun 24 '18 at 5:49
  • @dan I don't have a copy to check on me, but if you search on most Modern Chinese dictionaries they'll give the same pronunciation (gǔn). I just did a quick check online (e.g. here). – droooze Jun 24 '18 at 5:53
  • @dan I just checked 現代漢語詞典 and 漢語大詞典. 現代漢語詞典 doesn't record it as a separate entry (and hence doesn't give a pronunciation), but only groups characters under it by heading it with "丨部". 漢語大詞典 records it as gǔn. – droooze Jun 24 '18 at 6:07
  • I have one handy, but I can't get that pronunciation in it. I specifically look into all the characters with the pronunciation gun, but there is no 丨. Normally, we say 竖部 in daily communications. If you say gun3 部, I am not sure how many people understand it. Anyways, it's good to know it. – dan Jun 24 '18 at 6:08
  • @dan I think this is like the difference in the colloquial name for 彳 (雙人旁) and the proper name (chi4 部). BTW, I'm guessing 丨 isn't listed under shu4 either in your dictionary? – droooze Jun 24 '18 at 6:10
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According to 國語辭典 in Taiwan,

【丨】 部首:丨 部首外筆畫數:0 總筆畫數:1

漢語拼音 gǔn

二一四部首之一。

It is one of the 214 radicals. One stroke. Pinyin is "gǔn"

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