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 radical 74 (yue4, 月), but only close. It apparently is not a proper Chinese word or phrase that can be looked up in a dictionary.

My current guess that it is an arbitrary construct for a situation where one of the basic constituents of a composite character is not another basic character nor a radical, yet something that is also made up of strokes, and that the pinyin name is the concatenation of stroke names.

Could an expert and/or native speaker please confirm or otherwise clarify. I'm especially interested whether such constructs have Unicode font representations (and what the Unicode representation U+xxxx of na4zi4pang2 would then be).

  • 2
    Na4zi4pang2 is Pinyin for '那字旁', literally 'the radical from 那'. I don't think there is a Unicode character for this radical.
    – NS.X.
    Oct 11, 2013 at 21:06
  • @NS.X. You have a Unicode for nearly all characters (depends on the version). Oct 12, 2013 at 1:14
  • @susisstrolch But that radical is not a character. It would be great if there is a Unicode character for it.
    – NS.X.
    Oct 12, 2013 at 4:49
  • @NS.X. +1 I see. The verbatim translation of the pinyin really helped here. What I'm taking away from your comment (BTW, if you want to post it as answer, I would be inclined to accept it as the answer) also is that the term radical need not refer to the 214 radicals from the Kangxi dictionary alone.
    – Drux
    Oct 12, 2013 at 6:44
  • I did as you suggested, to provide an answer that strictly speaks to the question. You've already got all the information you needed from the comments and @Stan's answer, but precision questioning and answering is a good thing to maintain for Q/A sites:)
    – NS.X.
    Oct 12, 2013 at 9:30

4 Answers 4


(This answer strictly speaks to the question. There is also some good, related information in the other answers you may find interesting.)

Na4zi4pang2 is Pinyin for 那字旁, literally 'the radical from 那'. It's the name of the radical instead of pronunciation for a character.

I am not an expert in character classification and (de)composition, I don't know in linguistics whether radicals are prescribed or can be defined by usage, hence I am unable to tell you whether the left side of is indeed a radical, is not a radical because Kangxi Dictionary didn't list it, or is not a radical because of some deeper logic.

But we can be sure that it is not a character, and I don't think there is a Unicode character for it.

  • 1
    𨙻 or 𨚗 is the origin of . Why not consider 冄 as 那字旁?
    – Stan
    Oct 12, 2013 at 9:30
  • @Stan Because I couldn't find any reference to support that, and I don't possess the expert knowledge to disambiguate when there is neither reference for it nor against it.
    – NS.X.
    Oct 12, 2013 at 9:34
  • +1 and BTW I've also upvoted @Stan's very informed answer.
    – Drux
    Oct 12, 2013 at 9:35
  • @NS.X. I think 說文解字's statement "从邑,冄聲" has clearly pointed out the radical and the phonetic part of 那 XD
    – Stan
    Oct 12, 2013 at 9:37
  • @Stan Exactly because 冄 is (was) a standalone character, it would have been called 冄字旁, like all the other radicals that are also characters. The name 那字旁 implies it is referring to a non-character component.
    – NS.X.
    Oct 12, 2013 at 9:49

There is no 那字旁 radical, but the left part of 那 can be

冄 rǎn (the same as 冉)


Seal Script

enter image description here

That's because in the seal script, 那 is written as

enter image description here

The left part is 冄, and the right part (radical) is 邑. So in 說文解字, it is described as


But it is better not to call 冄 a "radical", because modern dictionaries and older dictionaries haven't listed it as a radical.

It is interesting in 康熙字典, 那 has these interchangeable characters:

enter image description here enter image description here

But they are obsolete now, you should not use them.


The component is 「冄」, which is now written as 「冉」. The relevant Unicode codepoints are:

「那」 (Baxter-Sagart OC: /*nˤar/), originally referring to the State of Na, is comprised of phonetic 「冄」 (/*nam/) and semantic 「邑・阝」 (town, city). The meaning that is a late derivative of 「若」 (as according to Schuessler; Baxter-Sagart OC: /*nak/), and uses 「那」 as a phonetic loan.

For reference, the shapes of「那」are recorded as the following:

enter image description here

enter image description here


「冄」 depicts loose-hanging, soft feathers:


enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here


Clerical script styles later added a vertical stroke, leading on to the modern shape.


enter image description here

enter image description here


The original meaning of the character is now written as 「髯」 (beard/moustache). The word 「冉冉」 (slowly/loose hanging) is an extension of the original meaning.



If you use the too native2ascii you can convert any character / text to its ASCII representation.

Applied to 那字旁 阝you get \u90a3\u5b57\u65c1 \u961d

  • Now what does this show? So native2ascii can go from font characters to Unicode code points? The question is concerned with interpreting a bitmap. If I consult the Unihan database I can go both ways between characters and code points but still not start from a bitmap. BTW, if I apply Chinese OCR to na4zi4pang2, it fails.
    – Drux
    Oct 12, 2013 at 7:09

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