I am attaching images of 部首 (Associated BuShou) from the widely used 新华字典 (XinHuaZiDian) that have no current Unicode encoding, therefore cannot be typed using your typical software on your typical computer. How are these pronounced and how are they called as 部首? Example: 亻is pronounced: rén (according to Google) and is called as a 部首: 单人旁 or 单立人. Ideally I am hoping for a unique identification that distinguishes these from their Primary BuShou.

Likewise how are the following 部首 pronounced and called: [16] 𠘨, [88] 冃, [118] ⺪? The bracketed [number] being the corresponding Index Number in the 新华字典. I cannot find a translator to give me the pronunciation and cannot find how they are called.

BuShou lacking Unicode Encoding

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    I don't think these are that uncommon, or at least not all of them are uncommon. They are part of the 280 Primary and Associated BuShou in the XinHuaZiDian and are fundamental Indexing Components in the GF0011-2009 Official Table of Indexing Chinese Character Component publication. I contacted Unicode and found at least 3 of the 4 missing (untypeable) components are on the table for inclusion in future versions of Unicode. I find it curious that fundamental components of one of the world's most widely used languages cannot be pronounced or written. Jul 25, 2021 at 8:12
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    @mika I always wonder how people look up dictionaries when they don't know the pronunciation of the character they want to look up and know of doing it only by pinyin. Surely they must do it by stroke count or 部首.
    – joehua
    Jul 25, 2021 at 20:23
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    ...I mean, 部首 is a last resort if you're using a paper dictionary, and to use a 部首 system properly you need to already know the 部首 of a character in the first place. Some very common characters have obscure 部首 that I doubt the average person can guess. Personally I wouldn't be able to easily guess the 部首 of things like 串, 年, or 丸. Digital handwriting recognition, on the other hand, works every time - you don't need to know anything about the character you're trying to look up, except how to imitate the shape.
    – dROOOze
    Jul 25, 2021 at 21:34
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    @mika - entirely agree. I live in China and a number of the people I have been working with can no longer identify the 部首 - sort of akin to native English speakers no longer knowing the terms of grammar. There are clearly advantages to 拼音 input systems as is testament by their dominance, yet the old ways also had advantages. As for learning a new language, there is a field of study called kinesthetic learning involving a connection with the body and learning. I am looking for this as supplemental material for a kinesthetic based Chinese language learning tool I am designing. Jul 26, 2021 at 3:41
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    I have also met those that sit in a classroom and go home to read a textbook or sit and play an app. And this is not working for all of them. It goes in one ear and out the other. It becomes drudgery. When you pick up a spear and go into the jungle, you get the blood flowing, extra oxygen and other stimulating biochemicals are getting to the brain. You enter a heightened cognitive state. You can't particularly do that for studying Chinese, yet you can mimic the effects through involving the activity, collaboration and competition. I am working this angle. Jul 27, 2021 at 3:01

3 Answers 3


FYI, you're overemphasising the importance of this.

Firstly, the de facto international Chinese character radical indexing standard is the Kangxi system for orthodox characters, which is what Unicode primarily focuses on, not Xinhua dictionary's Simplified Chinese system (which itself is derived from the Kangxi system).

Secondly, radicals are not character components, they're only dictionary indexing tools. For example, the radical of 「年」 is 「干」, but you cannot decompose 「年」 to get 「干」.

Pretty much everything you've listed has Unicode encodings, and has an associated Pinyin:

    • 彐, CJK UNIFIED IDEOGRAPH-5F50, U+5F50, Pinyin:
    • 屮, CJK UNIFIED IDEOGRAPH-5C6E, U+5C6E, Pinyin: chè
    • 车, CJK UNIFIED IDEOGRAPH-8F66, U+8F66, Pinyin: chē
  • ⾀, KANGXI RADICAL #129 BRUSH, U+2F80
    • 聿, CJK UNIFIED IDEOGRAPH-807F, U+807F, Pinyin:
    • 𠘨, CJK UNIFIED IDEOGRAPH-20628, U+20628, Pinyin:
  • (Not a Unicode radical)
    • 冃, CJK UNIFIED IDEOGRAPH-5183, U+5183, Pinyin: mào
    • 𤴔, CJK UNIFIED IDEOGRAPH-24D14, U+24D14, Pinyin: shū

Now, most people won't know or use these Pinyin values, but that's hardly the fault of the Unicode digitisation committee. It's up to the IMEs to support this, and the support will only happen if the people or customers demand it.

Since it doesn't look like there is such a demand, you can infer that the feature isn't that important.

  • This is all nice but it is getting away from my question. It would be fun on another venue, such as over a beer in a bar, to take on some of your opinions, yet here I am simply asking anyone if they know how to pronounce and identify the BuShou that I listed. Jul 25, 2021 at 10:37
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    奧賣葛,對牛彈琴,斯之謂也 😹 Jul 25, 2021 at 10:41
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    @JerryRossignuolo I'm not sure which part of the answer really was an "opinion" - I'm merely informing any readers that come across your question, and your comments under the question, why information about detailed radical pronunciation or names may not be easily found, and colloquial names may not even exist. Simply put, radicals are of peripheral importance to the Chinese language (remember: this platform is Chinese language SE); they are part of an archaic character lookup system that nobody with a smartphone with handwriting recognition tools will use these days.
    – dROOOze
    Jul 25, 2021 at 12:33

There is a table of Kangxi radicals on Wikipedia:

No. Radical (variants) Stroke Count Meaning Pīnyīn
45 3 sprout chè
58 彐(彑) 3 snout
129 聿(⺺、⺻) 6 brush
159 7 cart chē

Those should be the four you asked about above.

Each of these radicals also have their own Wiki page.

Radical 58 or radical snout (彐部)

Chinese name(s):
雪字底 xuězìdǐ
尋字頭/寻字头 xúnzìtóu

Radical 159 or radical cart (車部)

Chinese name(s):
(Left) 車字旁/车字旁 chēzìpáng
(Bottom) 車字底/车字底 chēzìdǐ

Radical 45 or radical sprout (屮部) doesn't have a listed Chinese name.

Radical 129 or radical brush (聿部), likewise, also does not have a listed Chinese name.

But, obviously, you can add 字旁、字头、字底, on the end of anything to talk of its radical.

  • Thank you for this feedback. I am close to throwing in the towel and might make my own stab at naming them. I would go with something very similar to what you are saying. GF0014-2009 makes an effort to standardize the BuShou naming, although I am thinking GF0014-2009 is not recognized by most people outside of academia. Still it is a little elucidating and interesting in its effort. Along with 字旁、字头、and 字底, GF0014-2009 mentions appending 字框,字边,字心,字腰,字鱼 (左鱼,右鱼,下鱼), and 省 in various circumstances. Jul 25, 2021 at 11:05
  • Thanks Mou. I need to articulate that a little better. I agree with you and have been thinking of doing exactly what you are saying, although I have been hoping for a decent authoritative reference on this - which is hard to find since you can't easily write these. Jul 25, 2021 at 11:18
  • @JerryRossignuolo 屮字旁 and 聿字旁 are acceptable terms for sure. You can look them up to confirm. They just aren't in mainstream usage because their use is so limited.
    – Mou某
    Jul 25, 2021 at 12:10

I am Chinese. I remember in primary school teachers just mentioned pronunciations of some important 部首, for example:

  1. 单人旁 亻
  2. 三点水 氵
  3. 两点水 冫
  4. 竖心旁 忄
  5. 宝盖儿 or 宝盖头 宀
  6. 秃宝盖 冖
  7. 言字旁 讠

Here is the list of all official 部首: https://zh.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%B1%89%E5%AD%97%E9%83%A8%E9%A6%96%E8%A1%A8

I suggest you just concentrate on common and simple 部首 because they are important and anywhere.

In my opinion, I will identify [16] 𠘨 with 冂(同字框), [88] 冃 with 月(you can just call it 月 or 月字旁). If I were a Chinese primary school student, I would look up the dictionary in this way. However, I can not guarantee this absolutely works. If it doesn’t, try another way!

And for the last one [118] ⺪, I don’t think this bushou exists, according to the official list. Actually, every Chinese will associate this ⺪to the character 疏. Btw, I don’t know the bushou of 疏 until I search online. To my surprise, the bushou of this guy is 疋, whose prononciation and meaning are the same as the character 匹.

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