In the 舌 radical the first stroke is right to left but inside 舒 it is left to right. Why?

I know some characters where the stroke order changes when it is a radical (e.g. the 牛 in 物) but I haven't encountered a case so far where the stroke direction changes.

Does this happen for other characters too?

2 Answers 2


I think you are making something wrong. In Chinese characters, there are many different kinds of strokes 横(一)、竖(丨)、撇(丿)、点(丶)、捺(㇏)、折(亅). Directions are only one of the differences. If you only cares about its directions, you cannot write the strokes properly.

In the ancient China, people use ink brushes instead of pens or pencils, and ink brushes are more easily to express the strengths when writing (notice the difference in width of different part in a stroke).

The phenomenon you have mentioned is not the change of direction, but change of strokes instead. In 舌->舒, 撇 turns to 横, while in 牛->物, 横 turns to 提(㇀).

Reference: http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%AC%94%E7%94%BB

  • Thanks, I understand now. Are there other radicals where this happens too? May 9, 2014 at 14:05
  • @RomanReiner I am not familiar with that.
    – zsf222
    May 11, 2014 at 11:06
  • There are a few that I know of: 车 -> 辆, 子 -> 孩, 王 -> 班 when used as a radical all change from a 横 to a 提, while 米 -> 糊, 禾 -> 种 shorten the last 捺. The reason this happens, as far as I am aware, is to prepare the position of the brush/pen for the next stroke, or leave enough space for the next portion of the character.
    – Ming
    May 12, 2014 at 0:51
  • 1
    Also, several characters can change radically (lol) when turned into a radical, such as: 水 -> 氵, 示 -> 礻, 衣 -> 衤, just to name a few.
    – Ming
    May 12, 2014 at 0:59

As a matter of fact, stroke direction changes don't happen that much. In this particular case,舌(she2) is borrowed only for sound in the character 舍(she4), which means house (there is a roof radical on top). In Chinese, around 80% of the characters are the composition of picture + sound (because there are not that many pictographs to represent everything, therefore sounds of the most basic radicals are borrowed as parts or radicals of other more complicated characters).

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