Questions tagged [characters]

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

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32
votes
10answers
3k 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 ...
24
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15answers
4k 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 ...
13
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3answers
794 views

Why is 月 used when speaking about anatomy?

One thing I've been curious about while learning Chinese is the use of 月 in many 汉字 representing anatomical features (for example, 脸, 腰, or 腿). What is the etymology of the use of 月 as a radical?
16
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3answers
4k views

Characters which have several different shapes

For those who might not read the question fully: this not about simplified vs traditional characters. While the traditional and simplified version of a character can be considered the same, they at ...
12
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3answers
2k 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 ...
11
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6answers
5k 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 ...
4
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3answers
1k 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 ...
6
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1answer
485 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 ...
43
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9answers
17k 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 ...
25
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5answers
7k 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 radical, ...
24
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4answers
2k 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 《出师表》, ...
4
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6answers
664 views

Why use combined characters that have the same meaning?

(rèn shí ) both characters means ( to know)and when combined it still have the same meaning. So why can't I use only one of them ?
10
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3answers
2k 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 ...
3
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1answer
147 views

How to determine if character can be used separetely?

This question might be weird, but I haven't been able to find an answer to this. Some characters seem to be used only in combination with other characters. For instance, I believe 儿 cannot be used ...
15
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2answers
934 views

Are 乒 and 乓 used in classical chinese?

乒乓 is the modern word for ping pong, based around onomatopoeia (and similarity to 兵 for phonetic element) and, as some people claim, shape. I was wondering if this shape explanation is true, or little ...
4
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2answers
231 views

Help please me find out what this means

I’m looking to find out what this means. Please help was handed down to me from my family
-1
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2answers
117 views

Need Help Editing (需要帮助的编辑)

Is anyone willing to help me edit this monologue for grammatical errors? If so, I would really appreciate it. I have also included the pinyin in case it helps to understand what I meant. I have chosen ...
33
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11answers
5k views

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

Main Question: What is the glyph origin 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 Q&A-...
36
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9answers
3k views

Can Chinese readers scan large amounts of text faster/more accurately than their alphabet-using counterparts?

I was browsing one day and came across this comment in this discussion(italics mine): I feel English is a reading language, if you are reading an English book, you watch the word and make sound in ...
26
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5answers
2k 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. ...
29
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9answers
5k 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
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5answers
13k views

How to look up seal script characters?

When we know a modern Hanzi, finding its seal script equivalent in a dictionary is not a problem. However, a more common case is that we have an existing seal script character we cannot identify, and ...
12
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4answers
2k views

List of hanzi and their components

I would like to be able to compute the distance between 2 hanzi according to their components. My idea is that a hanzi like 式 is made of 工 and 弋. 2 hanzi are close if they share common components. ...
21
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4answers
2k 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?
14
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1answer
291 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 ...
7
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4answers
400 views

Is there an authoritative list of most frequent to most infrequent pronunciations for individual Chinese characters?

I'm working on a dictionary tool that provides, as an auto-assist, transcription of Chinese characters into corresponding (Modern Standard Mandarin) pinyin+tones on a naive, character-per-character ...
5
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3answers
1k 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 ...
15
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6answers
11k 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 ...
14
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3answers
1k views

Is there a difference between 夂 and 夊?

Looking at the list of Kangxi radicals over at Wikipedia, I just noticed something I haven't noticed before. Radical number 34 (夂) and 35 (夊) are virtually identical. I write these radicals in the ...
12
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6answers
1k views

What is the glyph origin of '奇'?

Lost Glyph Origin 奇 ( jī | qí ) is a character that means strange but the glyph origin appears to have been lost. At least as far as I can tell after researching offline books, zhongwen.com, and ...
10
votes
1answer
325 views

HSK and most used Chinese characters

I have been wondering how come the HSK list be so diferent from the list of the most used Chinese characters. The only list I know about character frequency is Jun Da's list. On the first 2635 most ...
10
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
8
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5answers
1k 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 can'...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

How many Chinese characters have multiple readings/pronunciations in Mandarin?

I'm wondering how many Chinese characters have more than one pronunciation in Mandarin. I understand this could be a difference in tone, initial, final, or some combination of these. Has anyone come ...
19
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12answers
3k views

Why do native speakers often say a character has “no meaning”?

Many times I will know all the characters in a name but one & I'll ask what that one character means. 9 times out of 10 the response is, "That character has no meaning". While it might be true ...
11
votes
1answer
395 views

How to differentiate “radical plus 0 strokes” characters?

There are (at least) six characters that consist of radical 102 plus 0 strokes: 田 由 甲 申 甴 电 In each of the variants the middle vertical stroke is made shorter, longer or twisted at the end. Is there ...
9
votes
3answers
624 views

Two-character homonyms with same meaning

This is question about synonymous homonyms in Chinese, in particular, two-character words with same sound, tone. Edit: to keep the question simple and broad, I am using the word "homonym" in a non-...
8
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4answers
2k views

Origin of beautiful kingdom and hero kingdom

Why in Mandarin chinese, USA is beautiful kingdom and England is hero kingdom?
7
votes
3answers
324 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?
7
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1answer
356 views

What is the story or reason of how 龙 came from 龍?

I'm just beginning to learn Mandarin and I have an excellent teacher. She tells me a lot of stories of how the characters came to be. Today we talked about the character for dragon, but she doesn't ...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

When to use 想 versus 喜欢?

Could someone please give we a hint when to use either of those?! My take is that 想 is used for actions and 喜欢 for things!? Am I right?
3
votes
4answers
593 views

What percentage of Chinese words are 1-character ? … 2-character?

Within an average Chinese person's vocabulary ... (which may be ~ 30,000 (?) words, but this number isn't important) could you guess what percentage of the words are 1-character, and what ...
3
votes
2answers
369 views

Hanzi Underline Rules?

Hanzi has some underlining when dealing with foreign names, etc. What are the rules regarding Hanzi underlining? edit: Would I underline 中国 in a text that includes underlining?
3
votes
1answer
333 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?
3
votes
1answer
303 views

What's the differece between 朘 (U+6718) and 脧 (U+8127)?

What's the differece between 朘 (U+6718) and 脧 (U+8127)? They seem to be interchangeable. (They display almost identically here for me). Zisea displays 6718 as 月: and 8127 as 肉: Pleco put's it ...
3
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1answer
324 views

Ancient forms of characters

According to Wiktionary, "This character, 朙, is an ancient form of 明". I'd like to know what exactly ancient forms are and their current role in the language together with some academic reference, as ...
2
votes
2answers
285 views

What would a non-binary tā (他/她) look like?

He and she in Mandarin looks like this: Male tā: 他 Female tā: 她 What would a non-binary tā look like? 也? 它 is for animals and inanimate objects, not exactly fitting. 祂 is for gods, not really ...
2
votes
3answers
242 views

why is ‘fruit’ referred to as 水果 if 果 already means fruit?

i’m trying to learn chinese again for the first time after a very long time and i’m just looking at meanings of words to see what individual characters of certain words mean (like 饭 is rice and 店 is ...
2
votes
3answers
529 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
80 views

What words exist that come from deconstructed characters?

Page 178 of《成都话方言词典》has the following entry: 丘八儿 qiū bér [tɕ‘iəu⁵⁵ pər²¹] 丘八, 旧时称军人。因“丘”加“八”为“兵”而得名(含贬义)。 丘八 is a deconstruction of the character 兵. What words exist that come from ...