Updated: Simplified Chinese Radicals Printable Pocket Reference

Hi all,

Version 2 of the Simplified Chinese Radicals Printable Pocket Reference is ready!

Updated - Simplified Chinese Radicals printable pocket reference

I’d originally planned not to include any phonetic information on the page, however, I figured that most of the radicals are sort of picto-phonograms, with one part representing meaning, and one part being the phonetic. Therefore knowing the radicals phonetics can also be useful in guessing not only the meaning of the character, but also the pronunciation – for example, in the character 媽, knowing that 女 is a woman helps you guess the meaning, and if you know that 马 is pronounced “mǎ”, you can have a go at the pronunciation, too.

Things to note:

  • The list is aimed at simplified learners, and is based on the CASS simplified radicals list. Some of the reduntant KangXi radicals are not present, such as 龜 and some others have been added, such as 其 and 业.
  • The main list of larger radicals are the more common ones.
  • Below the main list is a short list of characters which are not technically radicals, but are used as such as probably should/could be
  • The less frequently seen radicals, along with single stroke radicals, are located at the bottom of the sheet. They are less important because, for example, you aren’t going to find a lot of characters with the radical 赤

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Once again, any feedback is welcomed and appreciated, we want to make this the most useful Simplified Chinese radicals list available.

6 responses to “Updated: Simplified Chinese Radicals Printable Pocket Reference

  1. I think you have the makings of a snazzy if not good product here, but IMHO:

    1) it would be better, seeing as this claims to be first and foremost a simplified chart, if the simplified forms and/or more common variants were printed in black, and the less common and/or complex-traditional printed in grey. (Obviously ‘common’ ultimately depends on the font set you are assuming your learners will encounter most).

    2) there really ought to be a system of ordering by stroke count, and initial and then recursive application of stroke count e.g. the 札 zha2 method as used in the ABC dictionaries’ “Comprehensive Radical Chart”. This would aid in scanning the chart and to its value when e.g. adapting it for use with any dictionary (users could add appropriate page numbers etc from their chosen dictionary to the chart). As it is, there doesn’t even seem to be any sort by stroke count, let alone by stroke type, in the chart. At a minimum, stroke count numbers should be provided for trickier items.

    3) there are no asterisks to indicate particularly frequent radicals, despite this being a claimed feature (on an earlier page).

    4) some of the chosen font is non-standard. For example, the top of number 133, with its right-facing”inner box”, is old-style font (which will add one to the stroke count, from 9 to 10), while the base is non-standard; number 134 is also a 10 rather than a 9-stroke font. Then, 173 is not representative of how this radical really looks.

    5) certain pairings of forms may be held true in the Kangxi system, but do not hold any longer in most simplified dictionaries (i.e. those based on the CASS scheme). For example, although the items at number 66 may both be found under Kangxi radical number 66, in the CASS system they are completely separate radicals (89 and 99), as 攴 is virtually unused and not the canonical/entry-point form at all. (This point leads back to 1 above). There may however be some “simplified” (though ultimately non-CASS) dictionaries that continue with such quaint oddities (the Macmillan-FLTRP CCD is one).

    6) some of the “characters which are not technically radicals, but are used as such as probably should/could be” are questionable. For example, why is 云 been elevated to radicalhood? A glance in e.g. Harbaugh’s Chinese Characters shows that this is a component that only enters into 7 characters beyond it, and no other dictionary (and not even Harbaugh’s) actually lists it as a radical or deep genealogical root.

    7) ultimately I think it would’ve been better to take an actual bestselling simplified dictionary or two and work on the basis of actual extent lists of radicals than to start inventing a partially new system without any actual dictionary embodying it. That is, the crossover potential of the chart isn’t as high as it could be.

  2. Oops, re. my point 2), there is stroke-count ordering going on, but it’s broken up between the 3 blocks of commoner, midway~non-radicals, and less common radicals, so like I say in 3), assign asterisks to indicate frequency and then merge the 3 categories into 1. Simples!

  3. Sorry for 3rd straight reply in a row, but spotted a few too many errors and typos in my first post (wish I could edit it!). The most “serious” are in point 2), which should just read:

    2) the ordering by stroke count should be applied consistently across the entire number of radicals, and it would help if they were also subordered by the initial and then recursive application of stroke type e.g. the 札 zha2 method as used in the ABC dictionaries’ “Comprehensive Radical Chart”. This would aid in scanning the chart and to its value when e.g. adapting it for use with any dictionary (users could add appropriate page numbers etc from their chosen dictionary to the chart).

    Then, 7) overuses the word ‘actual’ 3 times, and ‘extent’ should’ve been ‘extant’ or better still ‘existing’:

    7) ultimately I think it would’ve been better to take a bestselling simplified dictionary or two and work on the basis of existing lists of radicals than to start inventing a partially new system without any actual dictionary embodying it. That is, the crossover potential of the chart isn’t as high as it could be.

    I’ll get my coat now… 😉

  4. Cheers Gharial. Yes, I’d like to tidy it up a bit. The order and splitting up by stroke count for sure, and getting the pinyin in-line would be nice. It’s just such a pain trying to squeeze it all on to one page.

    It’s hard knowing how far to take the thing, originally I wanted to remove some radicals because they weren’t really common, and then I thought, actually maybe I should keep them in for completeness sake. Then I thought, actually there are other “elements” that pop up quite a lot, like 云, so maybe adding a few of these in as well would be useful for beginners.

    I think what I’ll end up doing next time is either not bother splitting up the more frequent and less frequent ones, and just remove the extra ones like 云. Or, do my own “essential elements” list and avoid the word “radical” completely.

  5. Ooh, hiya Chris. I can see how it’s hard to cram everything onto one page (I can only guess how long you’ve spent on the design aspects so far!), and the division into larger, more frequent and smaller, less frequent sections does make sense in that regard. As an ongoing longer-term reference for actually looking up radicals (rather than just learning them in the short term) however, such a division seems less useful. The solution I’d personally incline to would be to make the radical~element chart graphics only, and put all the meanings, pronunciations and notes on a separate but “matching” page that could be laid under the graphics chart and flipped between (forming a means for testing recall, for those who want to…and most probably would!). What do you reckon?

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