How are Chinese Dictionaries Organized

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Various dictionaries are the most important tool for language learners; it is the same with Chinese learning. For some Chinese learners, the question about how the dictionaries are organized is often asked. Generally, Chinese dictionaries are organized in three ways.
Various dictionaries are the most important tool for language learners; it is the same with Chinese learning. For some Chinese learners, the question about how the dictionaries are organized is often asked. Generally, Chinese dictionaries are organized in three ways.

First, in most of the dictionaries, the characters are arranged alphabetically according to their transliteration in Roman letters, e.g. 保is listed under "B" and 草under "C ". And all the words related each character is listed after each character entry. If you have already known the pronunciation of a character, you will it easy to use such kind of dictionary. One of these might be a simple stroke count index. The user can count the number of strokes in the character and then look at a list of characters with that number of strokes.

Second, the most common method for organizing characters is through "radical" or 部首in which the Chinese characters are arranged first according to one key part (部首)of the character, and then according to the number of strokes in the rest of the character . When using such kind of dictionary, the user must be familiar with the 部首. In a case when a character contains more than one 部首they must also guess under which one the character is classified. For instance,问is listed under 门not 口,though both parts of this character are 部首.

Third, Chinese Character Genealogy has its own unique method of organizing the characters that generalizes and systematizes the 部首system . Rather than arbitrarily listing the characters under one component, characters are listed under every different component in a series of tree-like charts or "字谱"which show the derivation of the characters from each other . There are about 200 of these trees, each starting with one of the original pictographs or ideographs (文)identified in the classic dictionary 说文解字.The name of Chinese Character Genealogy ,中文字谱, refers to this system of creating字谱based on the 文.
 

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