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Chinese "most commonly used" han zi


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due to chinese relying on the variety of characters, there is no such lists which set limits to how many characters can be "normally" used...

all over the web there are frequency lists for characters,

lists of characters by grade,

HSK test lists by level

and so on

otherwise it all depends on how much you aim to know.. 2000, 3000 or more... just get started on the more frequent ones.

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is there an equivelent in chinese to the japanese jouyou kanji 常用漢字
Not that I know of but the following quote seems to be the general consensus:

"children are taught 2,500 in elementary school and an additional 1,000 in middle school. A person with a college education might know 5,000. Frequency counts show that knowing the 2,500 most frequent characters suffices to recognize 99% of those that one comes across (in newspapers and non-specialist literature)."

(Quoted from: http://kamares.ucsd.edu/~arobert/chineseCharacters.html )

Your next task would be to find out the list of those 2,500 characters that elementary school children learn.

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Somewhere, I have a list of all the characters you are expected to know for each level of the HSK. That should be as close to a list of "changyong hanzi" as you'll get.

If you go over to http://www.zhongwen.com/ and click on "Vocab" then "Frequency of Chinese Characters", you'll get an ordered list of the 2000 most-used characters on Chinese Usenet groups in 1993 and 1994. It may be slightly biased towards internet terms, but it's still quite useful.

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  • 3 years later...

Forgive me if someone has already addressed this.

The Japanese released a list of the 1945 most common kanji, called the joyo kanji. It's available in poster/wall chart form.

Is there something similar in available in chinese? A sort of "quick reference" poster of common characters? I've seen a lot of digital lists and, of course, there's plenty of flash card programs, but something like this would be pretty handy. Would I just be better off buying an English-Chinese dictionary; if so any suggestions on brand?

I am learning simplified Mandarin, at the beginning level (i.e. just started rosetta stone) and I'm looking for something to provide a quick, non-digital reference and vocabulary builder since my computer access is pretty limited sometimes.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Note that the characters in jōyō kanji aren't the most common. It's just a list of common characters. IMO such a list restricts one's literacy but...

Attached is a list that I made of 2700 characters roughly in order of frequency, in 2 pages, 1350 characters per page, using a PRC standard typeface too! I'm so nice...

Oh, I recommend you print it if you don't like electronic documents.

Ahh...some characters like 眞 (supposed to be 真) weren't Simplified by Google Translate, so I guess you have to beware of them.


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  • 2 weeks later...

I used an xls downloaded from someone else in this forum and cut out a lot of the extra info.

Then I created a word doc and plugged in the hanzi. I have roughly the first 150 set up. You'll have to go down in the "B" cell in the "2220merged.xls" file and delete the "T(blah)" info if you just want simplified.

I have also attached the first 3 word docs, it's not exaclty 150 but it's pretty close. I don't have a blank template for the .doc chart but I'm sure you could just make one using one of these word docs, they print out pretty nice. Let me know what you guys think.


2200 merged.xls




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In 1988, the Chinese National Language Committee (国家语委) actually published the two lists with the 2500 常用字 and 1000 次常用字 that Hashirikata mentioned. The list (现代汉语常用字表) can be found online here .

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