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Dictionary - Traditional Chinese Characters


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I'm presently learning to write chinese using traditional characters and now feel a real dictionary would be very useful. I started with pinyin and am very used to it. However, I realise now pinyin usually goes with simplified characters, not traditional. That said, i was wondering if you folks can recommend me a dictionary (chinese-english and vice versa) which uses traditional and pinyin. I'm aware simplified chinese dictionaries have traditional characters on the side, but I find those to be inconsistent.

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My favorite dictionary (and that of many learners of Chinese that I know) is without doubt "Chinese Characters: A Genealogy and Dictionary" (中文字譜:漢英字源字典), compiled by Rick Harbaugh. You can check it out at http://www.zhongwen.com, where there is also a link for purchase on Amazon. Before I bought it in the US, I checked in several of the larger cities in Mainland China but was unable to find it (maybe it's available in bookstores in Hong Kong?).

Entries can be looked up by pinyin, radical, or stroke count, and there is also a Zhuyin index. There is an English-Chinese dictionary, too. But I think the true strength of this dictionary is its organization of character trees---this not only lets you see the root of each character, but is a great tool for character memorization. Each entry has the simplified version of the character as well.

It takes a little bit of getting used to, especially if you use it in a classroom setting (or any setting where a speedy look-up is required), but once you do you'll be glad you tried it out. I sometimes find myself just browsing through it for the fun of it. Highly recommended. Hope this helps!

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  • 2 years later...

Far East publish some good traditional dictionaries



Far East Pinyin Chinese - English Dictionary 遠東拼音漢英辭典

Chinese - English, Traditional Characters, Pinyin. Ordered by Pinyin. (my favourite)

Far East 3000 Chinese Character Dictionary 遠東漢字三千字典

Traditional Characters, stroke order, Pinyin, Common words/phrases for each character. Ordered by Pinyin

(Good reference book for stroke order)

Far East Chinese - English Dictionary 遠東漢英大辭典

Chinese - English (the big blue one) Traditional Characters, Pinyin. Ordered by Radical.

Pinyin index in the back ( can be time consuming to look up lots of characters by radical)

Hope it helps


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Like Martinat50, my favorite and most often used dictionary is also Harbaugh's. I note however that the usefulness of the dictionary is dependent on a level of Chinese language knowledge. That is, when one looks at an unknown character, one must be able to guess roughly what it sounds like, in order to look it up. Otherwise, one must hit the radical index or worse the stroke index, and I believe Harbaugh's is not too user friendly on this front.

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