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IceEagle

How to look up hanzi

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IceEagle

If it comes with pinyin, then I can look up the character pretty easily. Likewise if I know the character's pronunciation but have forgotten its meaning. If I remember the meaning but forget the pronunciation, I can look up english words with similar meanings in an english-chinese dictionary to search for the character.

If it's a multi-character word that I don't recognize but it's made out of characters that I do recognize, I can still look up the word pretty easily. (E.g. 马上 or 要不然 or 难得 or 经过 or 马克 - often in this case I can correctly guess the meaning of the word from context anyways, but sometimes the meaning is not so obvious.)

If it's on a computer (in a form that I can copy and paste), then I can look up the character directly without needing to know how to write it or pronounce it or look for its meaning.

For totally unrecognized and unrecognizable characters, I can resort to stroke counts and radical lookup. This method is slow and difficult (at least for a beginner like me), but at least it is good practice for learning how to use a chinese character dictionary.

However, there are times where I see a character (e.g. 提 or 鸭) and recognize that it's made up of two characters that I do know (大 and 是 in 提) or at least contains one character that I recognize (鸟 in 鸭)。 Even though I recognize some or even all the parts of a character, that's not enough to always tell me the meaning or the pronunciation of that character.

While I can use stroke counts or radical lookup, I was wondering if there was an easier method, one that could take advantage of the fact that I can recognize the parts of the character. E.g. I could enter (for example) 女 and 马 to get 妈 or 日 and 月 to get 明.

One option I had thought about was learning the Cangjie or Wubizixing input methods, since I only need to know what a character looks like to input it into the computer. These have sharp learning curves, though.

I've also tried using input methods where one writes the character directly by using a mouse pointer (or if you're lucky a graphics tablet), but I've found that these tend to rely on correct stroke order and neat handwriting. I have neither.

Have I missed anything? Is there an easier way to look up characters if I know the components, or have I already found all the possible methods?

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chaiknees
I've also tried using input methods where one writes the character directly by using a mouse pointer (or if you're lucky a graphics tablet), but I've found that these tend to rely on correct stroke order and neat handwriting. I have neither.

nciku is quite forgiving even if the stroke order is not correct.

While I can use stroke counts or radical lookup, I was wondering if there was an easier method, one that could take advantage of the fact that I can recognize the parts of the character. E.g. I could enter (for example) 女 and 马 to get 妈 or 日 and 月 to get 明.

http://chinese-characters.org/ allows you to search by (single) components. Then you can click on "Contained in" and find a list of other characters which use that component.

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jbradfor

I was going to recommend that site as well.

recognize that it's made up of two characters that I do know (大 and 是 in 提)

This might be the flaw in your plan, however. The left side of 提 is not 大, it is 手. So you'll still need to learn your radicals.

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jbradfor

OMG! This is now officially my new favorite website.

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Daan

That website is great! Thanks for sharing that link!

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IceEagle

This might be the flaw in your plan, however. The left side of 提 is not 大, it is 手. So you'll still need to learn your radicals.

Yes, definitely. (Perhaps this is an important reason why I have so much trouble looking up characters by radical.)

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