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Friday

Books for learning the radicals

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Friday

I have a book by Zhang Pengpeng called "The Most Common Chinese Radicals" from the New Approaches to Learning Chinese series. By my estimate, it includes about 140 radicals. It seems to be a good introduction, and has some useful pictures of the ancient form and explanation for why it is written as it is, based on the etymology or the radical, but I want to learn all of the remaining radicals or other reoccurring components found within characters.

How many radical or components are there in total? Is there a book (available on the mainland) for studying the rest?

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Friday

That Web site has 214 radicals. Is that all of them? Are there other components of characters that are not called radicals, but perhaps appear as part of various characters?

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Olle Linge
That Web site has 214 radicals. Is that all of them?

Yes, that's all of the so-called Kangxi radicals.

Are there other components of characters that are not called radicals, but perhaps appear as part of various characters?

Many hundreds! These will be trickier to find comprehensive lists of, but my suggestion is to use Zhongwen.com to look up those parts you come across often. Sometimes they are radicals, sometimes they are characters in themselves, sometimes something else. :)

Also see my article about character components.

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Gharial

The 214 Kangxi* radicals are still the de facto standard in modern dictionaries dealing with traditional/unsimplified characters. For simplified characters however, "new", somewhat reduced radical lists were developed (simplified characters don't need quite so many radicals to look them up, and important and still-used traditional radical-characters meanwhile can quite easily be assigned to whatever alternative radicals may form part of them), with the CASS (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences) 189 becoming about the most influential and widely-used** (give or take a small number of items sometimes). You can learn a lot about the CASS 189 radicals from the gifs and notes I've posted in a thread entitled 'Guide to Simplified Radicals' (here: http://www.chinese-f...ified-radicals/ ), which for the sake of completeness also lists any remaining Kangxi radicals (i.e. those that aren't already among the CASS 189), and has a brief mention of the Zhang Pengpeng book.

There are other radicals and radical lists to be sure - the 540 of the ancient Shuowen Jiezi, the 201 of the quite recent Unified scheme, etc, but none have been as widely used (in certainly the modern era) as the Kangxi or the CASS.

Regarding the 'other components of characters that are not called radicals, but perhaps appear as part of various characters', there are as many resources as there are slightly differing takes and approaches. Other than Harbaugh's aforementioned http://zhongwen.com (which I wholeheartedly second), off the top of my head another online resource that provides structural-"etymological" decompositions is yellowbridge ( http://www.yellowbri...=1&zi=%E5%9C%8B ) , though Harbaugh's work is probably the better for getting an overview of the phonetic*** components of characters (as is http://smarthanzi.net ). I have also used the book Kanji ABC with profit (for its simple and direct 'grapheme'-based approach) - online version of sorts here: http://www.kanjiabc.net/index.cgi . The interesting thing about Harbaugh (though it's more obvious in his book than in the online version, as the book explicitly uses his 182 字谱 elements as its primary means of indexing and entry) is that (paraphrasing here!) those 182 elements "generalize and extend the radical system to all components whether semantic or phonetic", thus allowing the user more means of looking up and learning the characters than in conventional, "semantically-indexed" Chinese dictionaries (not that most modern conventional dictionaries, especially those published in the West, don't order their actual entries in Pinyin alphabetical order).

*A famous dictionary dating from 1716.

**For example, even the innovative original ABC C-E Dictionary opted to use the CASS 189 system for its radical index. (Subsequent ABC dictionaries, namely the C-E Comprehensive and the ECCE, have however chosen to use the Kangxi radicals as their primary means of character indexing, whilst allowing for the easy look-up of simplified as well as traditional forms thanks to excellent indexes and features such as the CRC [Comprehensive Radical Chart] - see the review I wrote of the ECCE, sublinked to in the 'Guide to Simplified Radicals' thread/link I mentioned earlier).

***A thread on the "system" of written Chinese (i.e. what its principles are, how it works): http://www.chinese-f...post__p__251653

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