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mnanon
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What book would you recommend for learning Chinese characters? (Simplified)

I am trying to find a book that has for each character,

(1)stroke order, (2)the meaning by itself, (3) how it can be combined with other characters to obtain a 'new' meaning, and (4) sentence examples of the various meanings.

What book would you recommend that has all four parts? There are not many books here locally so I have to source online and I am not always able to look through the various books.

Thank you for your help.

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Hello, I understand what Iriya means but i also think there is some benift to learning characters. Most good books teach you the characters on there own and as parts of words.

I would recommend the Tuttle range of books. The 2 book series called 250 essential Chinese Characters for every day use is very good. They cover 500 characters between them and give all the information the OP asked for. I think they are available on Amazon. They also do a practice pad A chinese Character a day that follows the books. They also do many other good books including a very good learners dictionary.

Do a search for Tuttle books and I am sure you will find them all.

Good luck

Shelley

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Edit: The Macmillan-FLTRP CCD could be just what the OP is looking for! :wink::)

http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/35884-review-macmillan-fltrp-chinese-character-dictionary-cd-rom/page__fromsearch__1

McNaughton's Reading & Writing Chinese will teach you the essentials of stroke order, core meaning, and basic compounds for over 2000 characters, and the Simplified edition at least shows what the traditional form looks like (I don't think there is space for traditional stroke order diagrams though - which is why I usually recommend that people get the Traditional version instead, as the simplified stroke orders are usually easier to work out unaided). The space that these sorts of books devote to stroke-order diagrams does however mean that the compounds and especially example sentences are quite limited or even non-existent (I don't recall seeing example sentences in the McNaughton), or that to provide them the work has to become split over several volumes that each deal with a more limited number of characters, which obviously adds to the expense. You'll probably therefore have to invest in at least two resources - something like McNaughton for stroke-order guidance, and an actual dictionary for enough compounds and example sentences (and about the most useful nowadays is probably the ABC ECCE - see the detailed review I wrote: http://www.chinese-f...post__p__237924 - though not everybody appreciates its ordering of compound entries by full Pinyin string [very handy for aural look-up!] regardless of initial character, as opposed to the usual dictionary practice of placing compounds with the same first character under a single entry headed by that character).

One other resource I like to mention is the Character Text for the original (T'ung & Pollard) Colloquial Chinese course - although again sold in Simplified (red) versus Traditional (blue) versions, each provides full stroke orders for the other variety, and in neat true-size ballpen handwriting rather than in machine font or brush calligraphy; then, there are more examples than you can shake a stick at, what with the texts reproducing the dialogues and sentence patterns of the course itself. The indexing though is by Pinyin look-up, which assumes you will already know the pronunciation of the item(s) that you're looking for.

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Learn radicals first. You can try Zhang Pengpeng's "The Most Common Chinese Radicals" from Sinolingua. Then try going on to the Tuttle series. The Tuttle series may be what you were asking for. Or if you can manage to buy a copy of the "Character Writing Workboo" from the Yale University Encounters series. I was able to get a free exam copy as a teacher and they really try to show how each character evolved into what it is now.

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Which printed dictionaries would you recommend that include stroke order(diagram)s, Imron? I don't know offhand of any in Chinese, only Japanese (e.g. the Kenkyusha/NTC New Japanese-English Character Dictionary, which doesn't have space to cover more than the most frequent 3,000 or so characters). Edit: Good news - the relatively recent Macmillan-FLTRP CCD, which I've already mentioned above (by way of a link to a review I wrote), has stroke-order diagrams for each and every one of the 3,000 characters it contains.

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Which printed dictionaries would you recommend that include stroke order(diagram)s, Imron? I don't know offhand of any in Chinese, only Japanese (e.g. the Kenkyusha/NTC New Japanese-English Character Dictionary, which doesn't have space to cover more than the most frequent 3,000 or so characters).

I am no Imron, obviously. But you might with to take a look at this publication of the Taiwan MOE. Print it out and you will have a printed list. There are 4048 characters inside, not a lot. But in my opinion there is no need for a dictionary to list the stroke order of each and every character because there are basic rules that one can follow (take a look at the 筆順基本法則說明).

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@Iriya: Wenlin is a great resource for sure, but it isn't a book, and it's quite expensive.

@Skylee: Thanks for the link, though I really will need to tinker with the language packs I've (apparently not yet) enabled on my PC, as what should be almost every clickable character is displaying as a Unicode square thingy on my screen. I'm not sure how useful the stroke diagrams will ultimately be to learners of non-Taiwanese and/or modern Chinese however (e.g. 艾 ai4 is given as having six strokes rather than five, due to the grass radical being given as having 4 strokes [i.e. in an obselete or non-standard font] rather than 3, to say nothing of the fact that one has to remember that the prototypical form of the grass radical in the Kangxi system is composed of and listed among the six-stroke radicals! http://www.edu.tw/fi...uen/bi.htm?open > http://www.edu.tw/fi...shuen/p147a.htm etc). But I agree with you when you say that "there is no need for a dictionary to list the stroke order of each and every character because there are basic rules that one can follow", to which I'd add that in terms of not only character look-up but also writing whole characters, it is really only the radical and residue initial stroke types that matter, and one can learn a lot from understanding just them, especially how in good dictionaries this initial stroke type rule-system is recursively applied throughout the whole radicals then residues, a fact which should help resolve any questions of stroke order for the whole of each and every character listed and thus subarranged, without the need for any explicit diagrammatic breakdown (or, the learner can whenever possible try looking up the separate components of a character, if in real doubt about any of their stroke orders). There's more about these initial stroke type rules here, for those who may not be aware of or already read about 'em: http://www.chinese-f...a-crash-course/

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I'm not sure how useful the stroke diagrams will ultimately be to learners of non-Taiwanese and/or modern Chinese however (e.g. 艾 ai4 is given as having six strokes rather than five, due to the grass radical being given as having 4 strokes [i.e. in an obselete or non-standard font] rather than 3, to say nothing of the fact that one has to remember that the prototypical form of the grass radical in the Kangxi system is composed of and listed among the six-stroke radicals! http://www.edu.tw/fi...uen/bi.htm?open > http://www.edu.tw/fi...shuen/p147a.htm etc).

Well I know very little about the Kangxi system. But AFAIK that is the standard in Taiwan and if you want to input the word 艾 in a cell phone using the stroke order input method of traditional Chinese (it looks like you don't need to do such things) in this part of the world that is how you input it. But of course you are entitled to your opinion if you think the font is obsolete and non-standard.

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Heh, when I said obsolete/non-standard font Skylee, I wasn't expressing my personal opinion but rather simply recalling what a number of reference works say, including the ABC ECCE Dictionary (its C-E Appendix VIII, 'Standard and Variant Character Forms'), Yin & Rohsenhow's Modern Chinese Characters (chapter 3.3), and the Xinhua's 新旧字形对照表. Still, it's just occured to me that I should've checked in my Far East (a dictionary produced in Taiwan), in which I now see that 艾 is indeed given in its total stroke count index as being composed of six rather than five strokes (even though there is no discernible difference between any of its forms supplied in the dictionary as a whole!). Anyway, it'd be interesting to know if this stroke-order difference is also in the 笔顺编号 (discussed here: http://languagelog.l...edu/nll/?p=3533 ) used in Taiwanese (and HK?) versus mainland mobiles, assuming of course that anyone really uses that method to input characters!

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assuming of course that anyone really uses that method to input characters!

Of course there are people who use this method. How do you think I learnt that that is the standard to follow? Not everyone uses zhuyin / romanisation input methods, and not everyone has a smartphone that supports handwriting input. Many people who use non-smart phones (like some older Nokia models), the traditional script and do not really speak Mandarin (like many people in HK) still input characters based on stroke order.

That is the Taiwan standard, which is more widespread, because more people follow it (e.g. Taiwan students are taught to write that way) and there are more computer programmes based on it, than the HK "standard" (see here) which is not 100% the same. The differences include the stroke order of the grass radical, and such things as 着 / 著 (AFAIK the different usage of these two words are no longer recognised in Taiwan and the font 着 is not used there), etc.

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I was sort of only joking about people not using the method (re. Language Log's obviously "exaggerating" lone example of 靐 = 145244442512114524444251211452444425121 :D ). Plus I don't have a phone with a Chinese app, hence my somewhat silly ramblings and questions, Skylee! Sorry about that. :wink: Anyway, thanks for the HK-based link, looks useful! :)

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