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Guest MestariTomte

Where to find the very basic characters

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Guest MestariTomte

Can somebody point to some reference where I can find those basic Chinese characters. And by basic characters I mean the ones that can't be divided to two or more characters ie. the ones to which all characters derive (like man, mouth, etc.)

Oh, and when was the last basic character invented? I want to know what things were considered most important back then - important to have a character of their own, that is.

ps

I didn't feel like making a post of it own so I'll ask it here: what does qì mean in "duì bù qì", sorry, excuse me.

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geek_frappa

good questions. first answers (maybe partically correct; i'm only a 3rd year student).

dui4 bu4 qi3 ... means "i cannot face you" ...

there is cultural context behind this expression (saving face is everything)

grammarically, "dui bu qi" is a resultative verb compound (RVC).

you face (dui) the person, but cannot raise (qi) your head to look at them in the whites of their eyes. :oops:

NOTE: qi is the same qi in qi lai "rise up" (first words to China National Song).

similarly RVCs....

mai3 bu4 qi3 ... means "cannot afford [it]"

ting1 bu4 dong3 ... means "cannot [audibly] understand"

.. anyone please feel free to correct me. ^_^ ... on to your 2nd question...

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geek_frappa
Can somebody point to some reference where I can find those basic Chinese characters. And by basic characters I mean the ones that can't be divided to two or more characters ie. the ones to which all characters derive (like man' date=' mouth, etc.)

Oh, and when was the last [i']basic character[/i] invented? I want to know what things were considered most important back then - important to have a character of their own, that is.

basic characters? i think you are looking for what are called "chinese radicals". i have poster on my wall with all the fundamental components of all more complicated characters. would you like something like that?

if so, maybe you can start here:

http://www.chinaknowledge.de/Literature/radicals.htm

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Tsunku

If you have a Chinese-English dictionary it should have a radical index. Mine lists 188 distinct radicals.

I don't really know if it's possible to pinpoint exactly when certain characters were "invented." The current writing system evolved and took shape over time.

Geek_frappa did a good job of explaining dui bu qi. This grammar structure is really common in Chinese. It indicates the action could not be completed. More examples: zhao bu dao, (could not find. zhao is to look for, dao is arrive)chi bu bao (could not get enough to eat. chi is to eat, bao is full), ting bu dong (could not understand. ting is to hear, dong is understand). The positive form uses de 得 in the place of 不. In this structure, you have a verb, then you have 得 or 不 to indicate whether or not you could achieve the result, and then you have the result itself. Colloquially I think the 得 is sometimes dropped, but not always.

Useful stuff :)

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Guest MestariTomte

dui4 bu4 qi3 ... means "i cannot face you" ...

there is cultural context behind this expression (saving face is everything)

grammarically' date=' "dui bu qi" is a [b']resultative verb compound (RVC).[/b]

you face (dui) the person, but cannot raise (qi) your head to look at them in the whites of their eyes.

Aah... Well this explains alot! Well actually only after I do some searching at chinese.primezero.com - this is how I originally got it:

duì was translated by my teachers friend as "right". In Finnish the closest, and the only appropriate word is "kyllä" which is very more like English "yes". So, I worked out that duì bù qì must mean "kyllä"-"ei"-qi which is "yes"-"no"-qi. And I was like wow - really philosophical to make the expression "sorry" from words "yes" and "no" and something that is pronounced as qì... *blush*

And about those radicals... I was about to add to my original question that does the thing have something to with these radicals I've heard about... But anyway, I'm still a bit confused. It appears to my unskilled eyes and mind that radicals have radicals themselves. This is from the link posted here before:

又 "you" grasping, further, again

文 "wen" word, literature

支 "zhi" branch

攴 "pu" whip

Doesn't those three latter ones have "you" inside of it? And is "zhong1", middle, a radical (couldn't find it from the list)? This I ask because I find

虫 hui insect, creeping animal

from there and it looks that there's "zhong1" and this other radical(?) I don't recognise.

They say that the Chinese is the easiest language in the world - and that I do not yet disagree - I'm just surprised that the part which isn't so easy is so confusing :-)

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Guest Anonymous
They say that the Chinese is the easiest language in the world

Who are 'they'? :-)

I've always heard people say that Chinese is the hardest language in the world, until people start learning the language and most of the time change their mind. :roll:

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Tsunku

And about those radicals... I was about to add to my original question that does the thing have something to with these radicals I've heard about... But anyway' date=' I'm still a bit confused. It appears to my unskilled eyes and mind that radicals have radicals themselves. This is from the link posted here before:

又 "you" grasping, further, again

文 "wen" word, literature

支 "zhi" branch

攴 "pu" whip

[/quote']

Yeah, it is confusing, but those are all separate radicals. They do all have the same two strokes as you. There are even more extreme examples, such as 麻, which contains three characters and two words, but is still a radical. The best way to figure out radicals is to get used to recognizing them in characters. Characters can be basically divided into two parts: left/right, top/bottom, or inside/outside. With left/right characters the radical will always be found in one of these positions. Generally, the radical is on the left, but not always. Certain radicals are usually found in the same position. The 心 radical, for instance, will always be at the bottom of the character. If you see character like 意思 yisi (meaning), you will know that xin is the radical because it's right there at the bottom where it should be.

I don't know if this is helpful at all. Even though it's possible to divide the radicals further, it's more useful not to because that way we can group the characters more distinctly. At it's most basic, the chinese language is made up of a number of different kinds of strokes, but radicals are not just strokes, they're characters in and of themselves.

As for dui, you didn't get a bad translation, dui does mean right, or correct, but it also has another more meanings. "To face", like geek_frappa said, or "towards" are also common usages for dui.

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geek_frappa

Aah... Well this explains alot! Well actually only after I do some searching at chinese.primezero.com - this is how I originally got it:

sorry. there are a lot of mistakes and ambiguities in the CEDICT database.

when i get some time, i will correct a lot of the errors.

i am in the process of writing a new, special dictionary with specific definitions, sample sentences and explanations.

it takes time, but it will be worth it.

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skylee

MestariTomte, Chinese characters are not to be broken down like how you thought. The most "basic" units, I would think, are strokes. And then there are radicals, like Tsunku said. "文" is not made up of a dot and a "又" (actually the strokes of the two characters are different). One more example, "出" is not made up of two "山" (although it definitely looks so). This webpage may be useful to you.

It would be most helpful for you to get a Chinese dictionary and learn the radicals. There are a lot of them, and you have to memorize them, and indeed it is difficult to look up words in a Chinese dictionary.

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Tsunku

Yeah actually, skylee is right. 又 is actually only written with two strokes. 文 has four. She's also right about memorizing the radicals. It is one of the most important things you can do to improve your reading and writing as a beginner. Once you know your radicals, characters become a lot more manageable :)

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Guest Anonymous
It would be most helpful for you to get a Chinese dictionary and learn the radicals. There are a lot of them, and you have to memorize them, and indeed it is difficult to look up words in a Chinese dictionary.

Actually learning the radicals is pretty simple comparing to learning characters in general. It's usually pretty easy to tell what radical a character has. Also, looking up words in a Chinese dictionary isn't difficult. Dictionaries published in mainland China use Hanyu Pinyin while the ones in Taiwan use Zhuyin Fuhao, both phonetic spelling systems. If you know how to pronounce a character, it's extremely simply to look it up. There are also many online and software dictionaries where if you find a character you don't reognize online, simply cut and paste. In real life though, you do have to know the radicals if you see a character which you don't know how to pronounce.

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Guest MestariTomte
They say that the Chinese is the easiest language in the world

Who are 'they'? :-)

Hold on a sec... *flipping pages*

Actually many sinologists and philologists have long considered Chinese to be one of the most easiest languages in the world.

He also continues how there's almost no complex grammar' date=' characters have high repetitive percent and there's just couple thousand [i']basic marks[/i] - must be those radicals he is referring to.

sorry. there are a lot of mistakes and ambiguities in the CEDICT database.

when i get some time' date=' i will correct a lot of the errors.

[/quote']

Nonono... Nothing wrong with CEDICT, my friend:

couple; pair; to be opposite; to oppose; to face; for; to; correct (answer); to answer; to reply; to direct (towards sth); right;

I don't know if this is helpful at all. Even though it's possible to divide the radicals further' date=' it's more useful not to because that way we can group the characters more distinctly.[/quote']

It sure has been enlightening - now I know to start worrying about those radicals when I next have the urge to learn some more characters. But for my original question - I think that what I was after was that group what you refer as "divided radicals" (wow - hope I got all those thats, wasses and whats right).

The 心 radical, for instance, will always be at the bottom of the character

So in "níng", 寧, 心 isn't a radical?

Now I really need to go - I'll check that page skylee pointed out later (sorry if my questions were already answered there).

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Tsunku

In that character, 宁 (this is the simplified version) the top part is the radical.Characters that have that radical will always have it on the top part. 安, 字, 它, 宾.... all examples of that radical.

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