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Simplified Radicals list- how many radicals?

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I think they based v4 of their poster onwards on a guide that I wrote (here: http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/31003-guide-to-simplified-radicals/ ) and the feedback that I'd given them with reference to that. I'd need to study v6 as it still has a few items that aren't really simplified radicals. Compilers of such charts are obviously free to add or combine or even omit items here and there as they see fit or according to personal taste, but ultimately they only add to the chaos and can't be viewed as dependable guides to any actual dictionary (I've expanded on this point in the posts below).

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For what it's worth, all I know is that John DeFrancis had the following to say in the original ABC C-E Dictionary (which was about the first dictionary I've ever had that actually bothered to explain and in detail how its radical system worked, and in relation to the traditional Kangxi system. It's been superseded now though by the ABC C-E Comprehensive and ABC ECCE): "This index...follows the most authoritative ordering of characters by radicals, namely the 189-radical system of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) as presented in Xiandai Hanyu Cidian." By which he of course meant simplified radicals, for simplified, mainland characters. Then, a number of other influential dictionaries, including the Xinhua Zidian and the Oxford/Commercial Press Concise (精选英汉汉英词典) if not the POCD (which got rid of one rare radical, reducing the number to 188) have also used essentially the same system.


It pays to know all 189 even if the dictionary you end up using utilizes fewer radicals (and if it uses more, chances are it's either using the traditional Kangxi system or some variant thereof, or something like the 201-radical "Unified" system - see Daniel Kane's The Chinese Language or Binyong & Rohsenhow's Modern Chinese Characters for info on the latter. Kane mentions that the 201 is actually now the "official" radical chart as used in the latest editions of the Xiandai Hanyu Cidian and Xinhua Zidian, but it may be a while before it filters through if at all to western publications. Personally I'd prefer to use the Kangxi-based CRC system used in the ABC dictionaries and Pleco - read on! - than the Unified, as the CRC seems easier to use and more consistent - see post #17 below for several examples of the 201's inconsistencies. For simplified however the 189 is hard to beat).


I've provided details in the link above and in post #6 below of any radicals not in the 189 but in the Kangxi system, but a sure way of navigating between the two is the ingenious Comprehensive Radical Chart (CRC) provided in the ABC ECCE and (AFAIK) the ABC C-E Comprehensive dictionaries, which is pretty much the system and chart also used in Pleco (but in Pleco minus all the redirect numbers, as the app does that work for you. Note that the redirects are all to the canonical Kangxi forms e.g. from the '3 drops of water' side variant to the full 'water' radical-character, hence it's ultimately a traditionally-oriented, though admittedly pretty comprehensive, system).


That is, the CRC and Pleco uses the Kangxi radicals and whatever simplified equivalents, and all in not only stroke-count order but also zha2 札-type stroke subordering and the recursive application thereof (thus solving the Kangxi stroke-order jumble once and for all), which is an ordering that differs from the 189's subordering just in the position of the 丶 stroke (which has moved from first to fourth place thus: 丶 一 丨 丿 乙 versus  一 丨 丿 丶 乙 . You can see how the character 札 is built up from and thus lends its name to the latter stroke ordering). Knowing stuff like these suborderings will help increase your general look-up speed, and enable you to use recursively-arranged radical indexes as veritable stroke-order manuals, and so on (take a look at the "Dictionary look-up skills - a crash course!" thread and gifs linked to in the Guide to Simplified Radicals thread above for more on this :wink:).


Lastly, the following site has good breakdowns of the processes that were involved in the simplifications:


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When I started learning there were 214 radicals, what happened to the missing 33?


All my dictionaries (simplified) use 214. Pleco uses 214.


What have I missed?

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@Shelley: 214 - 189 = 25, so maybe there are fewer missing than you think LOL. (Only kidding - the 189 system puts items into separate entries that the Kangxi say would lump together under a "canonical" radical e.g. in the Kangxi the 'three drops of water' goes under the four-stroke radical-character for water, whereas the 189 gives them their own entries, so we can't just go by raw arithmetic, as a fair few of those 189 are in fact mere "variants" of each other. When one actually looks at which Kangxi radicals aren't in the 189, there seems to be at least 37 items, which is even more than the 33 posited by the OP! See the list below).


And just because a dictionary includes simplified radical look-up options doesn't necessarily mean that its indexing system is overall more simplified than traditional (IMHO). To take your example of Pleco, its radical chart seems closely based on or certainly very similar to the ABC dictionaries' printed CRC that I mentioned earlier, and if you look at that printed CRC you'll see how it clearly and consistently redirects the user to the canonical Kangxi radical section every time (for example, 讠has the number 149 under it, which is a redirect to the canonical 言 section). As the Pleco app does the work of redirecting for you it is easy to miss or overlook the Kangxi bias (that is, directionality of the redirects) of certainly the printed version. Or perhaps we should say that electronic dictionaries don't really count in this discussion? Anyway, it's actually a little ambiguous quite what you mean by 'simplified' when you say 'All my dictionaries (simplified) use 214'. You could simply be talking about a dictionary's entries including simplified variants, as for example the Far East C-E Dictionary does, even though that is very obviously a traditional Kangxi indexed work (see what I mean?). Which dictionaries are you referring to (other than Pleco)? By which I mean, which printed dictionaries LOL.


So where have the missing Kangxi radicals (or rather, characters, as they're no longer radicals in a simplified system - read on!) gone in simplified systems such as the 189, then? The answer is that you basically have to look them up under different, smaller ("radical within the former radical") radicals. For example, in the Oxford/CP Concise, one would look up the now mere character (otherwise KX radical 21) 匕 under CASS radical 4 丿(the pie3 or left-falling stroke, which is indeed the first stroke of 匕), which is also the CASS radical for the now mere character 川 (=KX 47), while the now mere character 支 (=KX 65) may be looked up using CASS radicals 11 十 or 24 又, and so on and so forth.


So the simplifications weren't just about reducing strokes, but were also apparently about somewhat reducing the inventory of items needed to look things up generally (the two go hand in hand quite logically). There were thus some items that were not so much simplified (and thus given redirects within the simplified radical chart itself, e.g. 龍 > 龙) as considered too rare to warrant certainly their own radical entries anymore (not that they ceased to still be existent and thus findable traditional characters, as the previous, italicized 'character' x3 and allied alternative look-up examples show). I'm not sure that (m)any books bother to point this out, hence your or the general possible confusion or puzzlement as to where the "missing" radicals quite went! Into the (simplified) index rather than radical chart is the short answer (but hey, that's where they've always been and have remained! Though of course some dictionaries don't include traditional characters, or at least don't cater indexically for their look-up. IIRC the CCD3 is an example of a dictionary that includes them bracketed in entries, but doesn't provide the indexical means to find them. Kinda silly and a missed opportunity that'll lose them custom to more comprehensively-indexed dictionaries, but best to double-check the review that I wrote of it LOL).


In the ABC ECCE it states that 187 of the CASS 189 are equivalent to Kangxi radicals, with only two (业 and 其) having no Kangxi equivalents (though again, one can certainly look up e.g. KX 204 黹 using 业, at least in the Xinhua).


Here is the list of "Kangxi radicals not in the 189" from my Guide to Simplified Radicals thread if you fancy having a go at looking up some other radical-characters in one of the simplified dictionaries mentioned. :wink: From a quick count of the total number listed below versus the more noteworthy or relevant of the bracketed caveats ('but see CASS/POCD nn') it would appear that there are at least 37 items worth checking, but unfortunately I don't have time to triple-check them! :P And the following first half of a CASS 189 < > KX 214 conversion chart and overall thread might also be of some interest: http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/24671-traditional-vs-simplified-radicals/?p=205910 . Generally however, and like I said just now to Galit, if I were you I'd nowadays just stick to Pleco or the ABC dictionaries' CRC, as it does the work for you, fascinating though the minority of non- or not-quite-overlapping radicals may sometimes be to ponder!


1-06 亅 stroke-componentially is shùgōu (vs. shùtí), but also called yīgōu
2-21 匕 bǐ, spoon
3-35 夊 suī, go slowly (more or less a redundant form, effectively ousted by Kangxi 34 (CASS/POCD 57))
3-47 川 chuān, river (but see CASS/POCD 70)
3-51 干 gān, shield
4-65 支 zhī, branch
4-71 无 wú, not
4-83 氏 shì, clan
4-89 爻 yáo, I Ching lines; interconnected
4-92 牙 yá, tooth
5-95 玄 xuán, dark, obscure
5-96 玉 yù, jade
5-99 甘 gān, sweet
5-100 生 shēng, give birth
5-105 癶 bō, back-to-back, legs out; "tent"
5-114 禸 róu, footprint
6-122 网 wǎng, net (but see CASS/POCD 120)
6-126 而 ér, moreover
6-130 肉 ròu, meat (but see CASS/POCD 103)
6-133 至 zhì, arrive, reach
6-136 舛 chuǎn, oppose, deviate, err
6-139 色 sè, colour, hue
6-144 行 xíng, walk, go (but see CASS/POCD 54)
8-168 長 镸 cháng, long (but see CASS 184/POCD 183)
8-171 隶 lì, dài, subservient
8-175 非 fēi, not, non-
9-176 面 miàn, face
9-179 韭 jiǔ, leeks
9-183 飛 fēi, fly high
9-185 首 shǒu, head
9-186 香 xiāng, fragrant
10-189 高 gāo, tall, high
10-192 鬯 chàng, sacrificial wine
10-193 鬲 lì, tripod steam cooker
12-201 黃 huáng, yellow
12-202 黍 shǔ, glutinous millet
12-204 黹 zhǐ, embroidery
13-205 黽 měng, frog, toad (CASS 174 黾, but not in POCD)
13-206 鼎 dǐng, bronze cauldron
13-207 鼓 gǔ, drum
14-210 齊 qí, neat, even, uniform
16-213 龜 guī, turtle, tortoise
17-214 龠 yuè, panpipe, flute

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This issue is very interesting because the following characters do exist in the simplified list I uploaded before:匕,夊,川,干,牙... and also 生 and 毋.

so they are indeed simplified.

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I did 214 - 181 = 33 missing. The OP's first post says:


However it has only 181 radicals.



Thank you for your very detailed post and I will go and have a look at your Guide to Simplified Radicals.


I will have to spend some more time on all this, I have to admit my radical knowledge has become rusty as we have been spoilt with electronic dictionaries and handwriting recognition.


I just started to study my poster from the Outlier give away and now my head is swimming with radicals and components and trying to keep them separate or at least understand their differences correctly.

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Heh don't worry Shelley, most of the radicals are the same between the two systems, and those that aren't (i.e. the Kangxi ones missing from the simplified set) have been mapped at least as characters onto whichever alternative simplified radical best helps partly ("componentially") make up that Kangxi form.


It would be a bit like getting rid of any explicit listing of the letter k in an alphabet chart by saying it's simply composed of the letter l and/or a rotated v, and that people should now look in one or other of those other l or v sections in their dictionaries (though of course k would still be an actual letter in at least other respects, such as its use in the wider orthography as a whole).


As for radicals versus components: as OneEye says elsewhere, the radical is simply the somewhat arbitrarily-assigned part (or parts, in less dogmatic dictionaries that allow more than one possible look-up) of the character that the character ends up filed under in a dictionary. It is ultimately just so much dust and cobwebs and scurrying mice, and a bit like saying that you'd know all about an English word's meaning and pronunciation and etymological history just going by and filing it under its first letter, or indeed just from its surface spelling overall. Obviously there may be a bit more involved than that, especially with a writing system as comparatively complex as Chinese, and all that this talk of components rather than radicals is trying to achieve is to remind us to look beyond mere filing or too-incremental terms. Either way, I don't think the various radical systems in themselves are responsible for the possible confusion that Outlier Linguistic Solutions' solutions (semantic components etc) are subjecting your brain (hell, our brains!) to LOL. (I'm sure OneEye won't mind the gentle ribbing though!).

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@887: There's some explanation of the 227 scheme here:



Note especially the line 'It also introduces a number of unsimplified characters as bushou where they were once under one of the Kangxi radicals. It is therefore quite clumsy.'


I haven't looked at it much in detail as it doesn't seem that widely used, at least not in dictionaries published more in the West than in China.


I take simplified systems to be those that, as the name implies, generally use and give equal attention to the simplified or less complex variants of traditional~canonically-complex radicals, while at the same time reducing the overall size of the inventory somewhat by 'placing some former traditional characters (that appear as Kangxi radicals themselves) under other radicals' (as I've tried to explain above).

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This issue is very interesting because the following characters do exist in the simplified list I uploaded before:匕,夊,川,干,牙... and also 生 and 毋.

so they are indeed simplified.
But that pdf isn't an official or actually published one (from an actual dictionary, I mean), it's just something somebody's cobbled together, nice and pretty though it admittedly is. (See also paras 4-7 below LOL). I'd call the more published if not official of such lists (systems?) hybrid or quasi-unified ones, and you can see two such examples in (the reviews that I wrote for) the CCD3, and the Macmillan-FLTRP Chinese Character Dictionary: http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/35875-occasional-book-reviews/ .
It's sometimes hard to be too dogmatic, especially when the actual dictionary entries present simplified forms first and traditional only second (as in the ABC ECCE, for example), but whether an index's system is overall more simplified versus traditional comes down IMHO to a) how many traditional but rare items it's simplified or indeed culled rather than included, and b) whether any redirects point more to the simplified or less complex variants than to the traditional/canonical forms. Sometimes there isn't enough of a match between these two factors to really call it.
Like I say, if you want a good logical well-designed unified system that consistently redirects to the fuller traditional~canonical forms, check out the CRC in the ABC dictionaries and/or Pleco. If on the other hand you want what seems to be the most widely-adopted or aped simplified system, look no further than the CASS 189/POCD 188.
The main thing to bear in mind is that the pdf chart you've posted in your OP was not developed for any actual dictionary but was compiled with no particular dictionary (let alone dictionaries plural) in mind. I'd thus say it is more "no thing to no man" than "all things to all men", and to take what it presents with a pinch of salt. You ultimately have to work with what any one particular dictionary allows you to.
For example, you will look in vain for the character kan4 看 under any 'hand' radical in the Oxford/CP Concise, the Xinhua, the ABC ECCE, or even the 227-radical Han-Ying Cidian that 889 mentions, as the third variant listed in that pdf chart is, as far as I'm aware and have checked, not counted as a valid variant of the hand radical in any of those works. In fact, the only type of dictionary in which you could surely look it up that way would be one using the 201-radical Unified system, or a similar quasi-unified one like that in the Macmillan-FLTRP CCD, where such a variant is explicitly listed and thus allowed.
Simply presenting such items on an abstract chart divorced from any actual book is little more than wishful thinking and betrays a lack of familiarity with the range of reference works available. You could argue that it helps increase awareness of more forms in the abstract, but the obvious danger is that the unaware user conflates the forms and wastes time on unproductive, indeed "impossible", look-ups (depending of course on the particular dictionary they happen to have picked up to use for the task). What people should be doing is spending more time familiarizing themselves with their dictionary's system (or dictionaries' systems), i.e. the dictionaries that they actually own, than spending too much time looking for holy-grail "comprehensive" charts. Or, at least make conversion charts or something reasonably concrete and useful.
My Guide to Simplified Radicals is thus primarily just a guide to the 189 simplified radicals as developed by the CASS and popularized in dictionaries such as Oxford's, but that is still a whole lot more than what some so-called guides purport to provide! They aren't dependable guides to even a single dictionary.
Rant over. :mrgreen::lol:8):)
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Tl:dr version: How long is a piece of string, or how many grains of sugar are there in a sugarcube? LOL. And the corollary: If someone has a sweet tooth they will think nothing of adding more sugar! :P

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Out of curiosity I had a look at my very first dictionary I bought in 1989, it is 汉英词典 , my version was printed in 1988 so I figured at the time it was pretty much up to date. It has 227 so I have lost even more from when I first started lol :):shock:


I had forgotten about this dictionary, sad really as I used it a lot for my first 10 years and then electronic dictionaries appeared and it has sat on the shelf since then.


Whaaa I just looked at my Tuttle's learners dictionary and it has 166 radicals listed :(:shock:


They are vanishing :shock:


Oh well as I mostly use Pleco its not really a problem, but it is interesting.



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Guys thank you so much for the inspiring discussion!

So here is another question: when a child goes to school in mainland china what set of radicals does he learn? Like what is the official ministry of education's set of radicals?

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To be honest I don't know if there is an actually officially-prescribed mainland set of radicals for educational purposes (when I was in China I was TEFLing and didn't have quite the interest then that I do now in the minutiae of radical systems ROFL!). If there is, perhaps it's the 201-radical Unified system nowadays. Either way, there is as we have seen quite a variety in the systems that have been published, and the most important thing must surely be that whatever radical system is used, it should allow the look-up of at least simplified characters (if not traditional ones too!). Most Chinese probably get used to several systems (especially if there's a range of resources at home) and can quickly adapt to new ones whenever they pick up a new dictionary. What the mainland government seems most concerned about in dictionaries is censoring any possible misrepresentation of the political status of Taiwan LOL (by e.g. stickering over any errant appendix entries).


Yeah (Shelley), I think it is natural that simplified radicals have been disappearing, as every time a new dictionary is developed they look at the inventory of radicals afresh and realize there are some that can be culled and thereby assigned to alternative radicals, just like a number of the Kangxi were scrapped when systems like the 189 were first developed. In some ways the 189 are to simplified Chinese what the Kangxi system is to traditional Chinese, except that people don't mess with the Kangxi system much if at all (by which I mean it isn't culled in terms of traditional character dictionaries at least). I wonder what the minimal (or if you prefer, maximally-useful) number of simplified radicals would be, before the potential paucity of the inventory resulted in too-large radical sections and thus too-long, comparatively inefficient searches.

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Just thought I'd give a few examples of the inconsistent redirects in the 201-radical Unified system.


Let's say you're looking up a character with the cowrie shell as its radical. In the radical chart under the 4-stroke radicals you'll see the entry: 76 贝 (貝), which basically means that the simplified form is the main radical, numbered 76, with the bracketed traditional form considered subsidiary (and FWIW, between entries 156 and 157 in the 7-stroke radicals there is an indented redirect back to entry 76 thus: -> [76] (貝)).


When however you go to look up a character with say 'metal' as its radical, all you'll see in the 5-stroke section between entries 108 and 109 is an indented redirect thus: -> [176] (钅), meaning the bracketed simplified form is now the subsidiary, redirecting one, with the main radical the traditional form at entry 176, thus: 176 金 (钅).


But then you go to look for say the horse radical and it's back the other way around again, with the simplified primary: the main entry reads 58 马 (馬), while between entries 188 and 189 there's the indented redirect -> [58] (馬).


The following wiki page if not the linked official pdf will hopefully make all that "clearer":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Table_of_Indexing_Chinese_Character_Components > http://www.china-language.gov.cn/9/2009_9_23/1_9_4344_0_1253687722552.html


Inconsistent, no? In that one moment it is redirecting from traditional to simplified, and the next from simplified to traditional. It's hard to make sense of what the deciding criteria is (maybe I should read the pdf's preamble? LOL). Stick with the CRC/Pleco, or at least with the 189, I say!


"Bonus": One of the beauties of the printed CRC and the Kangxi chart right opposite it in the back of e.g. the ABC ECCE is that it saves a lot of stroke counting regarding the traditional variants. For example, I'd forgotten quite how many strokes the traditional horse radical has (9? 10?) while trying to locate it in the Unified chart for the purposes of double-checking the formatting there (and I think it would help in the indents if they gave the bracketed form before rather than after the bracketed number, as the bracketed form is harder to scan across to and see otherwise), but with the CRC all I had to know was that the simplified form has 3 strokes, so glancing in its 3-stroke section I could then see that under the 3-stroke form was the Kangxi number 187. It would take longer to locate that item 187 in the CRC than the Kangxi chart opposite it though, so a quick glance at the Kangxi chart on the left and BAM, there it is, number 187, 10 strokes, thank you very much Mr ABC ECCE. Similar ease of speed with that 189 < > 214 conversion chart I made, though I've lost the printout of that, must print another one. Anyway, time now for a break methinks, as all this radical stuff is making me rather ramble on and pretty much to myself almost! :lol:

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