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Say It Right Series

An attempt at a "naive" character dictionary (字典)

Posted by mark November 6, 2010 in the Group General Discussion.

There are a number of online dictionaries that one can use to look up Chinese characters that are in electronic form, but it is not so easy if you see a character printed somewhere and you don't have background in Chinese caligraphy (e.g. were raised Chinese).  Traditional printed dictionaries require that you count strokes or expect you to be able to guess what radical a character might be classified under.  You can attempt to trace the character on the screen of an e-dict, but ones with this capability are somewhat expensive, they are timed for use by someone who is facile at writing Chinese characters, and their character recognition algorithms often rely on stroke order.

I have attempted to create a Web page that allows one to look up Simplified Chinese characters only based on the fact that they contain certain distinguishing shapes, and unlike traditional radical dictionaries, you can start from any distinguishing shape that is in the character and still find it.

What I don't know is whether or not this page will actually help anyone in the way that I hoped.  So, if some of you, my fellow Cpod users, want to give it a try and let me know what you think, I would be delighted. (

I should give a couple credits.  Fellow Cpod user Baomingguang his given me some very helpful ideas and feedback off-line.  Character definition and pronunciation data is from ccedict (a.k.a. mdgb).

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