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Say It Right Series

My weirdest experience of Chinese yet...help!

Posted by silentnoise April 7, 2009 in the Group General Discussion.

Tags: characters, Hanzi, reading

I've just discovered something that has never crossed my mind about learning Chinese.

Last week, my friend bought me a Chinese book for my birthday - it's all written with characters and no pinyin.  Initially I thought "awesome - it's about time I paid some attention to hanzi".  After all the excitment of opening presents, I turned my attention to understanding what the characters on the front cover said, so I grabbed my Chinese dictionary and was immediately shocked to realise something I've never considered before about learning Chinese - how do you look up characters in a dictionary if you don't even know the pinyin to begin with?

I am actually quite shocked that I've not considered this before.

How do I even begin to look words up in a Chinese dictionary when I've only got the characters and have no idea what the pinyin is?  Is there any simple way of doing this?  How do Chinese people do this?

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