Chinese is not based on an alphabet or syllabary, so Chinese dictionaries, along with dictionaries that define Chinese characters in other languages, cannot effortlessly be alphabetized or otherwise lexically ordered, as English dictionaries are. The need to arrange Chinese characters so as to permit effective lookup has offered rise to a considerable range of methods to organize and index the characters.
A classic mechanism is the method of radicals, which uses a set of character roots. These roots, or radicals, usually but imperfectly align with the parts utilized to compose characters by signifies of logical aggregation and phonetic complicated. A canonical set of 214 radicals was developed through the rule of the Kangxi Emperor (around the year 1700); these are often named the Kangxi radicals. The radicals are ordered first by stroke count (which is, the number of strokes need to write the radical); in a given stroke count, the radicals also possess a prescribed order.
Every single Chinese character falls below the heading of one of these 214 radicals. In several cases, the radicals are themselves characters, which naturally come first under their very own heading. All other characters under an offered radical are ordered by the stroke count from the character. Generally, you will find a lot of characters with a provided stroke count beneath a given radical. At this point, characters will not be offered in any recognizable order; the user need to locate the character by going through all characters with that stroke count, typically listed for convenience at the top of the web page on which they occur.
Since the approach of radicals is applied only to the written character, one need not know how you can pronounce a character just before looking it up; the entry, when located, normally provides the pronunciation. Nevertheless, it is not always effortless to identify which of the various roots of a character could be the suitable radical. Accordingly, dictionaries usually include a list of tough to locate characters, indexed by total stroke count, near the beginning of the dictionary. Some dictionaries incorporate almost one-seventh of all characters within this list.
Other strategies of organization exist, typically in an attempt to address the shortcomings of the radical strategy, but are less common. For example, it is common for a dictionary ordered principally by the Kangxi radicals to have an auxiliary index by pronunciation, expressed normally in either hanyu pinyin or zhuyin fuhao. This index points to the web page within the main dictionary exactly where the desired character may be located. Other methods use only the structure of the characters, including the four-corner method, in which characters are indexed in accordance to the sorts of strokes situated nearest the four corners, or the Cangjie strategy, in which characters are broken down into a set of 24 fundamental components. Neither the four-corner method nor the Cangjie strategy requires the user to identify the correct radical, though a lot of strokes or elements have alternate types, which has to be memorized so that you can use these strategies efficiently.
The availability of computerized Chinese dictionaries now tends to make it feasible to look characters up directly, with no searching, thereby sidestepping the need to index characters for this goal.