Radical Dictionary & Flashcards - iOS/Android tested

#1
This project came out of the fact that as I began learning the characters I realized that knowing the radicals helped me learn new characters a whole lot faster than just trying to remember each character based on it's own merits, since sound and meaning is typically included in the component choices. What I find is strange is just about all the advice for studying chinese I've read and been given says learning the radicals isn't so important for a beginning student. Possibly because of this view I could find very little material that allows someone to study just the radicals themselves.

This is basically a dictionary which covers all the radicals and their variants; several components are also included. The data includes meaning, notes, and etymology. Frequency information is included for the KangXi radicals and their variants (this is RANK, higher means more frequent). There is also a note for each character whether there is any point in learning it as a standalone character. The additional radicals from the modern simplified chinese tables are covered where possible, though in some cases these radicals only exist in extension B.

I've now updated this for Pleco 2.0, the updates include:
  • A number of new characters, particularly a number of Extension A characters which had been skipped before.
  • Notes have been expanded to include how the radical is typically used in characters and the types of characters that will be listed under it.
  • A Mnemonic field has been added, in many cases this was just separated from the notes data in the previous release, but this information has been expanded/refined in many cases. While this field is often the technical etymology that can't always be guaranteed.
  • Examples have been added as per a request here, chosen to illustrate the most typical uses of a given radical
  • There is a new 'Distinguish From' field
  • A flashcard list is now included.


Feedback is welcome, next steps is to put some effort on the various character components.

Sources
  • Primary Sources:
    Additional resources include:
    In addition to abovementioned sources all of the dictionaries within Pleco were consulted before writing the definition, a couple verbatim copies came from Unihan or CEdict. I also found component information on a number of sites, I think one of the main resources I used was a variant of the Unihan database somewhere on mandarintools.com. Wenlin was consulted for some component information and some of the etymology updates


Note: due to some bugs in Pleco's handling of radical characters, the dictionary will not actually be searchable for some radical characters yet - this will be corrected in a future update.

iOS Dictionary Installation
  • 1. Make sure some sort of wireless/data connection is enabled on the iOS device.
    2. Launch Pleco
    3. Click the functions icon on the lower right hand corner of the screen
    4. Click Settings
    5. Scroll down and select Web Browser
    6. Go to plecoforums.com and navigate to this forum thread.
    7. Click the link to the "Dictionary Database" file below and save the file to your device.
    8. Now go to the 'Manage Dicts' screen under Settings.
    9. Tap the 'Add User' button, then "Load Existing", and choose the Radical dictionary.
    10. Go back to the dictionary interface in Pleco
    11. Go to the C-E dictionary list with ABC, etc
    12. Cycle through the dictionaries by clicking on the dictionary icon, the icon is RAD. Alternatively tap and hold the dictionaries icon, select the one called Radicals.

iOS Flashcards Installation
  • 1. Repeat steps 1-7 above with the "Flashcard List" file.
    2. Go to the "Import Cards" / "Import cards" screen under Flashcards.
    3. Tap on "File" under "Choose File" and select the downloaded flashcard list file.
    4. Set "Duplicate cards" to "Allow" - this will make sure that your newly imported cards don't link to old definitions from other dictionaries / flashcard lists.
    5. Tap on "Begin Import."

Android Dictionary Installation
  • 1. Download the Dictionary Database file below.
    2. Copy the dictionary .pqb file to your device's SD card. (you can also download it directly to your device)
    3. In the main screen of Pleco, press your device's menu button (or the onscreen menu button on Android 4.0), choose "Settings," "Dictionary," "Manage Dictionaries," "Add User," "Load Existing," and select the dictionary file.

Android Flashcards Installation
  • 1. Download the Flashcard List file below.
    2. Copy the flashcard .txt file to your device's SD card. (you can also download it directly to your device)
    3. In the main screen of Pleco, press your device's menu button (or the onscreen menu button on Android 4.0), choose "Flashcards," "Import Cards."
    4. Tap "Choose File" and select the flashcard file.
    5. Set "Duplicate cards" to "Allow" - this will make sure that your newly imported cards don't link to old definitions from other dictionaries / flashcard lists.
    6. Tap on "Begin Import."
 

Attachments

#2
Re: Radical Dictionary

I agree with you that a set of flashcards for radicals would be awesome and very helpful in learning characters. The only problem is that I have a windows operating system on my mobile and have tried to convert your .pdb file to .txt and all I get is a jumbled mess. Could you make your download available in .txt as well as .pdb? Thank you
 
#3
Re: Radical Dictionary

What I attached is a dictionary, not a flashcard list, sorry. Flashcards will come later.

I guess some installation instructions are in order:
1. Close Pleco if open
2. Copy this file into your Pleco program files directory alongside the rest of your dictionaries.
3. Launch Pleco
4. Go to the C-E dictionary list with ABC, etc
5. Cycle through the dictionaries by clicking on the dictionary icon, this one will be the one with a question mark icon. Alternatively tap and hold the dictionaries icon, select the one called radicals.

Once you're in the dictionary you can pretty quickly cycle through the list and choose the radicals you're interested in to create flashcards. There's only about ~320 entries total.
 
#6
Re: Radical Dictionary

This would be amaizng!!! but it says the attachment no longer exists? is it still available?!?!
Cheers
Blair
 
#8
Re: Radical Dictionary

What happened to my post?

Anyway, I say it again:
It´s a really nice thing you have done!

But I´d like to ask what sources you have used for information about the radicals/components?

And, for the next version: it would be even greater if there were example characters with each radical/component

Thanks!
 
#9
Re: Radical Dictionary

Thanks! Glad you like it.

I used many many sources, at this point I can't even remember them all. Finding information on each radical was a bit of a treasure hunt, many are poorly documented.

My top sources are probably:

Other resources included:

In addition to abovementioned sources all of the dictionaries within Pleco were consulted before writing the definition, a couple verbatim copies came from Unihan or CEdict
I also found component information on a number of sites, I think one of the main resources I used was a variant of the Unihan database somewhere on mandarintools.com

I can include some character examples - I think for most of the radicals my raw data already contains that information, I just decided not to include it because I figured it would be easy enough to do a radical search in Pleco. I can see some benefits of including it though.
 
#11
Re: Radical Dictionary

Thanks Idolse! I have been similarly surprised at the lack of emphasis put on learning the Chinese radicals. I have always thought that learning thousands of individual characters is an impossibly difficult task, but that learning a few hundred radicals and their meanings can make learning an infinite number of characters a much easier task.

I am dumbfounded as to why the radicals are not taught in most Chinese programs.

Once again, thanks for your work!
 
#12
Re: Radical Dictionary

Is there any flashcard list for Radicals? The dictionary is great, but it would be terrific to have flashcards for radicals.
 
#14
Re: Radical Dictionary

You're right - thanks!

Michael Love gave me the following instructions, which worked fine:

"Go through and create a flashcard based on each entry in that radical dictionary - wouldn't take very long, just use one hand to press the scroll down button and the other to tap the "add to flashcards" button with a stylus."
 
#15
Re: Radical Dictionary

I've been meaning to create some lists based on rank - to make it easier to study the most frequently used radicals first. I'm not sure if I have the raw data on my laptop at the moment, but I'm about to head out on a long flight - if I can find the original data I'll go ahead and create the lists and post them later.

Thanks all for the votes of appreciation too!
 
#18
Re: Radical Dictionary

Just updated the first post to include sources for the Sun-ExtA font. At some point when I'm feeling energetic I'll write a full post on enabling the font for use throughout Windows Mobile, but there should be enough detail floating around for someone to figure it out on their own.
 
#19
Re: Radical Dictionary

I'm just starting to study Chinese characters and have been wondering if something like this exists. Thanks - excellent idea!

> To get Pleco to use this [Sun-ExtA] font you just need it in the windows,
> windows/fonts, or pleco directory (device memory, not storage card) and
> it will show up in the font list in Pleco.

I'm fairly new to using my Treo 650 for anything more than a phone. Are you saying that I could just put this font file in my PC's Windows directory, and it will somehow, magically, get transferred to my 650, and will be used by Pleco? (!?)

Or, *what* pleco directory? On my PC or my Treo 650?

Douglas
 
#20
Re: Radical Dictionary

That bit of advice is for Windows Mobile users only - won't do an awful lot of good if you're running Palm OS, so probably best to ignore it.
 
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