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Chinese Characters: A Genaelogy and Dictionary [Paperback]

R Harbaugh
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 545 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press / Zhongwen (1998)
  • Language: English, Mandarin Chinese
  • ISBN-10: 0966075005
  • ISBN-13: 978-0966075007
  • Product Dimensions: 17.9 x 12.9 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 791,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding dictionary 21 Nov 2002
By ZK
Format:Paperback
An excellent dictionary for students with some familiarity with Chinese, or Japanese, characters. It groups together characters with the same sound element. This helps memorisation and frequently makes you go "Oh, so that's why it's pronounced that way." It is not an exhaustive dictionary, and needs to be complemented by a larger traditional dictionary for anyone interested in reading texts. It is the most used Chinese dictionary that I have - I have far too many dictionaries of Chinese but this is the one I always take with me.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This dictionary is both genuinely useful and a fascinating book in itself. It won't be the only Chinese dictionary you ever need, but it's an excellent (and very different) complement to, say, John deFrancis' alphabetical pinyin dictionary.
It's organised around a system of charts linking characters by elements other than the radical, such as primary phonetic components. This takes a bit of learning but together with the usual radical index, it really does make it much easier to find an unknown character and to remember where you found it.
I actually found the book easier to use than its associated website, because everything seems clearer and more spacious. My only real problem with it is that the simplified characters are very minimally treated -- I appreciate this is intentional, but an appendix describing the main types of simplification would have been great.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finding out about characters 24 May 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating little reference book, a must. I only wish that the font was larger - small is fine for travelling, but not for study. (Also, for dictionary compilers: is there _any_ dictionary that has a radical chart on a fold out page for easy reference?)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I have used a lot of Chinese dictionaries. Big ones, litle ones, ones from Taiwan, from Beijing, and from the USA, Chinese to English and vice versa, Pinyin/English, ones with characters clear enough to copy, ones that show how the character originated. I have lots of dictionaries.
This dictionary has it all. It is small, but large enough that the characters are readable for those learning to write. There are enough ways to locate a word or concept that you just don't go away empty handed. The price is right too!
For students and long time speakers of Chinese, I highly recommend this dictionary.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I began using the on-line version of this dictionary and found it just wonderful. Since then I was longing about one year on how to get the printed version, and fortunately I received it book as a gift and I have been using it since then. Chinese Characters a genealogy and dictionary provides a deep understanding of the chinese characters meaning, history and development. One characteristic I like the most, is that is very easy to use and, it is written in traditional characters, pointing out, also, the modern character. It is just great!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The best thing about this book is that it provides explanations that help the student make sense of the elements in each Chinese character. To the best of my knowledge, these are not made-up fantasies, but based on established Chinese etymologies. But for the student, the important point is that the etymologies assist in committing the characters to memory. Moreover, in addition to the etymologies, the book not only provides examples of the character in compounds, but also includes references to compounds where it appears as the second element, making it an excellent tool for learning new vocabulary. Although it is not primarily a dictionary, the arrangement and indexes mean that one can use it that way. I wish my teachers had taught me in accordance with the explanations in this book when I started studying Chinese 20+ years ago. I still find it useful as an aid to learning characters & their compounds.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is an excellent dictionary for learning Complex Chinese characters (fantizi). You can use it to look up a character and discover why you confuse this character with others. Because the character combinations are based on frequency and importance, you can learn a new character much more easily by learning all the useful words its used in. This is especially useful as traditional dictionaries only list words that START with the character and then may list unimportant or infrequently used words. THIS dictionary traces the character if its used ANYWHRERE in a word, and then only gives you useful combinations. INCREDIBLY useful. Anyone who has studied chinese knows there are a lot of good (and bad) books out there. Well, this is a good one and a "must buy" for your reference library.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful and Fascinating 24 Dec 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is excellent. It is thorough yet concise, including a large base of characters. It can be used as a dictionary, with character-English, English-character, pinyin-character and radical sections. It can also be used as a way to remember characters and learn about their evolution. Highly recommended.
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