The zeroparallax Beginners Chinese dictionary is designed to make Chinese character lookup and learning easier.

Basic Page Layout Shape Mode

Set 0:
Character, pronunciation, meaning

Set 1

Links to characters with same lead shape element.

Set 2a:
Switch modes (from shape mode to current character's phone mode)
Select initial shape.

Set 2b:
Links to characters with same final shape element.

Set 3:
Select secondary shape.

Basic Page Layout Phone Mode

Set 0:
Character, pronunciation, meaning

Set 1

Links to characters with same route phonetic, grouped according to tone, with Pinyin, Yale and gwoyeuh romatzyh (G.R.) phonetic headers for each section. (Can use G.R. or Yale to make pronunciation practice a little easier. G.R. can be particularly helpful for practicing tone differentiation.)

Set 2a:
Switch modes (from phone mode to current character's shape mode
Select initial letter for phone mode

Set 2b
Links to phonetic rhymes. Use this to change current phonetic based on rhyme (or to practice speaking rhyming phonetics.

Set 3:
Select phonetic from same initial letter group (note that ch, sh and zh are grouped as single characters, separate from c, s and z!
Below secondary phonetic selection are character links with links grouped by phonetic elements.

Making Chinese character lookup easier

To make Chinese character lookup easier for beginners, the dictionary utilizes a shape based system for indexing Chinese characters. This system assumes no pre-knowledge.

Characters are indexed according to their topmost, leftmost or outermost element first. Then, characters are further sub-grouped according to their right most or bottom most element.

For persons who are familiar with or know the pronounciation of the character they are looking for, a second phonetic index is also included.

12 initial shapes

For the shape based index there are 12 initial shapes:
囗 冂 凵 𠄌 乛 厂 丿 丶 人 一 丨 十

These all include sub-groups based on this initial top-level shape.

As an example, the 丶 group includes the following derivative shapes:
丶 礻 衤 辶 冫 次 兆 氵 忄 心
亠 享 亶 亥 齊 彥 亡 臝 方 言
立 音 章 龍 辛 亲 商 旁
弋 戈 戊 臧 广 麻 鹿 疒 宀 穴
阜 烏 悤 卑 鬼 白 自 血 向 舟

Note how the topmost or left most part includes a 丶

16 final shapes

There are also 16 final shapes:
口 山 乚 ⺆
𠃌 亅 丿 丶
㇏ 乂 八 小
丨 一 土 十

As an example, for the 一 shaped final, the subgroups are:
一 旦 丑 上 工 立 且
while for the 土 shaped final, the subgroups are:
土 生 里 垂

The reason for sub-grouping by final shapes is that it is easier to recognize the end of a character versus figuring out where to divide the character for it's second element.

Making character learning easier

There are several features of the beginners Chinese dictionary that ideally make it easier to learn characters and their pronunciation, and pronunciation in general.

First of all, the shape and phonetic indexes are built into each page, making it easy to see characters that are relate by shape or by sound.

In addition, the shape based index includes a sub index that shows characters with the same final element grouped together. This makes it easy to see how the meaning, and possibly the pronunciation varies according to the characters first element.

When using the phonetic indexing option, a rhyming sub index is included. Both it and the alphabetical phonetic index can be used ot practice sounds that begin or end with the same sounds.

In addition, you can also see characters grouped by phonetic elements. This can make it easier to memorize groups of characters, that have the same pronunciation.

As a further aid to improving pronunciation, the phonetic page for each character includes Pinyin but also the Yale and Gwoyeu Romatzyh romanization alphabets.

The latter is a toneless romanization method where the spelling varies for each tone. Meanwhile the yale method uses tone marks but also uses spelling that can make it easier to pronounce Mandarin Chinese a little bit easier.

ZeroparallaxBeginners Chinese Dictionary
Character lookup and learning made easy


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