Easy Lookup Initials Index for Traditional Chinese Characters

The Easy Lookup Traditional Chinese Character "Initials Index" (Initials Index for short) is one of three Easy Lookup Indexes included in the Easy Lookup Chinese English Dictionary.

It divides Traditional Chinese characters into 12 categories each with a maximum of 16 groups based on shape.

Chinese character lookup is made easier (even for beginners) because it is based purely on shape with no need to know a characters radical, stroke count or pronounciation.

12 Character Categories

The 12 categories of the Initials index are shown below.

Box:
囗吅号足巳尸囗田日門艮眉黑罒目貝
Bottom:

凹凸山豳豐屮出乚匕比
Cover:
⺆丹用月冂冊卩阝咼骨冖且皿几風
Right:
乛羽弓已⺕廴乃了子水又癶龴疋⺄飛
Left:
厂戶卬留氏段臼丘長肆馬巨臣匚
Slant:
丿爫豸彳亻隹千禾夭⺮告勹夕⺈魚
Dot:
丶忄斗氵自舟向宀疒广礻辶衤亠言立
Hook:
𠄌
爿彑巛女奴如厶幺乡糸絲龻
Hat:
八 食金小丷⺌米脊火炎黹廾曹革艹
Cross:
十車寸木扌青土士耂走聿韋乜大㐅犭
Vertical:
丨止齒卜虍鬥非虫中由巾皮冘隺儿片
Horizontal:
一歹石丆下不丁工王干兩雨西覃亞耳

The shape for a category is typical of all groups within that category.

For example:

Groups within the Box category include characters that begin with some variation of the Box 囗 shape.
囗吅号足巳尸囗田日門艮眉黑罒目貝.

Groups within the Bottom category only include characters that begin with some variation of the Bottom 凵 shape.
凹凸山豳豐屮出乚匕比

Groups within the Cover category only include characters that begin with some variation of the Cover ⺆ shape.
丹用月冂冊卩阝咼骨冖且皿几風

Groups, in turn, contain characters that begin with some variation of the group shape.

As an example, the characters below all belong to the 田 group of the Box category:

田毗畈畷
胃思累界異
疊壘纍
甲鴨畢

Why Use an Initials Index?

Characters in the Easy Lookup initials index are sorted purely according to the shape of their initial element. As a result, all you need is a picture of the character you are looking for.

You don't need any "hidden" information like its radical (which isn't always the first element in a character) or its pronounciation to look a character up. All you need is to be able to recognize it's initial shape.

And that's the reason for Categories and Groups.

Categories are made up of the most basic and easy to recognize shape elements of all characters. It isn't based on a particular stroke, at least not in all cases, but a shape that is easy, even for foreigners, to recognize.

The groups within a category then include the more detailed shapes that make up the first part of each character.

Using the Initials index is simply a case of choosing shapes that best represent the first element of the character that you are looking for.

So that the search is easier, similiar shapes are grouped close together so that even if you guess the wrong shape, you are close to the right shape.

And the groups of shapes have been chosen so that the size of each group is as small as possible, without making the number of groups that you have to search through too large.

But What if You Want to Look for A Simplified Chinese Character?

If you are looking for a Simplified Chinese character the Easy Lookup Chinese English Dictionary includes a Simplified Chinese character index. This is used in exactly the same way as the Initials index. But instead, Simplified Chinese characters are divided into groups and categories based on their initial element.

Find out more about the Easy Lookup Chinese English Dictionary or

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The Easy Lookup Chinese to English Dictionary ebook, Neil Keleher.