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Chinese Dictionary Radical Schemes


After the simplifaction of characters or hanzi on mainland China during the twentieth century, new character ordering schemes were invented. Before then, the most often used method of ordering was the 214 radicals as found in the famous KangXi (K'ang Hsi) Dictionary completed in 1716. We shall use the Kangxi radicals system to represent the traditional style characters and three other major schemes for the post war simplified character ordering schemes which contain 227, 187 and 155 radicals respectively. The radicals are known as Bushou in Chinese, which means "section headings".

The following four schemes shows a gradual reduction in the number of radicals. The new simplified script of the twentieth century brought about a need to recategorise hanzi characters, and in doing so, traditionally grouped characters under the Kangxi system are now scattered under two or more of the new radicals.

There are some variants which are shown, but those which are similar to the full character are omitted.

The 214 KangXi Radicals

These are most often encountered in dictionaries which have tradtional form hanzi. More recently, traditional character dictionaries also give the simplified variant forms of the traditional form hanzi under the same radical as the latter.
16kb 214 Kangxi Radicals

The 227 Radicals Scheme

This system is used in a number of mainland dictionaries, and when compared to the Kangxi system, it has some failings, mainly the need for the very last bushou, 'others'. Apart from having more radicals, it also places former traditional characters (that appear as Kangxi radicals themselves) under other radicals under this scheme. It also introduces a number of unsimplified characters as bushou where they were once under one of the Kangxi radicals. It is therefore quite clumsy.
16kb 227 Radicals

The 187 Radicals Scheme

This is an improvement on the previous 227 radicals system, however, due to the nature of simplifications, the characters which were once under one Kangxi radical, are now under several of these 187 radicals. The XinHua ZiDian or XinHua Dictionary uses this system.
13kb 187 Radicals

The 155 Radicals Scheme

This system is reported as being used in XianDai HanYu CiDian and having 154 radicals, however, 155 were found as below.
11kb 155 Radicals


© Dylan W.H. Sung 2000

This page was created on Thursday 23rd March 2000,
and was recently updated on Friday 24th March 2000.