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Hakka : Cantonese : Mandarin : Chaozhou : Chinese
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The introductory notes include notes as to the geographic distributions of the language, a survey of the sounds in IPA and various romanisation equivalents, and some interesting historical linguistic remanants that can still be found in the sounds. Chinese character entries with their associated sounds are given in the first lookup section listed according to the total number of strokes of the character then by order of the KangXi radicals. In the second section, HagFa PinYim is the order in which homophonous characters are listed along with their tones. There are notes that also indicate where the origin of the pronunciations are for those characters which have multiple readings.
The accompanying 1.44MB diskette holds an input. The most recent, free for download can be obtained here.
A dark purple cover, with Hag5 Ngi1 Pin1 Yim1 Si4 Fui4 in Chinese characters and the author's name appears. The spine is red, and the back cover is yellowish-green with a short description of the book, and of the author's background. It is a paperback, published in Hong Kong. My copy was given to me by the author himself. Characters are traditional, with dialectal characters that appear in Hakka.
Under each romanised sound heading, there is finer distinctions of the sound by tone number. Character entries are followed by the romanised sounds, then an example of its use, and a standard Putonghua chinese rendering of that example. This book is for the Meixian dialect of Hakka.
The book is hardback. The cover has the top third yellow, and lower portion brown, separated by a horizontal black line across both sides of the book's covers.
The romanised sound with tone mark (which I think originated under the influence of the Christian missionaries) is followed by two modified ZhuYin Fuhao (to take into account the -p -t -k endings, and the ng- and v- initials) with tone mark sound representations, complete with tone indicators for all three.
The two modified ZYFH entries represents two dialects of Hakka, HaiLiu (Hailu/Hoiliuk), and SiYenKiong. This is where the usefulness of this dictionary lie. It gives the pronunciation and tone in these dialects. Hailu has seven tones, whereas most other only have six. This is accounted for by the upper and lower splitting in the Qu tone, which is not observed in Meixian Hakka.
The book is published in Taiwan. It has a red clothbound hardbacked book, with embossed with gold lettering. The sleeve is reddish pink, with drawings of a straw hat and a weaved basket with a narrow necked opening, and the verticle title in white against a red background besides which the name of the author and publishing house is displayed next to it.
I've found this particularly useful, because I could locate the characters with ease through both its layout and look up methods. It preserves some old vocabulary which may be hard to find nowadays.
First you have to identify the first character penstroke type, then the total number of sttrokes. A table will refer you to an index page number. From there, you locate the character which has an ascension number after it. Locate the number in the body of the dictionary entries, and it will appear in a column of homophonous characters headed by a romanised rhyme or reading of the character. In bracketts, a comment on the tone type and a Chinese numeral follows. The tone of the numeral in Cantonese is the tone at which the character is pronounced. Character entries are followed by their ascension number, and a list of compounds in which this character commonly occurs follows. Explanations are not always given for the meaning of the character or compounds.
The usefulness of this dictionary lies in the compounds that the characters make. It is not ideal for a beginner of Cantonese, but rather for someone with some competancy in reading, and has a fair vocabulary at his grasp already.
A small pale blue paperback cover with the title characters in white text upon individual squares of differing colours.
The lookup method is the standard 214 radicals of the KangXi dictionary tradition. Followed by a two part code. For example, the character which represent the number five, is given a code, 53/9F. This means, the 53rd rhyme line 9 column F.
A slim white covered book with the title in large red characters written vertically, to the right.
Modern pronunciations of Cantonese has changed so often, that this maintains a standard for Cantonese. However, that may become viewed as artificial, as language change progresses.
The pitfall with books of this nature is that there are words that you can think of, but aren't in. Those which you think of, aren't the ones you want. As a simple guide to everyday things it is useful. The lack of a Chinese-English lookup is disappointing.
A pale green book, pocket sized.
It uses the KangXi 214 radical system to set out the characters according to the remanining strokes, and gives a brief explanation of each character, and or, examples of its use. The two tone printing alerts one to common characters (pale brownish head character) to the less commonly used (in black) characters.
Head characters are larger than the comments which follow. Each head character is followed by a pinyin pronunciation and Zhuyin Fuhao representation, with a character example which rhymes. Then it is followed by a Cantonese pronunciation, and a character which rhymes in Cantonese.
There is an index of characters whose radical is not automatically apparent. It is set out by total number of strokes then the initial stroke type. It also provides a number of appendices such as weights and measures, historical Chinese periods, and punctuation.
There are illustrations throughout the dictionary, of object, animals and plants.
For ordinary purposes, this is an excellent reference. It is a pocket sized brown plastic covered back, with white lettering.
Each character, after the pronunciations (Mandarin (in pinyin only) and Cantonese), is followed by a list of vocabulary items which have the head character as the leading character in the compounds. Each compound is followed by a short explanation.
Whilst the previous book provided historical time periods as dynasties, this work provides names and dates of the monarchs of most of the dynasties from the quasi-mythical founders to the last Qing Emperor.
Like the previous book, it also has an index of hard to discern radical characters. There are no illustrations in this book.
Similar in size to the previous book. It has a bluish-aquamarine colour plastic cover with white lettering.
The front matter to this dictionary is interesting, as it gives descriptions on how to pronounce the sounds of PinYin. It is the only place I have come across the -i represented as an inverted zh- (ㄓ) in the Zhuyin Fuhao representation.
The entries are listed under their "SiJiao HaoMa" or "Four-Corner Number" classifications.
Each character entry is followed by its pronunciation in PinYin and Zhuyin Fuhao and a rhyming character. An explanation of the character is followed by a list of compounds and their explanations in which the lead character appears foremost.
The appendices include notes on punctuation, historical eras in China, weights and measures, and two look-up methods, by PinYin romanisation and tone, by total number of strokes and traditional 214 KangXi radical order.
That is the surprise. Being a simplified dictionary, you would expect the alternate radical system which consists of simplified radicals.
It doesn't take too long to get used to the SiJiao HaoMa system, and because it provides these two excellent lookups, alternative ways of finding your character if you happen to slip up on identifying the corners properly. However, I've found that this sort of look up very useful when I have come across a character in which the radical is not readily identifiable.
The book has two look up methods, by KangXi radical, and by PinYin romanisation. All the single character entries are ordered by the KangXi radicals and then by total number of strokes.
Character entries are followed by their Pinyin pronunciation, and the grammatical type of the character (noun, verb,...). After the brief meaning and useage, it provides compound entries where the lead character is the the header character. It then provides a Pinyin pronunciation of the compound and then its meaning.
Ideal for beginners of Chinese (Mandarin) and intermediate learners. Its usefulness lies in its romanising the compounds entries, as tone sandhi (changing of tone quality) occurs frequently in Mandarin. It spans a wide brief of grammar, incorporating classical and modern Chinese, and scientific and idiomatic Chinese too.
Amongst the index, there is a list of Chinese provinces and their principle cities, along with their romanised forms.
The front part of the dictionary is English-Chinese. It contains a few rather dated English words and their translations.
The Chinese-English portion of the the dictionary occupied the second half of the book. It is lead by a total number of strokes then by initial stroke type look up.
The romanisation in this book is Wade. There are about 6500 single character headers. The vocabulary is dated.
I use this book to check my English spelling and as one of the last resorts to find a character. However, having said that, it was my first Chinese dictionary, and I do like it.
This Chinese-English character dictionary has entries in the KangXi radical and total number of strokes ordering. Entries have a bold large header character followed by its PinYin pronunciation, then a list of compounds to follow, in which the head character is the lead character. It contains idiomatic expressions, and some tellingly from the influence of Chinese communism.
There are several look-up methods. By total stroke count, then radicals; four corner method; and by PinYin romanisation. Together with the KangXi ordering, that makes 4 in total.
This is the first book I had with the four corner method of lookup. It does not give useful information about what the four corner lookup is.
There is a useful list of simplified - traditional equivalent characters at the back, and also names of geographical locations.
This compact little dictionary is in simplified text. The radicals system here is also of the simplified character variety. To locate a character, you have to identify the radical first. This is easier said than done, if you are only familiar with the KangXi radicals.
I had some problems with this dictionary, as it does not give any other alternative lookup. Having said that, once you've identified the 'simplified' radical, you determine the total number of remaining strokes (total number of strokes of the simplified character minus the number of strokes of the simplified radical - alternatively count the strokes in the remaning portion which is not the radical). That will give the character, and then a page number.
The dictionary front matter includes the Pinyin romanisation system, and the Chaozhou romanisation used in this book.
Character entries begin with the head character which you are looking up. Often, because you've looked up a simplified character, it is followed by a set of round brackets around one or more full traditional forms. After this, the Mandarin Pinyin representation of the sound and ZhuYin FuHao sound is shown. Then enclosed in square brackets, is the ChaoZhou romanised sound, along with a character which is homophonous in the ChaoZhou dialect. Explanations and examples of their usage follows.
Appendices are, punctuation, weights and measures, Chinese dynastic periods, and dates of in the agrarian lunar calendar.
This, my second Chaozhou dictionary bought over a year after the one above, is far superior to the one above. Although the entries are still in the simplified radicals system, it includes lookup by ChaoZhou romanisation and Mandarin Pinyin transcription. The moral of this tale is, the dictionary is most useful if has many lookup methods, just in case you get stuck with any of the others.
The character entries are similar in style to the previous book above.
In the appendices, the PinYin and Chaozhou romanisations is briefly explained. The interesting thing about this book is that it also gives sound relationships across seven dialects in as a one page summary table at the rear. What will be of interest to linguists is the list of ChaoZhou - Shantou dialect dialects and books listed in the bibliography.
ShuoWen JieZi (說文解字) originally compiled in the Later Han dynasty (25-220) by 許慎 (lived 30-124) in 100 was later expanded during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) by 徐鉉 (lived 917-992).
A green patterning on white paperback. Title in larger characters on the left of the front cover.
Each page consists of two panels. The entries are vertical, with full character as headers, then followed by the seal character and comments about it. This copy provides the pronunciation as a fanqie spelling. (This was a later ammendment during the Song period, as this method of recording the sound was not fixed at the time of its conception.)
The index method lists some 500 plus radicals. Entries are by number of strokes, then it is not obvious whether entries are according to ShuoWen's own radical system. My hint would be to count the total number of strokes, and just scan through the entire list.
My primary use for this book is for the seal style characters. The meanings the book give for the characters are somewhat incomprehensible, as it they were relevant during classical Chinese, and has since changes for many of the characters. The explanations of the origins of the characters must be taken with some caution.
Of all the dictionaries on this list, only this one is ordered according to a rhyme table. Characters are divided first by the tone type (Ping, Shang, Qu, or Ru), then according to a rhyme class. The number of rhymes here differ from GuangYun and the PingShui rhymes, however, there is a close relation between them all. This book contains two sections. Both have their own index of rhymes. They are not easy to use, because of the tone classifaction for characters which have since moved their tone type.
This book gives characters in many many different ways they have appeared as seal characters. The book references Shuowen often, for meanings, and also providing a fanqie spelling. Differing seal forms are followed by a remark or name of where or what it is.
There has been serious reseach gone into this work. Qing scholars completed it in 1716, during the reign of the second Qing Emperor, KangXi, after whom the work honoured. It names the Han Dynasty work, ShuoWen, Liang Dynasty's Yü Pian, Tang Dynasty's GuangYun, Sung Dynasty's JiYun, Yuan Dynasty work YunHui, and the Ming Dynasty work ZhengYun, which by any accounts, a long tradition spanning of 1600 years.
The dictionary front matter includes the old rhyme tables which show 36 initials, though by the time of its compilations, most dialects of Chinese which is similar to the dialects today, had lost some of the sounds. In effect, the 36 initials preserved vestiges of the old sounds that have long since disappeared. This can also be seen in the rhymes too. Because KX uses the old sources as its guide for pronunciation, it has preserved them, inspite of the other works having being lost or only existing in part.
The total number of characters is reputed to be somewhere between 47,000 and 48,000 characters. The famous KX radicals makes its first appearance here. Each character entry is listed under a radical, then according to its remaining stroke count. Where there are seal characters available, they have been provided at the top of the column where those characters in the KaiShu (traditional) form occurs. These have been taken from LiuShu Tong, which is book of seal type characters.
Under each entry, the pronunciation according to the different rhymebooks mentioned above is given. An explantion of the character, and extracts from old Chinese literature is provided. The print of the comments are minute and in columnar form. Each head character spans two of these columns, and the idea is to read the right column down to the bottom before proceeding to the next column on the right. For long swathes of text, a ruler is probably a good idea, otherwise it is possible to literally get lost in a sea of characters.
After the main entries, which comprise the main body of KX, supplementary character lists are also provided. There are no other lookup methods.
A hardbound book, with a ywllow patterened sleeve, with black title characters.
A paper back cover with a dark yellow spine and blue title characters, the dark front cover has a picture of a horse and chariot with two humanoid figurines. The title here is in white full traditional characters on a blue background, with the author/compiler's names in a yellow rectangle two thirds of the way down.